Paxton Signs, Szczur to the Cardinals, Deadened Baseballs, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Paxton Signs, Szczur to the Cardinals, Deadened Baseballs, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

A happy Valentine’s Day to the lovers among you. We tend not to do too much around here, but I should’ve gotten The Wife some chocolates for me to steal.

•   More pitcher reunions – James Paxton has finally signed, inking a one-year deal with his former club:

•   Paxton, 32, and trying to come back from a range of injuries, is not getting the contract he reportedly sought (more than the $11 million Corey Kluber got from the Yankees). Paxton isn’t even getting that much more than, for example, Jake Arrieta ($6 million) is getting in his reunion with the Cubs. Given his injuries and back surgery – but arguably greater upside – you wonder if maybe he didn’t look great in his scouting sessions this offseason?

•   When Jack Flaherty beat them in arbitration yesterday, it was the first time the Cardinals had lost against a player in 27 years, per Derrick Goold.

•   Just as soon as the Cardinals move one beloved former Cubs outfielder out the door, they bring another one in to give us cognitive dissonance:

•   In all seriousness, good for Matt Szczur, and all the best to him. Szczur, 31, hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since 2018, though he hit quite well at AAA for the Diamondbacks in 2019. May he do great things this year, but things that don’t actually help the Cardinals supplant the Cubs.

•   With the deadened ball arriving (returning?) to MLB this year, some calculations on the hitters who could be most impacted – no Cubs:

•   Among pitchers who could benefit, only Trevor Williams shows up on the current Cubs:

•   I would speculate, based on how few current and former Cubs appear on either list, there might be something about Wrigley Field that impacts home run rates so much more than the ball calculations, so changes to the ball would be theoretically less impactful at Wrigley? It’s just weird to see so many names, and no Cubs batters, and just Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood showing up among all those starters and relievers (Jeremy Jeffress, too, but he was only barely with the Cubs in the partial 2020 season).

•   The Reds are bringing some minor leaguers to Spring Training during “big league” Spring Training, but they aren’t non-roster invitees:

•   Best I can figure, since the Reds don’t have a total of 75 at big league camp (40-man roster plus non-roster invitees), they have “room” under the health and safety protocols to bring in some minor leaguers early? And if that’s the case, could the Cubs (who’ll have 10+ spots available, too) do the same?

•   New and old Jake shirts are back at Obvious Shirts:

•   Some fun trivia from Jordan Bastian about the best Illinois-born Cubs players in history, and it’s actually a surprisingly thin list. Phil Cavarretta obviously takes the top spot, but by number five, you’re down to … Warren Hacker? I mean, looking the gentleman up, Hacker was … OK? Like, appears to have been a useful pitcher for a little while, but something far short of “good.” With all appropriate respect, when Randy Wells is on the very short list of “notables,” you know there just haven’t been many elite Illinois-born Cubs.

•   This cracked me up:

•   This is the way:

•   The raises are good in isolation, but they also mostly underscore how atrociously these players were paid, and how still-poorly they are paid:

•   Head over to Twitter if you want a chance to win the signed card Fergie Jenkins is hooking us up with:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.