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Blowouts Aplenty, Chris Taylor and Ben Zobrist, Graterol, Rule 5 Misses, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I did not pick a great first couple weeks to make a strong effort to become a new Blackhawks fan! Winning isn’t a requisite experience when you’re already a fan of a team, and it’s not like I’m gonna pick some other hockey team to follow. I’m committed. But, yeah, a team being good and winning when you’re in the process of trying to get into the fandom for the first time? Definitely matters. That’s just normal human reaction stuff.

•   When did the LCS teams get together to decide all the games should be blowouts now? Last night’s installment saw the Dodgers beat the Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS by NINE runs:

•   Impending free agent super utility man Chris Taylor hit THREE homers in the game (outfielder A.J. Pollock hit two). Taylor is going to head into free agency as something of a Ben Zobrist lite, not quite the bat Zobrist was in his early 30s and not quite the defender (outside of shortstop, at least). Of course, when Zobrist finally reached free agency for the first time, he was heading into his age-35 season, and he still got a four-year, $56 million deal from the Cubs. Taylor is probably going to see that contract as a very hard baseline for his next deal, which I would guess is also going to be in the four-year range, and probably at better than the $14 million AAV Zobrist got. MLBTR actually got into the comp last month and came to a similar conclusion.

•   Because of his versatility, Taylor is going to be an attractive option for a whole lotta teams, though I think the usual aging curve stuff is going to strongly suggest it’ll be teams with very clear postseason paths in 2022 that are most aggressive. I wouldn’t rule him out for a team like the Cubs if there wound up being value there (I know, you’ve heard it before), but I would expect other teams to be sufficiently more aggressive that the contract that makes the most sense for the Cubs is less than the contract that makes the most sense for another club.

•   Note: Taylor is almost certainly going to be attached to draft pick compensation (he’ll reject a qualifying offer, right?), so that’ll probably have an impact on his market/price tag.

•   The NLCS is now 3-2 Braves, and heads back to Atlanta tomorrow at 4pm CT.

•   Man, Brusdar Graterol remains so much fun to watch. The 23-year-old Dodgers reliever throws the easiest-looking 101 mph you’ll ever see, and it comes with so much movement. He was PUMPED UP for his two scoreless innings of work. It was an uneven year for the young righty with the Dodgers, but it’s pretty easy to see a stud in there, and I think about how the Red Sox decided they didn’t want him as part of a three-team Mookie Betts deal because they didn’t think he could start. So the Dodgers got him as part of a semi-related separate deal involving Kenta Maeda. (Side note: Graterol was developed in the Twins organization, where Derek Falvey is in charge after he came over in 2016 from the Cleveland Indians, and TOTALLY brought some secret sauce with him. So, ipso facto, the Cubs now having Carter Hawkins as their GM means that they will develop even more guys like Graterol.)

•   OH, and sometimes he hits 103 with even MORE movement:

•   A fun read on last year’s Rule 5 Draft and the players who COULD have been selected but weren’t:

•   As the picture suggests, Frank Schwindel would’ve been a heckuva a Rule 5 pick if a team had taken him, started him, and stuck with him long enough to get to the juicy two months where he hit like an MVP candidate. Of course, one wonders what would’ve happened in a situation different than what he had with the Cubs, or where he was starting every day for six months instead of two. Perhaps we’ll find out next year, eh?

•   On the “Rule 5 misses” generally, though, it’s kind of hard to play this game (as BA points out). For example, with Schwindel, he had signed a minor league deal with the A’s before the Rule 5 Draft, and thus any team that wanted him would’ve wanted him at THAT level, rather than required to be on the 40-man roster AND the 26-man roster, as the Rule 5 would require. It just wouldn’t have made any actual sense for a team to draft Schwindel in December of last year. Further, it’s possible that without his time at Triple-A for the A’s, he wouldn’t have been in a position to break out with the Cubs anyway (they snagged him off waivers for a reason). It’s similar to outfielder Jake Meyers, who was Rule 5 eligible last year before becoming a key piece for the Astros in the second half – without his first half at Triple-A, which polished up his development and showed the huge steps he’d taken forward during the pandemic year, not only would you have no reason to have picked him for your 26-man roster, it’s possible he would’ve stunk in April/May/June if you did!

•   Anyway, it’s a fun read. The Rule 5 Draft is scheduled for December 9, though it remains somewhat unclear what happens to the Draft if there is no CBA reached by the time it expires on December 1 (it’s possible everyone will keep working while the sides finish up negotiations – a mini-extension-type-thing – or it’s possible there’s just an exception for the Draft, or it’s possible the Draft is delayed until a CBA is done). The deadline to protect eligible prospects by placing them on your 40-man roster is in one month. More on that in the weeks ahead.

•   The Epic Daily Deals at Amazon today are all about Samsung – just tons of stuff on a deal. #ad

•   This remains one of the more deeply bizarre moments in baseball playoff history:

•   Clemens kept claiming that he thought the big, broken bat head was the ball. So he grabbed it and threw it. At Piazza. All totally makes sense and isn’t at all batshit.



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.