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The Busy Days Ahead, the Franco Extension and Young Stars, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It is not a good thing that the Bears managed to (barely) beat the (winless) Lions yesterday. React to the game however you want, but there was just nothing in it that actually made anything better for the Bears’ future, which is all that matters this season. So that sucked.

•   With the tender deadline moved up to November 30, one day ahead of the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, I’m pretty much expecting a very busy next few days. Things were always gonna slow on Wednesday evening through this morning because of the holiday, but I would be shocked if today is silent. The weekend won’t be. And next week is gonna be … well, yowsa. So many players have already very clearly signaled that they want to sign before the CBA expires, so it could get nuts, especially with the tender deadline now just a day before the CBA expiration. I’m gonna have to be in borderline Blogathon mode. At least that’s how I’m prepping myself mentally for the days ahead.

•   For the Cubs, specifically, a pitcher signing wouldn’t surprise me (though more rumors of INVOLVEMENT would surprise me even less). More likely, we’ll see the Cubs continue their talks with various parties, and then maybe try to snipe a player who is about to be non-tendered (a guy that they are happy to tender, for example). They may even try to SPRINT to sign a guy who is non-tendered, and who doesn’t want to wait through the lockout to sign – as in, the guy is non-tendered on Tuesday evening, and then the Cubs try to get him signed before midnight on Wednesday. I could see it. Not that I think anyone knows exactly what to expect next week.

•   Gordon Wittenmyer takes a crack at solving MLB’s labor issues with three fixes: (1) eliminating caps on amateur spending, (2) grant some players free agency after five+ seasons instead of six+, and (3) move the luxury tax limits in lock-step with changes in league-wide revenue. I think all three are good ideas on their own, though that last one would be a bit tricky because the league would undoubtedly try to play with what “counts” as league “revenue” (for an example, if the Cubs hosted a post-game concert in the plaza at Gallagher Way, does that count as “Cubs” revenue, or is it just Wrigleyville revenue?).

•   Anthony Rizzo still doing good in Chicago:

•   Black Friday at Amazon means about a bajillion things are on their best sales of the year, so go peruse if you’re looking for just about anything. Obligatory baseball tie-in: want to watch MLB dot TV? You can get a Fire Stick for 20 bucks. Want to listen to MLB games? Get the newest Echo Dot for 30 bucks. Or you could get a new TV. And snacks for while you watch. And an air fryer to make the snacks. And clothes to wear while you watch. And on and on. It’s just a lot of stuff. #ad

•   A ZiPS look at the Wander Franco contract extension, with what you’ll probably see as a really modest peak (barely 5.0 WAR seasons in his mid-20s), but you have to keep in mind that those are 50th percentile projections, and the dude is projected to top 5.0 WAR for SIX straight seasons. That’s actually a REALLY LOFTY set of projections for a 20-year-old, and as Dan Szymborski notes, there is no player in baseball who currently projects to accumulate more WAR in his career from here other than Juan Soto. Still, Franco probably did pretty well to get $182 million guaranteed: in 35% of simulations, ZiPS indicates Franco’s performance would’ve netted him less than $182 million, via arbitration and free agency, over the course of this deal (i.e., 35% of the time, it would be a “whew, thank God I took that deal!” situation). Other super early contract extensions have come in under a 20% chance that the player wouldn’t have made more by going the traditional route.

•   It’s always important to remember, though, for as much as certain guys seem like the unholiest of locks to be stars after early success in their careers, things do frequently go sideways. You can never blame a guy for taking a big guarantee early in his career. Consider this reminder from Szymborski:

The future is a very uncertain thing, as demonstrated by the very weak 2021 seasons from Cody Bellinger and Gleyber Torres. Those young stars would probably be better off right now if they had signed $150 million contracts after their rookie campaigns. Since every Mets fan is born with a genetic catalog of tales of sadness and loss, ask someone in Queens their feelings about Gregg Jefferies, who put up an OPS over 1.000 as a 19-year-old for Double-A Tidewater and a .961 OPS in his first cup of coffee before settling into a respectable, but disappointing, 20-WAR career.

•   If either of Torres or Bellinger had signed a deal in that range after their rookie years, it would’ve looked like a completely understandable move by both sides. But if their performances had played out as they did, the deals would’ve looked like TERRIBLE albatross’s for the teams. Also: Even I remember the Gregg Jefferies hype, and I wasn’t even a Mets fan. And that was pre-internet! And I was seven!

•   All of this has me thinking about when the Cubs might get into a super early (pre-arbitration) career extension – something they have done in the Epstein-Hoyer era just once (David Bote, who looks very smart for taking his deal, which guaranteed him $15 million). If Brennen Davis comes out of the gate next year somehow taking EVEN MORE steps forward, might the Cubs try to lock him down next offseason? If a young pitcher emerges, would the Cubs roll the dice on some cost certainty? Is any of this even worth mulling when we don’t know what the financial system is going to look like in the new CBA?

•   Lastly, Black Friday is underway for our friends at Obvious Shirts, and it’s a particularly ridiculous sale if you’re looking to get a few things or more:



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.