Cubs as a Destination Org for Pitchers, Arbitration Exchange Day, Marquez, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs as a Destination Org for Pitchers, Arbitration Exchange Day, Marquez, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Today marks your final check in on my colonoscopy: all went well, and all was clear. So five more years until the next one. I treated myself with a stack of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. It was sufficiently glorious that I kinda want to do it again today. Well, the food part. Not the other part.

•   We often talk about how the Cubs have focused so much over the last decade on bringing in reclamation pitchers – guys who have had past success, who have fallen down for one reason or another, but who do some thing(s) exceptionally well that the Cubs want to work with to turn into results. It used to be something of a joke, but then the Cubs started hitting on these guys every single year (not every guy, of course, but a few each year out of eight to ten swings is actually an excellent hit rate). Sometimes it was just getting some useful innings from a guy like Tsuyoshi Wada. Sometimes it was developing a true ace like Jake Arrieta. Sometimes it was helping a guy stay and contribute like Mike Montgomery. Sometimes it was finding an extremely hidden gem like Brian Duensing. Sometimes it was completely revamping a guy into a stud like Ryan Tepera. I could go on, because the range of outcomes is wide, the types of guys targeted is just as wide, and the contributions, too.

•   Against that backdrop, I thought it was worth sharing this from Cubs signing Drew Smyly, who himself clearly falls into that kind of reclamation category. It turns out, he knows that’s where he is, and he also knows the Cubs are a good organization to target ( “I’ve been on a lot of teams lately. And the Cubs definitely are on the forefront of the technology and getting the most out of their players. So it’s always been an intriguing spot to come back …. I think this is one of the best organizations to kind of re-establish yourself. And then, figure out what works for you, what might not work and take that information, that constructive criticism, and just roll with it.”

•   That’s a good place for the Cubs to be, right? To be known as a place (like the Rays and Dodgers) where pitchers can go to get their careers back on track? It will give the Cubs more options in this tier, and an even better opportunity to get their preferred picks. It isn’t the sexiest tier of the free agent (and trade and waiver) market, but it matters.

•   The deadline to exchange arbitration numbers is this afternoon (for the Cubs, that means Ian Happ and Willson Contreras), which – in a normal year – is the date that you see a ton of settlements. I have no clue if that’s going to be the case or not today. You would also potentially see SOME extensions around this time, but again, no idea if this year’s bizarre and compressed schedule will afford it.

•   We did see one extension yesterday, 27-year-old infield Ryan McMahon signing a six-year, $70 million deal with the Rockies. He had two more years of arbitration left, but instead will lock up his life-changing money. Not a bad decision for a guy who has yet to post an above-average offensive season (by wRC+). The glove rated out very well at third and second, though, so this could wind up a good deal for both sides. Cleary the Rockies want to make McMahon and Kris Bryant their new cornerstones for the next half-decade.

•   Brailyn Marquez was slowed in his arrival to camp this year by another case of COVID-19, though last year’s was much worse:

•   Marquez says he dealt with the myocarditis all the way until November, and it may have been a direct factor in the shoulder issue that had him shut down. After that, the Cubs’ plan for him was akin to a pitcher coming off surgery, and they laid it all out for him in advance of the lockout. Of course, even if Marquez followed it to a tee, there was no permitted communication with the team, so any tweaks or adjustments or this or that couldn’t be adjusted on the fly. And then COVID hit him again. Just a terrible set of circumstances, and although I like that HE feels optimistic enough to be ready to go when the minor league season begins in just a couple weeks, I don’t think anyone else should be expecting anything close to that. To keep my expectations in check, I’ll say if he’s pitching at Double-A Tennessee by May, I would take that as a win.

•   It sounds like the pounds Keegan Thompson lost this offseason were found by Justin Steele – while one rotation competitor slimmed down, the other bulked up. Steele added 23(!) pounds this offseason thanks to meals created by his girlfriend (Tribune). Steele certainly had some room to add some bulk, so hopefully it’s the kind of good weight that’ll create a little more stamina throughout starts and throughout the season.

•   With minor league options remaining, if things stay super crowded to start the season, it’s possible (unlikely?) that both Thompson and Steele could be optioned to the minors initially.

•   First Carlos Correa and now Kevin Goldstein. The Twins are just EATING this offseason:

•   Son of a … When the Cardinals get a player with a name like this, it’s an All-Star lock situation:

•   Nick Castellanos says MLB owners either care about winning or they don’t:

•   This is good:

•   Oneil Cruz is periodically going to be a problem, and apparently you should really not pitch him down:

•   Ear buds, charging gear, spring cleaning supplies, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

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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.