Hermosillo Needs a Spot On This Roster, Extension Season, CBA Contract Trade Changes, and Other Cubs Bullets

Pretty hard to find a discussion anywhere right now that isn’t about The Slap. It’s rare that the cultural gods bestow upon us such a moment, so I was just in for the jokes.

•   Michael Hermosillo is without minor league options, so if he doesn’t make the Chicago Cubs’ opening day roster, he will have to clear waivers before he could be sent to Iowa (and he would not clear waivers). I really, really want to see this guy get a meaningful shot:

•   There is still time for this situation to sort itself out organically, but two things seem very likely based on what we’ve seen so far from how the Cubs have approached the spring: (1) the Cubs are likely going to carry five outfielders, and (2) Jason Heyward is likely to see the bulk of early-season starts in center field. Agree or disagree with that approach (I disagree), but that seems to be the reality. Still, here’s the thing: in that world, you absolutely would not want Heyward facing too many lefties, whom he has not hit for years. You also may want to limit Ian Happ against lefties, too, as that is the weaker side of the plate for him. You could cover some of that in left field if Clint Frazier makes the team and in center field if Nico Hoerner can play out there, but wouldn’t it be nice to be sure you have at least one quality defensive outfielder on the roster who can definitely hit lefties? That’d be Michael Hermosillo. So, if the Cubs have to drop an outfielder for the Opening Day roster, and if the team is not ready to let Heyward go, then it would seem it’s more desirable to find a deal for Rafael Ortega*, as much as I don’t like that route either.

•   *(Your caveat there is the idea Bryan mentioned this weekend: maybe you could buy yourself just a little more time to make a decision on the six outfielders by not immediately carrying 15 pitchers. Carry 14 for at least a few days – you won’t need 10 relievers IMMEDIATELY – and see if something shakes out that makes the outfield decision for you.)

•   Even setting aside the obvious roster fit for Hermosillo (primary outfield defender/righty bat against lefties), there remains that chance that he breaks out into a regular. Remember, this is a guy who was long seen as a possible future regular in the Angels’ system who never really got a meaningful big league shot because of the outfielders ahead of him, who then missed the 2020 pandemic season, and who raaaaaked at Iowa last year. He’s just 27. There are reasons to think Hermosillo could be one of those guys whose circumstances were the reason he wasn’t an established regular by 27, not his talent. Are the Cubs really going to dump that guy on the waiver wire or a nothingburger trade just so they can give Heyward another couple more months to turn things around? I’ve gotta believe this means we’ll see an Ortega trade or Frazier get temporarily optioned to Iowa.

•   The Diamondbacks made TWO ENORMOUS moves last night, acquiring Sergio Alcántara from the Cubs, and also extending Ketel Marte on a five-year, $76 million deal. He was under control already for another season two cheap option years, and the extension kicks in after this season, so it’s actually more like an extension of three years a few years in advance (plus getting those options guaranteed). The very versatile 28-year-old switch-hitter posted an explosive season in 2019 (7.0 WAR), but stepped back enough the last two years that it was an understandable idea to go ahead and lock out up that big money now, just in case. Marte had been the subject of trade rumors for a while, but clearly the Diamondbacks never got an offer that made them want to rethink having Marte as a key part of whatever future team they have that sees them turn the corner.

•   Speaking of extensions, the Yankees are going to make an offer to impending free agent Aaron Judge, and then that’s that. “Between now and Opening Day we’ll make an offer, and he’ll obviously receive an offer and all the conversations will have taken place and will either resolve into a multiyear deal or it won’t,” GM Brian Cashman said. “We’re committed. We’ll make an offer and hear what he has to say in response, and then it will be pencils down before Opening Day.”

•   As for the Cubs, they will be getting deep into extension talks with … well … hmm … maybe no one.

•   Albert Pujols is coming back to the Cardinals, which makes for a good remember-when opportunity (no fewer than five future Cubs):

•   More Pujols trivia/history:

•   Noooo, no no no. No, sir. Nope:

•   One of those small but notable points that you want to drop somewhere just so the obsessives have seen it: in the new CBA, when contracts are traded, the AAV for the acquiring team (for luxury tax purposes) is *recalculated* to reflect the actual remaining dollars on the deal. For example, if you acquired a guy who had signed a 10-year, $300 million contract ($30M AAV for his original team) when he had two years and $100 million left on his backloaded deal, the AAV for YOU after the trade is a $50M AAV. In other words, those typically massively-backloaded contracts just became a heckuva lot harder to trade.

•   For contracts that aren’t backloaded, however, there could be weird arbitrage opportunities coming, as noted at FanGraphs. For example, it’s not THAT hard to imagine a scenario where two teams have aging vets on huge AAV deals that were front-loaded, and then could swap those players and actually EACH reduce their totally luxury tax payroll because of the recalculation that takes place at the time of the trade.

•   By the way, on The Slap? It wound up being a great night for baseball jokes:

https://twitter.com/_JoeSeppi/status/1508288574310871041

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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