Smyly's Best Outing and Future, Leiter, Morel, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Smyly’s Best Outing and Future, Leiter, Morel, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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  • Drew Smyly pitched as well yesterday as he has with the Cubs, and it was a reminder of the kind of swing value he can have to any team (including contenders that inexplicably didn’t make the Cubs a decent offer for him at the deadline). Smyly said he thought it was 50/50 that he could traded, but is happy he wasn’t (NBCSC): “I’m glad it’s over. I’m very happy just to be here and stay here to help the younger guys and be around to watch our guys grow and gain experience at the major-league level. We have a young team, but like I’ve said all along, it’s such a fun group of guys to show up and play with every day.”
  • I could see the Cubs and Smyly deciding to re-up for 2023, given that he’s just 33, and has shown the ability to swing in and out of the rotation as necessary over the last two years. He’s just a good depth arm to have around, and would fit on virtually any team. You always, always, always need more pitching than you think.
  • Note, though: just because the two sides have a “mutual option” for 2023 (amount hasn’t been publicly reported), you can pretty much ignore that thing. You have to remember about mutual options: for them to be exercised, they have to PERFECTLY nail the player’s sense of his own value AND the team’s sense of the player’s value … and they have to do that six+ months in advance. To the extent it’s right, it is pretty much just a coincidence, since the sides can decline the option and still re-up any time they want (or could re-sign on a new deal before the option date anyway).
  • There USED to be a time when mutual options were useful, because they would be structured to have a buyout that was dependent on which side declined the option. But in the last several years, buyouts have increasingly become fully guaranteed no matter which side declines the option, which means they have become nothing but salary deferral mechanisms. I can think of one – literally just one (Matt Belisle with the Rockies nine years ago) – mutual option that was actually exercised in the last, say, 15 years. You are best off completely ignoring them, especially since, even in the extremely rare case that one is exercised, it is functionally just like a re-signing anyway. There is nothing special about the option being in place – it’s just a team and a player that want to pair back up for the following season.
  • Mark Leiter Jr. was good again out of the bullpen yesterday, as he has been pretty much every time he’s come out of the bullpen in short bursts. The caveat is that those appearances have been, by their nature, almost all low-leverage. But Bryan nevertheless raises an interesting point:
  • The problem with keeping Leiter on the 40-man roster all offseason? He’s out of minor league options next year. So even if the Cubs would want to keep Leiter for the bullpen next year, part of his value THIS year has been the ability to move him up and down from Iowa as necessary, while he swings in and out of the bullpen. Without the ability to do that, Leiter would have to be excellent out of the bullpen down the stretch to hold onto a 40-man spot this offseason over whatever prospect the Cubs might otherwise want to protect from the Rule 5 Draft.
  • If you missed it, Christopher Morel left yesterday’s game early with what was dubbed hamstring tightness. Hopefully it’s minor, but you wonder if it’s something that has been bugging him lately – enough that it explains some of his struggles at the plate (though he’s also been unlucky as hell). The slump has his overall line down to .259/.331/.450/117 wRC+, with a 29.1% K rate. Heckuva good performance overall, but we may be seeing the accumulated toll of a longer, more intense season for him.
  • The Field of Dreams Game is coming later this week, and while the match-up no doubt wound up not quite being what MLB hoped in terms of competitiveness, it’s still going to be cool to see the Cubs donning the old-timey uniforms and playing in the corn.
  • The Brewers traded closer Josh Hader even as they led the NL Central, and then were immediately swept by the Pirates in three games that were all decided late. Team President David Stearns had to deal with some disappointed fans and teammates:
  • For the Twitterers among you, this is pretty darn cool if it works on your device:

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.