Wisdom on Tour, McKinstry Value, Verlander Was Absurd (and Will Be a Free Agent ... ), and Other Cubs Bullets

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Wisdom on Tour, McKinstry Value, Verlander Was Absurd (and Will Be a Free Agent … ), and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

‘Andor’ may very well be the best-crafted ‘Star Wars’ or ‘MCU’ show of the current Disney+ era. I’m not saying it is necessarily “the best” or “my favorite,” but it’s kind of incredible how well-made it is.

  • Hey, Patrick Wisdom is going to tour the world, kinda. He will at least be playing in Korea as part of the MLB World Tour:
  • That’s pretty cool, and I would hope it’s an enjoyable experience for Wisdom, too. This is a guy who was a career minor leaguer for a decade before breaking out last year with the Cubs. To get to do things like this, I would think, make for a pretty special opportunity/memory.
  • Man, I really did not fully appreciate just how good Justin Verlander was this season. I knew he’d been dominating, but he might now be the favorite for the Cy Young, because the numbers were absurd. Like, best since *THE* Pedro Martinez season absurd:
  • Dude just posted one of the best seasons of his career in 2022. Doing it at that age WHILE COMING BACK FROM TOMMY JOHN is the stuff of legend, and I should’ve been saying more about it. (Specifically, there was a time when I was playing around at FanGraphs and noticing that Justin Steele had the second best second half ERA in baseball, albeit in a small sample because of the back injury … but I never really noticed or thought about or commented upon the only guy ahead of Steele on that list, which was Verlander.)
  • Verlander, who’ll pitch all of next season at age 40, showed his usual velocity and stuff this year, and reached 175.0 innings over 28 starts. We’ll see what happens in the postseason, but with an opt-out available, he’s going to hit free agency with some of the highest earnings potential we’ve ever seen from a 40-year-old pitcher. Surely he’s going to be able to get another multi-year deal, probably with another early opt-out right? Two years and $30M per year, with an opt-out in the middle? Is it really so crazy to think he could get it?
  • OK yes, I’ll at least note it: the Cubs previously had serious interest in Verlander, back before he was traded to the Astros in 2017, and we know the interest was reciprocated at the time by Verlander (who had no-trade rights). Would the Cubs pursue Verlander again, knowing that his window of top-tier success could evaporate at any moment? Would Verlander even be open to joining the Cubs at this stage of his career/life, knowing that they might be merely “competitive” next year, rather than an NL Central favorite (much less a realistic World Series threat)? Gut says no. We’ll see.
  • SIS looked at which hitters could possibly benefit most from the shift ban, and down on the list – but still making the list – is Ian Happ, who statistically lost about nine hits this year to the extreme shift. The list of guys at the top is interesting, because it’s not only the hulking lefty sluggers you would’ve assumed (Kyle Schwarber and Rowdy Tellez are both up there, for example). It’s also a lot of line-drive lefty types, which does make sense because of the times when the extra “infield” defender is actually playing short right field. A lot of these guys are going to see their batting averages (and thus OBP and SLG) get bumped 10 points or so right away.
  • The eye test said that Zach McKinstry played solid defense for the Cubs, albeit with the periodic head-slapper of a mistake. We know that the bat came on at the end, but was overall solidly below average (.206/.272/.361/78 wRC+). One part I hadn’t considered in deciding whether he’d offered enough value to stick this offseason is the baserunning. It tends to be a pretty small value in either direction, but it turns out that McKinstry was top tier:
  • That’s part of how McKinstry was able to accumulate 0.9 WAR on the season despite just 185 PAs and very sporadic, limited playing time. He doesn’t have options remaining, which hurts, but he is still pre-arbitration and only 27. I think it’s probably just about a lock at this point that he’s sticking on the 40-man this offseason (especially because the Cubs are looking mighty thin on lefty bats right now).
  • Accompanying chart is hilarious:
  • So now I really, really have to root against an old friend today, don’t I:

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.