Anthony Rizzo's Future, Mets May Have Been Too Cute, What the Cubs Had in Yu Darvish, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Anthony Rizzo’s Future, Mets May Have Been Too Cute, What the Cubs Had in Yu Darvish, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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  • Ian Happ just saying what everyone else is thinking, even a year and change later:
  • Happ has a really good perspective on this stuff, not only because he was literally there, but because he’s just good at balancing the team, city, and individual player interests in these situations. Pointing out how it would’ve been a challenge to keep everyone, how not working it out with Rizzo was shocking, but that at least Rizzo wound up in a pretty great situation.
  • Speaking of which, it’ll be an interesting opt-out decision for Rizzo. He’s set to make $16 million in 2023 for his age 33 season, and just hit .224/.338/.480/132 wRC+ for the Yankees, where he’s clearly a great fit for that stadium. One year and $16 million sure feels light, though if he opts out, the Yankees can then make him a qualifying offer (one year and $19-ish million), at which point he becomes attached to draft pick compensation if he declines. Not ideal for him. Opting out seems highly likely at this point (well, maybe trying to negotiate an addition year or two before that), and then the qualifying offer seems equally likely. It’s possible Rizzo’s agent would urge him to accept, given how rough the market could be for him – fair or unfair – with draft pick compensation attached.
  • Oh, and for what it’s worth, no, I don’t see an obvious reunion opportunity there with the Cubs. I think the Cubs do need left-handed power, and they obviously have a huge opening there at first base. But I also think the Cubs are going to want to allocate their resources in spots other than first base, and I also wonder if it’s just too recent for each side to really try to come back together on a new deal. Also, I would think a short-term deal at first base makes the most sense for the Cubs, who probably want to at least leave open the POSSIBILITY that Matt Mervis grabs the job and runs with it. If Rizzo is opting out and declining a qualifying offer, he will not be looking for a one-year deal. Gut says he’s going to wind up sticking with the Yankees, either on the qualifying offer, or on a new two or three-year deal.
  • Before I share this chunk, I do want to say: I was on board with the Mets’ Jacob deGrom plan. Because of the way the schedule lays out, it only made sense to wait to decide when to start deGrom in the Wild Card series depending on what happened in Game One. The schedule is such that you have an opportunity to have your best pitcher go twice in the Divisional Series if he doesn’t start in the Wild Card series. So you at least leave open that possibility by not committing to deGrom for Game One or Game Two of the Wild Card series, and start him only in the event that you lost Game One (or win Game One, but then lose Game Two), when your season is on the line. It sounded good in theory.

In a meeting room just off the home clubhouse at Citi Field, a whiteboard calendar revealed the plans of the New York Mets on Friday afternoon. Filled into the spaces for Friday, Saturday and Sunday were dates with the Padres. In the days beyond, the club had already posted the schedule for a prospective five-game series next with the Dodgers.

You can call this necessary preparation. You can also, in the wake of a 7-1 defeat to San Diego in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series, see a metaphor for the pitfalls of prognosticating beyond the present. In openly contemplating sneaking through this series without using ace Jacob deGrom, the Mets made plain they were looking past the Padres. At best, the strategy set forth by general manager Billy Eppler and manager Buck Showalter placed one eye on San Diego and another gazing toward Los Angeles.

  • There is SOME LEVEL of an assumption, when making the deGrom plan in the first place, that you are highly likely to win the Wild Card series against the Padres. You do have to make your best preparations, and any smart organization would do the same. But I suppose you would have to be careful not to lose the thread, lest humans do human things and start looking ahead. And now the Mets do have to lean on deGrom to save their season anyway.
  • This weekend is roughly the anniversary of two of the best home runs in Cubs playoff history, one in 2015 and one in 2016:

  • From my playoff recap, but also of interest here in the Cubs Bullets: “Yu Darvish threw seven innings of one-run ball, because he’s awesome. I’ll admit, it’s hard in those moments, when you’re watching him last night, to not think about the trade from the Cubs and wonder if they REALLY had to do that, or if it was REALLY the right move. Darvish wouldn’t have made the difference for the Cubs in 2021 and 2022, so there wasn’t anything lost there, but obviously now we’re talking about wanting the Cubs to go out and add a front-end starter. Ah well. At least Darvish is a free agent again after next season …. “
  • Darvish will pitch next season at age 36, and he was as good as ever this past season. I think that trade clearly wound up a fine one for the Padres, and for the Cubs, a lot hinges on whether Owen Caissie lives up to his tremendous offensive potential, and if Reggie Preciado can develop into at least a useful big leaguer or trade piece (the numbers were terrible this year and the knee injury really screwed up the progress he was making by midseason, but he was 18/19 in a really challenging assignment). I don’t have many hopes remaining for Yeison Santana or Ismael Mena, but that was exactly how we expected it at the time of the trade: we hoped for one future very good regular, one future useful player, and it was likely that two would bust. The Cubs knew what they were realistically hoping for when they went for a very young, high-risk, high-upside group of prospects in the deal, and this is it. Well, and also some salary savings. Sigh.
  • I don’t actually have any bad feelings about the Darvish deal right now, even as I do wish the Cubs had Darvish already in the mix for 2023. Can’t have it both ways, though. There were some payroll dictates at the time, and a market that pretty much consisted of the Padres and no one else. Jed Hoyer did what he could, and we’ll see in the years ahead whether it was good enough. In the meantime, I hope Darvish keeps rocking this postseason and is great next year, too.
  • Speaking of Darvish’s outing, it was one of FOUR 7+ inning starts on the day. This is nuts:
  • This was a gut punch yesterday, but all the positive vibes to Sarah Langs (a fantastic follow on Twitter), and a very kind move by the Mets last night (and here’s the link to ProjectALS.org):
  • Weird late-night trade on a Friday for the Blackhawks, but seems like they got a great return:


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.