Care-Free Playoffs, Contreras and Free Agency, Qualifying Offer, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Care-Free Playoffs, Contreras and Free Agency, Qualifying Offer, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

‘House of the Dragon’ is getting slightly better/more interesting, but it’s still miles away from what ‘GOT’ was at its peak. It’s a real bummer.

  • The LDS are all set now, with the Padres last night joining the eight remaining teams. Every team I was nominally rooting for in the Wild Card round went on to win, so I should probably place a bet or something. Of course, sports betting is not coming to Ohio until January, so I’ll just have to be contented by the wins, themselves.
  • Speaking of which, here’s something screwy but true (for me) about the MLB playoffs: when the Cubs aren’t involved – indeed, when they were never even close – I have a much higher baseline of fun. I don’t have to stress about the Cubs winning or losing, and I don’t even have to think about what might have been if *THEY* had only managed to win a couple more games and take the Central. So even thought I don’t actually care about who won those Wild Card series at a level even remotely close to how much I care about, say, a Cubs win or loss in April, I was pretty easily able to feel like I cared a lot. Because there’s no real risk or cost to me. I can just enjoy whatever, and it’s all good. It reminds me of what baseball is supposed to be.
  • Now I say, what the heck: go Padres, go Phillies, go Guardians, and go Mariners. I just realized as I typed it that those are all the same teams I was pulling for this weekend. Seems pretty unlikely that all the Wild Card teams would move on, though.
  • Quirky scheduling note after the Padres win:
  • Speaking of Tatis’s absence, I was reminded last night: I can’t believe the Padres got Ha-Seong Kim for 4/$28M and no other team topped that. Yes, he’s more of a complementary player than a star (though he was worth 3.7 WAR this year), but what a handy player to have on your roster. We were big fans when he was available. But the Padres got him on the cheap, and he wound up being critically important to them as a fill-in shortstop this year.
  • All the petty Mets schadenfreuding has me reminded that, at core, so much of it is about the Cubs not being able to trade Willson Contreras at the deadline to the Mets. That, I have to remind myself, was never about WANTING the Cubs to “get rid” of Contreras, and was instead about a recognition that they aren’t re-signing him in any case, and a quality trade return in hand is better than the uncertainty of possibility getting another draft pick after the second round. Since the trade did not happen, and since it didn’t happen with any other team, we are reminded that Contreras’s value on the open market may be softened by perceptions about the value he does or does not add in any way beyond his bat.
  • And that leaves me again hoping for an outcome that sees Contreras leaving the Cubs: he gets the qualifying offer, rejects it, and signs a deal elsewhere. A really good deal. That hope, again, is not borne out of me wishing to see Contreras gone, but just the reality that it’s almost certainly going to happen no matter what anyway. I’ll miss the player a great deal. Loved watching Willy play.
  • Here’s how Contreras put it at the end of the season: “Since the moment that I got here, I knew that this could have been my home for my whole career,” Contreras said, per The Athletic. “But I got to the moment in my career that is like a dream coming true. I earned my spot in free agency, and I’m looking forward to it.” Contreras sees the reality, too, and that takes me back to the trade deadline: if the Cubs had been able to trade him, then HIS OWN free agent path would’ve been a lot more clear and lucrative. Because that qualifying offer is going to sting. It’s a shame, because he deserves every good thing that is coming to him.
  • As an aside: we seem to wonder it every year, but when we’re in a fresh CBA era, I wonder it even more. Will we see more fringe-case guys get qualifying offers this year, as teams are more comfortable eating a one-year, $19-ish million deal if the guy accepts? There’s just a whole lot more financial certainty this offseason than there has been in YEARS.
  • Baseballs:
  • The Cubs didn’t make the playoffs, and that is obviously a worse overall outcome, but at least the final score that’ll be staring us in the face all offseason is a good one:
  • I’m not even a DUNK GUY, but this is pretty dang impressive:
  • From where I sat, that was indeed a pretty good outcome overall for the Bears, especially given how Justin Fields looked:

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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.