Contreras Separation (Was Always?) Coming, Rehabbing Relievers and Roster Moves, Frazier's New Job, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Contreras Separation (Was Always?) Coming, Rehabbing Relievers and Roster Moves, Frazier’s New Job, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It’s nice to have lots and lots of rumors back in a normal offseason. I just love it so much.

  • A reminder about the reporting yesterday that decisions about Willson Contreras’s Qualifying Offer receipt and rejection is anticipatory. Strictly speaking, as Jordan Bastian notes, the offer cannot come officially until tomorrow, and cannot be rejected until it is received. It’s just that we apparently knew, two days in advance, that Contreras would be rejecting it. That’s the newsworthy part – the sides seem to already know that no re-signing talks are going to take place, and that’s that.

The Cubs seem intent on going in a different direction with their catching, and adding another veteran, defensive-minded player to pair with Gomes in that spot seems likely. It’s not simply about defense and goes well beyond framing; catchers like Gomes get tremendously positive feedback for their work with pitchers in between games and their ability to prepare and game plan for the opponent, an aspect that appears to be highly coveted in today’s game.

  • The signals have been pretty clear for a while now: the Cubs want a top game-planning, game-calling, pitch-framing catcher to pair with Yan Gomes. They did not see Contreras as being that guy, during starts or between them, apparently. I love Contreras and I love his arm and his bat, but given Carter Hawkins’ background and given how much success we’ve seen from teams that follow this model (AND the emphasis the Cubs now have on developing pitching), I’m ready to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is the way to go. Good luck to Contreras on getting paid. I don’t think talks will resume with the Cubs at any point this offseason.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer reports that Codi Heuer’s rehab is on schedule and going well, but because he is going for a 14-month return timeline (it’s the longer-length because his Tommy John surgery was more involved), he won’t be ready for the start of the season. Heuer had the surgery at the start of March, so you’d be looking at the start of May for when he might be game ready. But I’d bet the Cubs will be conservative enough at that point so that they can place him on the 60-day IL to open the season, let him do a careful rehab assignment in the minors, and then debut when his 60-day stint is up at the end of May. That would get the Cubs an extra 40-man roster spot to work with during those first couple months of the season.
  • The Cubs also have Ethan Roberts (late June) and Brad Wieck (mid July) recovering from Tommy John surgery and not likely returning until the second half of the season. They, too, could and would go on the 60-day IL to open the season and open up those 40-man spots. But here’s the catch on them: you still have to use the 40-man spots in the offseason to keep them. We know the Cubs will do it with Heuer, both because of his earlier return and greater track record, but is there any chance they non-tender Roberts or Wieck to open up 40-man spots next week? If that’s on the table, I reeeeeally hope it would be accompanied by a minor league deal (maybe pay them a little extra?) so the Cubs can keep working with them on their rehab, and then bring them back next season when they’re ready to go. I just love the upside in both relievers and hope the Cubs can keep them in the organization one way or another.
  • The catch if they try to go the non-tender and re-sign route? Each would first have a chance to find another club that *is* willing to have them on the 40-man roster this offseason. Maybe some team out there doesn’t have as much of a crunch, knows they can make it to the end of March, and then they get to 60-day IL the guy – free high-upside reliever for midseason.
  • Jackson Frazier has himself an offseason job in the Dominican Winter League:
  • The situation in Houston remains deeply weird, and I kinda hope ownership screws the pooch:
  • If ownership DOES screw the pooch, maybe it’s late enough in the hiring cycle that Click has to take a one-year deal as a special assistant, and the Cubs can pay him a boatload of money to be that guy. He can then undoubtedly find a GM/President job next year, but in the meantime, the Cubs get to download all his Astros secret sauce …
  • I think I would like cricket if I could get myself to watch it a little bit. The random plays I see as highlights look pretty cool. Interesting thread:

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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.