Winter Meetings, Sunday Mid-Day: Verlander Next? Bassitt Wants Four? More Cubs and Turner? Pressure on Hoyer?

Social Navigation

Winter Meetings, Sunday Mid-Day: Verlander Next? Bassitt Wants Four? More Cubs and Turner? Pressure on Hoyer?

Chicago Cubs

The time zone difference for these Winter Meetings is going to be partly great – longer day of activity for us Eastern Time Zone people! – and partly awful, since things can happen VERY late at the Meetings. Like, stuff going down at 10pm is completely normal … and that’s 1am for me. I’ll do my best over the next four nights.

For today, it’s still a lot of preamble, as I suspect the earlier start to the meetings (Sunday) means there is more travel happening on the “first day” of the meetings. The Hall of Fame announcement comes tonight at 7pm CT, by the way, so I’m tentatively expecting the hottest part of today to be late afternoon into the night, but I’m doing a lot of guessing because it’s been three years since the last one and a lot has changed!

Some of what I’m seeing this mid-day …

  • The Mets and Justin Verlander seem to be mutually pretty serious in the wake of Jacob deGrom heading to the Rangers, per SNY. That could mean a decision is close for Verlander, be it with the Mets or maybe the Dodgers. A return to the Astros is always possible, but the latest rumors on that front had them unwilling to go to three years. Seems like Verlander, even as he turns 40, is going to be able to get three years.
  • Meanwhile, the same piece indicates the Mets tried to close a deal with Jameson Taillon last week, but his market is so big that they couldn’t get it done. “It’s hard to see” any other team offering Taillon more than the Mets can offer him, according to Andy Martino.
  • The Cubs have been connected to Chris Bassitt, and while this may strike you as nuts for a guy of his age, this is just the reality of the market:
  • I wouldn’t love the draft pick compensation part of signing Bassitt, and I think he’s more of a steady mid-rotation guy than a top two, but I do like him. He’s useful. I’d be interested, even if it took four years (depending on AAV, and depending on other moves). Obviously shorter would be greatly preferable.
  • Ken Rosenthal and Andy McCullough wrote at The Athletic about ten names under the most scrutiny at the Winter Meetings, and among them? Chicago Cubs President Jed Hoyer:

After back-to-back losing seasons, the flag flying over Wrigley Field should not be a “W” but a “U.”

For urgency.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts arguably should be the focus of this section, just as Steinbrenner is the focus of the Yankees’. But Hoyer, the team’s president of baseball operations, will make the personnel decisions to build the team back up, just as he made the decisions to tear it down.

The first litmus test will be whether the Cubs sign one of the Big Four shortstops, seemingly a must for a team lacking not only offensive talent, but also star power. Hoyer dipped his toe into free agency last offseason, adding Seiya Suzuki for $85 million and Marcus Stroman for $71 million. There should be plenty of room for more. The Cubs’ projected 2023 payroll stands at $127.2 million. Four years ago, the team opened the season at $203 million.

The problem for Hoyer is that shortstop is not the Cubs’ only hole. For all the talk about the Next Great Cubs Team, the major-league club is short on long-term building blocks, and the farm system, while plenty deep, is short on potential stars. Hoyer bid for Abreu to fill the team’s void at first base. He wants a center fielder, but rather than Nimmo, he might prefer a one-year stopgap while awaiting the arrival of prospect Pete-Crow Armstrong. Rotation help, bullpen help, Hoyer’s team needs that, too.

Playing in one of the game’s weakest divisions, the Cubs are in position to spend their way into contention. But it likely will require Hoyer going outside his comfort zone. Fly the “U.” It’s time.

  • That’s the external perspective on things, and although the national narrative isn’t always right, I think it’s pretty fair in this case. The Cubs have a robust list of needs if they want to be minimally (but actually) competitive in 2023, as they absolutely SHOULD be. Landing one of the shortstops would be just a start. And NOT landing one of them? Well, that sure as heck would make things all the more difficult.
  • In the section on Dansby Swanson, by the way, The Athletic piece suggests – in a very roundabout, hypothetical way, that Swanson could wind up the only shortstop left for the Cubs and Twins. I don’t know if that’s based on anything more than gaming out where the other three could wind up as other dominoes fall (Judge to Yankees, Correa to Giants, Turner to Phillies, Bogaerts to Red Sox).
  • Interesting note out of Philadelphia, when discussing the team’s pursuit of Turner: “According to reports, Turner is also being pursued by San Diego. St. Louis is also said to have interest. The Chicago Cubs, as well. And the teams that lose out on Judge will have the payroll budget to get in the bidding.” That’s the first I’ve heard about the Cardinals and Turner.
  • If you missed the earlier shortstop notes, see here. If you missed the Cubs’ interest in Matt Carpenter, see here.

Latest from Bleacher Nation:

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.