Another very early set of Bullets. Day Two of vacation today, so Michael and/or Patrick will have you covered if and when things break. (I have to at LEAST still do Bullets and maybe a night-time post or two … I can’t help it … )
- Speaking of which, Michael covered the Kodai Senga signing late last night – thanks, man – which means I didn’t get to feel the full weight of frustration that not only did the Cubs miss on Senga, but he also wound up signing an eminently reasonable contract with the freaking Mets (whose total payroll, including the expected luxury tax hit, is now over FOUR HUNDRED MILLION). Senga got just five years and $75 million (opt out after the third year), which feels like pennies in this market. It does suggest that the Cubs were sincere when it was reported that they saw Jameson Taillon (four years and $68 million) as the best non-Qualifying-Offer pitcher on the market.
- That said, sure would’ve been nice to land Senga. I know the risks, and they are not insignificant. But with Senga, you get mid-rotation or better upside, there is no draft pick compensation attached, and you get another Japanese star to market. I’m *less* frustrated about this than I am about the current free agent bat situation, but I’m still very, very disappointed that the Cubs didn’t get Senga.
- Why am I less frustrated? Well, because unlike the situation with the offense, I can at least see a reasonable circumstance where, even without Senga, the Cubs wind up with good rotation performance throughout the year. I like the arms the Cubs already have, I love the quality depth, I can see a prospect or two breaking through, and I also buy the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure’s ability to get more out of pitchers they pick up at the margins. Also, I am very eager to see how their emphasis on soft factors from the catcher spot will impact pitching performance.
- Among the top starting pitchers left on the free agent market, by the way: Carlos Rodon, Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi, Ross Stripling, Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard, and – dare I say – Drew Smyly? And then tons and tons of reclamation/depth guys (of whom Sean Manaea might be my favorite (UPDATE: What are the odds? Wrote this last night because vacation, and the dude signed with the Giants on a two-year, $25 million deal OVERNIGHT).)
- Maybe one more for that last category: old friend Cole Hamels is not hanging ’em up yet. The almost-39-year-old lefty is a few surgeries removed from his last full season, which was a solid year in 2019 with the Cubs. Hamels, now healthy, is just looking for an opportunity to come to Spring Training and see if he’s got anything left (ESPN): “A spring training invite is no risk, all reward,” he said. “If you start me out in February, I’ll be ready by April 1. Or I’ll know exactly I can’t do it, and I will be the first one to admit, nope, I had a great career. I can hang it up and be proud of what I did.”
- Hamels is right that there’s not really much to lose by bringing him to Spring Training. Maybe he’s gassed, maybe he’s not. But he’s a quality veteran presence in any case, so hey, if he wants to come to Mesa with the Cubs, why not?
- The Cubs and Red Sox have both expressed interest in getting the 2025 All-Star Game, though Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t tipping his hand (The Athletic). Next year is in Seattle, 2024 is in Arlington, and 2026 is in Philadelphia. So it’s either 2025 for Wrigley Field, or we’re looking at 2027 or later. The Cubs last hosted in 1990, which is 35 years before 2025 (even though there are, at last check, just 30 MLB teams, and several of them did not exist back in 1990).
- The previously-rumored Frank Schwindel move to Japan is indeed happening:
- I love seeing Matt Mervis here – that might make him the best hitter on the team – but I still don’t want the Cubs COUNTING ON THIS when managing the construction of their roster:
Early Spring Training Arrivals and Visuals: Hoerner, Suzuki, Steele, Horton, Amaya, Davis, Mervis, More
Hitters Are Happy About Shift Limits (But), the First Base Mix of Playing Time, Early 20th Century Cubs Uniforms Are Great, and Other Cubs Bullets
Jed Hoyer Speaks: Learning Lessons from Failure, The “Front Edge” of a Successful Run, Rizzo, Suzuki, Bellinger, Hosmer, More
How Much Has the Three-Batter-Minimum Rule Impacted Lefty Relievers? And How Is it Impacting Free Agency?
Heyward Still Part of Chicago, Senga’s Physical, Steele’s Approach, Farm System, and Other Cubs Bullets
“Closed for Business”… or Maybe Trading One of Their All-Stars; No One Knows What the Bulls Are Up To