Roberts and the Bullpen, Turner and CBT Calculations, Bauer and Choices, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Roberts and the Bullpen, Turner and CBT Calculations, Bauer and Choices, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

When the temps dip back toward 25 and I get frustrated at the cold, I have to remind myself, yeah, this is what it’s SUPPOSED to be like in January, man. That last week was just a mirage …

  • Starting somewhere nice this morning. This is pretty awesome, and I instantly wish there was a 1 of 1 rookie card of my own I could buy:
  • Roberts, 25, was a breakout relief prospect for the Cubs the last couple years, and was one of the best stories in Spring Training (who can forget the video of him in the dugout when he learned he’d made the opening day roster). The dude throws a 93/94 mph cutter as his base fastball with elite spin, and a frisbee slider. You want to know what a dream sweeper looks like? It’s this:
  • Roberts struggled in the big leagues with his control in a small sample, was injured, and then ultimately tore his UCL in the rehab process at Iowa. Having had Tommy John surgery in mid-July, Roberts won’t be expected to be back on the mound in game action, even in the minor leagues, until mid-year. Could be a nice boost in the second half, though, if the rehab goes smoothly. You always need extra arms down the stretch, so you never know.
  • The Cubs clearly still believe in Roberts’ significant upside, as they’ve chosen to keep him on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason. He can be placed on the 60-day IL in Spring Training (at which point he no longer counts against the 40-man roster), so the Cubs just need to make this work for a couple more months. Very, very glad they’ve kept him, because his pitch quality could make him a one of one. (See what I did there? I’m a nerd.)
  • Note where Erich Uelmen shows up on that list – knew he had the stuff, but obviously the Cubs were concerned the command would never be there enough to harness it. Uelmen was DFA’d last month and ultimately traded to the Phillies for cash.
  • If you’re a contract nerd, you’ll be interested to see the details on Justin Turner’s deal with the Red Sox, which explains why the initial reports on the terms were so WILDLY variable:
  • Yes, that’s a really weird one. The best way to frame it, in my opinion, is a one-year deal worth $15 million, with $6.7 million of it deferred until after the season. From there, Turner has a one-year player option worth $6.7 million for 2024 (which, if he takes it, means that other $6.7 million converts from a buyout into salary that is paid out over the course of 2024, thus yielding the $13.4 million salary for 2024). So he either gets one year and $15 million, or two years and $21.7 million.
  • Fun fact on a deal like that – unless it has changed in the new CBA – is that it REALLY gets funky for luxury tax purposes. As of this moment, the deal is treated as 2/$21.7M for the CBT (because player options are treated as guaranteed money for CBT purposes until the option is decided), so the AAV that counts against the luxury tax for 2023 is $10.85M. If Turner picks up his player option next year, that stays the same, and then the 2024 number is also $10.85M. But if Turner rejects his player option and takes the buyout, the CBT number RETROACTIVELY becomes $15M ($8.3M + $6.7M). So if you’re the Red Sox, and you get within $4 million of the luxury tax by the end of the season, Turner might wind up putting you over the tax in November *even after the season ended.*

The industry’s perspective, if it can be summarized with one sentence: Unlikely, but not impossible.

ESPN surveyed about two-dozen agents and front-office executives over the past month in an effort to gauge Bauer’s potential free agent market, and the answers didn’t deviate much beyond that. The most common response landed closely with what a rival general manager plainly stated in a text message on the night of Dec. 22, moments after an independent arbitrator ruled that Bauer — having already served 144 games in 2022 — would be docked pay for the first 50 games of the 2023 season but would be reinstated immediately.

“I don’t expect anyone will sign him,” the GM wrote.

  • Even if you felt Bauer, who hasn’t pitched in over a year and a half, was going to be a clear upgrade for your rotation, you would also have to be confident that his addition would not disrupt your clubhouse in a way that negates the value his arm would have brought in the first place. It isn’t just that Bauer served the longest suspension ever under the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy, as ESPN pointed out, it’s that he has been extraordinarily combative through the process. Moreover, there is still litigation ongoing, which means it’s not like a team can bury the story any time soon. And it’s not like Bauer didn’t come with a history of questionable off-field behavior long before the Dodgers signed him. The distraction of it would matter, not just to fans, not just to the business side, but also to a team trying to compete free from needless outside drama. The question of whether it’s worth it, for most teams, is going to be an easy one to answer.
  • So, to anyone asking my opinion on whether the Cubs should try to use this terrible situation as an opportunity to get a pitcher on the cheap, my thought is that it would be a horrible, horrible idea for reasons that both include baseball and also transcend it.
  • Anyway. Back to happier things. This mostly just reminds me that Kerry Wood was unthinkably nasty:
  • HBD, BDJ:
  • I, too, would wear this all the time to impress people:

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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.