Wesneski and the 5th Spot, Stroman and His Opt-Out, Concessions Impacts, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Wesneski and the 5th Spot, Stroman and His Opt-Out, Concessions Impacts, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

‘The Last of Us,’ man. Are you watching this show? You should be watching this show. This weekend’s episode was as edge-of-my-seat as I’ve been watching a TV show since … I’m not even sure I can think of a great answer there, actually.

  • Hayden Wesneski will be evaluated all spring by the Cubs for that 5th starter job, and he looked like a perfectly solid option again yesterday. I think the edge is going to go to Adrian Sampson, all else equal, because of his success in the role last year, but I don’t think this is just eyewash. I think the Cubs really would consider Javier Assad or Wesneski for the job to open the season.
  • As Carter Hawkins said before the game, the Cubs are still thinking about long-term development with Wesneski. But if they believe they can do that at the big league level while also getting great performances from him right away, then he’s probably going to be the guy. If, instead, they feel like there are still things they want to work on that’ll be a little smoother at Iowa, then that’s where he’ll go to start the season. Either way, the emphasis is on getting Wesneski to the best possible place to help the Cubs win the most games long-term. My guess is he’s going to make it a very tough call, and my other guess is that it probably won’t wind up mattering that much, because Wesneski is going to throw like 100-120 big league innings this year, whenever they happen to come.
  • “What stands out to me is he does know a lot about how he wants to go about his business whether it’s in the weight room, his bullpens or competing,” David Ross said of Wesneski, per Marquee. “It’s just very much a veteran-type presence to how he goes about his business and what he wants to do. He works well with the coaches, he speaks the detailed language of some of the analytics and the spin and the shapes he wants to see out of his pitches. When you have somebody that aware of what they’re doing, it’s very easy for our coaching staff to work with him and be on the same page. He’s been a real joy to get to know because it is all about how he’s setting up for success, which is gonna help us have success.”
  • I’m just constantly talking about the pitching this spring, aren’t I? It’s weird. Sometimes I remember how rare it was to see a SINGLE homegrown Cubs pitching prospect come up and contribute ANY innings just a few years ago. Now it’s just a constant stream of guys. Way more than can make the team, even though they are big-league-caliber. And more are coming.
  • And then there are the pitchers who aren’t entirely homegrown, but whom the Cubs have nevertheless helped develop (guys like Hayden Wesneski, Adrian Sampson, Ben Brown, Caleb Kilian, etc.). We need to see the results on the field in the years to come, but it’s looking increasingly plausible that, come 2026, the rest of the league will look back at the last few years and realize the Cubs somehow became one of those “how do they keep doing this” pitcher development organizations.
  • Marcus Stroman, who can opt out of his Cubs deal after this season (or take a $21 million salary for 2024), has changed agents – he’s now represented by Brodie Van Wagenen at Roc Nation Sports (The Athletic), which is funny because Van Wagenen is the guy who was in charge of the Mets when they traded for Stroman back in 2019.
  • You can safely assume that, if Stroman has a typical season, he will be opting out of his deal and hitting free agency. You can also safely assume that the Cubs are probably hoping, in the even that happens, they will have seen sufficient development from their many near-ready starting options that they could replace Stroman internally, if necessary. The upcoming free agent class is actually potentially really strong in starting pitchers, so I suspect the Cubs will want the flexibility to go after a top arm if they want, but the comfort to know they’ll be OK if they don’t land one (or don’t retain Stroman).
  • Nico Hoerner on being a leader, and how it looks different for different players (The Athletic): “Leadership comes in a lot of different ways,” Hoerner said. “It’s a constantly changing thing and I’m figuring out what that means for me. I appreciate when coaches have asked for more from me. Honestly, it’s nice to have that feedback. What I bring on a daily basis is not going to be as vocal as some people. But I do take a lot of pride in knowing my teammates and playing hard. It’s really not that complicated. It’s not coming from a place of, ‘Man, I got to really be a leader today.’ It’s just take care of your business, treat people well along the way and go from there.”
  • Trey Mancini, long of the Orioles, got a little taste of a different culture with the Astros:
  • The rule is the rule, and it’s all fine – you have to have a time cutoff somewhere for the batter – but I don’t love that the umpire has to be policing eyeballs:
  • Then again, so far, this kind of already-in-the-box violation has been extremely rare, so maybe it’s just “whatever.”
  • Good on JJ Cooper for asking this question, because I wondered the same thing:
  • There’s not perfect overlap there between the minors and the big leagues, but it’s a good data point, especially when the responses were so strong and so uniform: no, there was no impact. In hindsight, maybe it makes sense, because the vast majority of concessions sales are going to take place within the first four innings of any game. Not every ballpark sells as much beer as Wrigley Field. (Now let me hamfist in a point about the Cubs needing to drop the price of beer.)
  • Billy Williams taking in Cubs camp:
  • OK, but why though:
  • Don’t get me wrong. I understand that it is good and valuable to have a rocket arm at shortstop, and Masyn Winn has a ridiculous one (he, like Oneil Cruz, sometimes approaches 100 mph). But I don’t quite get what actually happened on that play to necessitate a throw like that, and I also don’t know that it’s going to be good for him long-term to randomly uncork monster throws like that. Bigger picture, though, Winn is an outstanding prospect, is only about to turn 21, and figures to be the Cardinals’ shortstop of the future.
  • Speaking of that 2020 Cardinals draft that featured Winn, AND Jordan Walker, AND this guy:
  • I fear that we will be hearing about that Cardinals 2020 draft for a long time. (Please bounce back in a major way, Ed Howard, and please be awesome Matt Mervis. And also be very good Luke Little and Ben Leeper and Jordan Nwogu. I would like to think about how the Cubs did solidly overall in 2020 also, even if not as well as the Cardinals.)
  • Oof for Jose Quintana and the Mets, as I would think the recovery and rehab for this could be similar to a bad side injury:

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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.