But What About a Happ Extension, Suzuki Defense, Busy Day, Rucker, Replay Timing, and Other Cubs Bullets
I’ve had leftovers – from one thing or another – to eat for lunch for like a week and a half. Today is the first day in a long time when I don’t already have a pre-set thing I know I’ll be eating for lunch. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
- That was a BUSY day for the Cubs roster yesterday. Whew. So you had the roster implications of Seiya Suzuki maybe missing only a week, Javier Assad making the bullpen, Christopher Morel being sent to Iowa, Zach McKinstry being traded to the Tigers, Brandon Hughes likely starting on the IL, Luis Torrens and Miles Mastrobuoni making the team, Rowan Wick being waived and outrighted, and Nico Hoerner being extended. We were just three days from Opening Day, so it kinda had to start getting busy, but I was on my toes all day. Haven’t had one like that since the Winter Meetings.
- Today is not likely to be a repeat, with just a couple final bullpen decisions to make. The final exhibition game (repeat against the White Sox) is today, and it’s likely to be all minor leaguers and depth guys, as many of the regulars head back to Chicago to gear up. I would expect that the 26-man roster, and any necessary 40-man moves would be finalized today, though they may not be announced until tomorrow or even Thursday morning.
- Speaking of what is not likely to be a repeat of yesterday, I don’t think anyone is expecting another extension before Opening Day. The obvious candidate would have been Ian Happ, who is set for free agency after this season. Both sides publicly expressed an affection for each other, but as we’ve discussed, it’s possible that the price tag the Cubs are willing to pay (because of their coming outfield group) is much lower than the price tag that Happ is willing to accept (because he figures to be one of the best bats available in free agency after the season).
- As a bit of a stinger, Maddie Lee wrote this at the Sun-Times: “Happ, a member of the MLBPA executive subcommittee, is in tune with MLB spending trends. But he continues to speak highly of his time in Chicago. There’s a sense he would take what his camp would consider to be a hometown discount to stay with the Cubs.” Obviously there might be a difference of opinion on what counts as a “hometown discount,” but the fact that it’s even being mentioned by Happ’s camp … he wants to stay!
- I get that there are more outfielders on the way, and resources are limited. But this is a high-quality bat, a high-quality left field glove, a high-quality person, and a guy who has already established that he can hack it in the big leagues. If he’s offering a hometown discount, I don’t know why you wouldn’t very seriously pursue getting a deal done. If and when multiple corner outfield prospects are ready to go in a couple years, deal with that then – it’s a “problem” that might never materialize.
- Jed Hoyer on Michael Rucker making the bullpen (over guys like Wick): “He’s got really good stuff. He throws strikes,” Hoyer said, per Marquee. “This guy’s got really good stuff and he continues to get better and better.” We knew the Cubs liked Rucker a lot based on the fact that he survived the 40-man roster all offseason, but yeah, clearly they see more upside there.
Nerd point: because luxury tax is calculated based on players on 40-man roster, I think the Cubs just chopped off $1.55 million from their payroll for luxury tax purposes by outrighting Rowan Wick. They still have to pay him that money, but now they have more space available under the tax for in-season additions. Nope. I’ve been corrected, but I’ll leave this in here so folks can see that this loophole was closed after the Red Sox-Rusney Castillo fiasco.
- Meanwhile, a flurry of Brewers roster moves yesterday, in addition to prospect Brice Turang making the team:
- Three successful minor league innings of defense for Seiya Suzuki:
- Jed Hoyer indicated yesterday that the goal is to have Suzuki taking in-game at bats this weekend before hitting a minor league rehab assignment. That would seem to make a return by next Friday (i.e., the one week absence that backdating his IL stint would aid) a pretty tight return window, but I suppose the thinking is that the Cubs already know he’s healed, so it’s really just a question of how quickly the timing at the plate looks ready. That could happen within just a few games.
- In order to make replay reviews work with the pitch timer, managers will have to hold up their hands immediately if they think they might want to challenge a close play, and they’ll have just 15 seconds from there to say yes or no:
- Oof, another pitching injury for the Guardians organization:
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- The Royals will have a mental skills/mental health coach in the dugout this year, and I’m instantly thinking that’s a very good idea:
- My heart is warmed:
- Wonderfully weird:
- The 2020 MLB Draft has been back in focus of late, primarily because of Jordan Walker making the Cardinals. At Northside Bound, Greg Zumach looks back at the Cubs’ draft that year, what the mocks looked like, what could have been, and what was in that very odd year. Ultimately, mistakes were made – by the Cubs and other organizations – but remembering the Cubs’ draft as a disaster is just not accurate. Not yet, anyway.
- Heads up – our friends at Obvious Shirts have released their new 2023 Cubs season collection:
- And the folks at Northside Baseball (old school Cubs message board, if you remember it) have revised the site to feature more written content, so that’s fun.