A Wonderful Night, the Return of Baseball, Brewers as Sellers, Trade Deadline Date, Worst Contracts, and Other Cubs Bullets

It’s pretty hard to put into words how nice and kind and fun last night was at our live event. Thanks to Reid and Michael and the Betsperts crew for putting on a great event (Thomas Ian Nicholas was awesome!). Thanks to Dave Kaplan for coming to join our Cubs panel. Thanks to Bryan for his always thoughtful comments. Thanks to everyone who attended, and the folks who said some pretty darn nice things to me. I got emotional more than once. Hopefully we’ll have more of these soon – it’s great to get together in person sometimes, you know?

Hey, and we finally get Cubs baseball again today – see you out in the right field bleachers if you’re at the game! …

  • Although – don’t shoot the messenger! – today’s game is the kick-off of Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+ (even though it’s a 1:20 pm CT game … ), and it’s exclusive to Apple TV+. So, to watch today’s game, you’ve gotta have Apple TV+. You can sign up here for a subscription or a free trial if you want to check out the game (and ‘Severance,’ which was awesome).
  • Thanks to the extra off-day after opening day, the off-day yesterday, and the rainout before that, Marcus Stroman is making his second start of the year today, more than a week after his first. Hopefully there’s no rust there for him, or for any of the other starters who are going to have had particularly long layoffs.
  • Brewers lefty Aaron Ashby is having shoulder surgery, and it is possible he will miss the rest of the season. It’s a significant blow to the team’s pitching depth, though they do still have serious impact at the top of the rotation for at least this and next year (after which Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are due to be free agents).
  • Speaking of which, Ken Rosenthal writes about the tough decision that the Brewers might have to confront in July, whether they’re in contention or not:
  • Any deadline speculation, however, is not entirely misplaced. The Brewers indeed might face difficult decisions, even if they are in contention. A number of their best players — starting pitchers Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Eric Lauer, plus shortstop Willy Adames and first baseman Rowdy Tellez — are eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.

    The Brewers traded closer Josh Hader with the same one-plus years of club control remaining at last year’s deadline, a move that former president of baseball operations David Stearns acknowledged was more harmful to the team than he expected. General manager Matt Arnold, who took over as the team’s top decision-maker when Stearns stepped down last October, surely will be reluctant to make the same type of deflating deal.

    The problem is, the Brewers’ young pitchers are not nearly as impressive as their young position players …. Against that backdrop, Arnold might be tempted to trade Burnes or Woodruff for multiple young arms at the deadline. The return would be far better than if the GM waited until the offseason, when his starters would be available for only one pennant race instead of two, and at high arbitration salaries.

  • Here’s hoping the Brewers are in a spot to at least have to make a very difficult decision come July. Like, I’m not exactly ROOTING for them to get a monster haul for one of their pitchers, but I also don’t want to see the Brewers manage to dominate so thoroughly through the first half that cruising into the postseason is an obvious path for them.
  • All that said, if the Brewers are falling back by July (doesn’t seem likely to me), they will become VERY OBVIOUS and probably VERY AGGRESSIVE sellers, because they have some supremely valuable pieces to market. For a farm system that was already on the rapid rise thanks to their young outfielders, it could be an infusion unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years (including from the Cubs). Depending on how aggressive they want to get.
  • Speaking of the deadline, it has officially been set for August 1 this year:
  • Please don’t let me be covering sellers again this year, Cubs. I don’t want it.
  • Jeff Agrest writes about Marquee’s frequent use of the three-man booth, including Joe Girardi, and how it’s actually working out really well (agreed). Girardi is really good in the role, and he doesn’t seem to be clashing at all with Jim Deshaies, which you do sometimes get when you have two analysts in the booth at the same time.
  • The Mets have lost catcher Omar Narvaez for at least a couple months, and have called up top prospect Francisco Alvarez. We know they love his bat – everyone does – but now we’ll see how much they trust him behind the plate.
  • The Athletic looked at every team’s worst contract right now, and the Cubs show up as one of the few teams without one (after acknowledging that it assuredly WOULD have been the final year remaining on Jason Heyward’s deal, but they let him go). You’d probably have to argue that it’s Dansby Swanson’s deal, but since the Cubs JUST signed it, you know they aren’t looking to get out of the contract (which was kind of the way the article was looking at “worst” contracts). So, the Cubs have no “bad” contracts on the books right now. (I’m guessing they didn’t look at the minor leagues, though, where the answer probably would’ve been David Bote, who can still play and all that, but the Cubs are currently paying him around $5 million per year for this and next season to serve as minor league depth.)
  • The worst of the worst on the list? It kinda sounds like they landed on Kris Bryant’s deal with the Rockies, and that’s sad:
  • LF Kris Bryant
    2022: 42 games played
    Remaining contract: Six years, $158 million

    The first year of Bryant’s $182 million contract in Colorado was a wash, swept away by a back injury and a foot injury. The Rockies probably outbid other teams to sign Bryant in the first place by adding another year and $20-something million. But they watched one of his prime years melt away.

    Think of it this way: If he were a free agent last winter, would any team have signed a 31-year-old Bryant coming off multiple injuries to a six-year, $158 million contract? The Cubs nabbed Dansby Swanson for a similar amount. The Yankees added Carlos Rodón in that neighborhood. Bryant’s is the most expensive bad contract on our list. And he is now among the least tradable players in baseball. (He has a full no-trade clause anyway.)

    written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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