Baseball’s Turn, The In-Between Feeling, Pirates Sign Grandal, Duran, Yamamoto, Suzuki, and Other Cubs Bullets

For three-ish quarters, that was an ugly, sloppy, kinda boring game. The NFL scriptwriters got it right, though, because that made the fourth quarter and overtime all the more surprising and thrilling. Good game. Good time. And now IT’S BASEBALL SEASON.

  • … er, well, mostly. That’s kind of the line we always use as soon as the Super Bowl ends, because it always comes right before Spring Training starts. But for the Cubs, thanks to an offseason that has played out in especially protracted fashion, it’s still really hard to feel that “IT’S BASEBALL SEASON” energy. The Cubs still need another bat, and the best fit is still out there in Cody Bellinger. It sucks that the feeling of baseball’s arrival is forestalled for a lot of us, but I also have to keep reminding myself that there’s no good reason to assume Bellinger – or any of the remaining major free agents – is going to sign this week just to get a deal done for the “start” of Spring Training. This staring contest will almost certainly last much longer.
  • Which means we just have to deal with the weird half-feeling of baseball arriving without the offseason having been complete. I’ll keep on hoping for a Cody Bellinger re-signing sooner rather than later, and also perhaps an “opportunistic” pitcher signing (starter or bullpen would be fine and could be accommodated).
  • I really like this way of putting things, from the guys at The Athletic: “Depending on your perspective, the Cubs are either demonstrating prudence or lacking conviction. There are times when the Cubs appear to be focused on the best deals more than the best players, though their roster has enough question marks that they should be involved in all kinds of conversations. Staying in touch with agents, reading the markets and making a compelling offer before the deadline is how the Cubs signed Imanaga to a four-year, $53 million contract. Hiring Counsell and firing David Ross was a jaw-dropping moment that showed the Cubs can make big things happen. Having this much talent still left on the free-agent market — after failing to make the playoffs — is another opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.”
  • None of that means the Cubs should materially damage future seasons by going crazy and signing all four Scott Boras clients right now, and it also doesn’t mean these guys will all sign deals that I’d have wanted the Cubs to do. But until they sign, they are sitting right there to be added to this roster and improve the Cubs’ chances of winning AN EXTREMELY WINNABLE NL Central. We’ll see what kind of contracts these guys get and when they get them. But if even one of Bellinger, Chapman, Montgomery, or Snell signs an extremely reasonable contract, and the Cubs get none of them, then it’ll be fair to be deeply frustrated about an opportunity missed. I get that this free agent class was really not great overall. But this February 12th class of free agents? Pretty freaking loaded for February.
  • It’s a ‘C’ for now, which sounds generous, but is probably about right if you include Craig Counsell as one of the moves:
  • Sign Cody Bellinger and Ryne Stanek, and this offseason for the Cubs becomes a pretty clear ‘B’ or ‘B+’ for me.
  • The Pirates are bringing in formerly-excellent catcher Yasmani Grandal:
  • Grandal, 35, has been pretty awful the last two years (offensively and defensively), and while that doesn’t assure awfulness in 2024, history hasn’t been kind to catchers in their 30s who’ve shown signs of decline. You’ll recall that the Pirates lost prospect Endy Rodriguez for the year due to a winter ball injury, so they had an extra need behind the plate. That said, I’m not sure Grandal is much of an improvement over the Jason Delay/Henry Davis combo the Pirates could’ve otherwise been running out there. Is the Grandal move a further indication that the Pirates just don’t see Davis – a former first overall pick – being a catcher in the big leagues?
  • Jarren Duran would be a very on-point addition for the Padres (apparently there are some trade rumors there between the Padres and Red Sox), because they (1) have no money left, and (2) have literally two outfielders on the 40-man roster. What would be very interesting, though, is what would happen after the Red Sox trade away their presumptive center fielder. Maybe they decide to go with a young guy like Wilyer Abreu or Ceddanne Rafaela, or maybe they decide to spend some real money on the best center fielder on the market. Gulp.
  • Apparently Yoshinobu Yamamoto is already impressing in Dodgers camp (NY Post): “Even in Yamamoto’s first bullpen session on Friday, Dodgers officials were stoked by the easy 95-96 mph fastball. The depth on his off-speed offerings had them holding two hands apart to emphasize the drop. Plus, a breaking ball ‘that seems to speed up as it approaches the plate,’ (Dodgers GM Brandon) Gomes said. All with pinpoint location.”
  • Yeah, he looks like a football player:
  • Seiya Suzuki is in Arizona, and he is running:
  • 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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