The Rundown: Cubs Coaching Staff Overhaul Continues, Re-Signing Daniel Murphy Unlikely, Thanking Our Readers

In what must now be considered a second consecutive coaching staff overhaul, the Cubs will be replacing two top coaches yet again. Though it was reported two weeks ago that Jim Hickey would be out as pitching coach, the club officially announced Tuesday that he stepped down due personal reasons after one year on the job.

It will be interesting to see who replaces him, as Hickey was definitely a Joe Maddon guy. He spent a decade with Maddon in Tampa and joined the Cubs after Chris Bosio was fired at the end of the 2017 season. The front office indicated that a search for Hickey’s replacement is underway.

Since the 2018 season ended, the Cubs have replaced hitting coach Chili Davis with Anthony Iapoce and assistant hitting coach Any Haines left to coach for the Brewers. This offseason has seen an abnormally high amount of turnover in front offices and baseball staffs and some teams are struggling to fill roles as a result.

Free Agent Profile: Daniel Murphy

The Cubs haven’t ruled out bringing Daniel Murphy back to the team because the second baseman can flat-out rake. In Theo Epstein’s mind, however, Murphy is probably not an everyday starter because he just can’t field very well. With that in mind, it seems more than likely that Murphy will sign with an AL team that needs a DH and backup second baseman.

Murphy has the second highest batting average in the majors over the last three seasons, behind only José Altuve. His bat still plays up, and his second-half slash line was .315/.346/.488. He’ll be affordable, probably in the $9-12 million AAV range, depending on if he signs a one- or two-year deal. At that price, the Indians should be all over Murphy, but the A’s, Rays, and Twins are likely in play, too.

As I am going through these available players, I am understanding more and more why Epstein has said that the Cubs won’t be a big factor in free agency this winter. From a cost/value perspective, the potential upgrades might not be worth the price tags attached to the better players. Yes, it’s only money and the Cubs are flush, but at some point, exercising restraint is just smart management. There isn’t one player available — not even Bryce Harper or Manny Machado — who guarantees a championship, and if that player was available, I do believe Epstein would sign him.

Handicapping Murphy:

  1. Indians
  2. Every other AL team

Cubs News & Notes

Wednesday Stove

Corey Kluber headlines a list of five top-of-rotation starters who could be dealt this winter.

The Indians and Dodgers are discussing several trade possibilities. Los Angeles covets Cleveland’s starting pitching. Catcher Yan Gomes would also be a nice get for the Dodgers.

The Indians have received significant interest in Gomes from a number of other teams, too.

C.J. Cron has been designated for assignment by the Rays. The first baseman slugged 30 homers for Tampa Bay last season with an OPS+ of 123. Looks like a potential Mariner to me.

Despite reinstatement by the Commissioner’s Office after a lifetime ban for PED use, relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia has been DFA’d by the Mets.

The Padres and Mariners are in discussions for a potential blockbuster trade of large-contract players.

The Twins and Diamondbacks have had “preliminary talks” about a Paul Goldschmidt trade, but the discussion has not “advanced in recent days.” The Astros and Cardinals are also interested in the lugging first baseman.

The Astros have made pitcher Charlie Morton a one-year offer with an option. 

The Yankees have discussed signing Harper with the intent of having him play first base.

The Rockies and Harper may be a good match, too.

David Price and Jonny Venters are the AL and NL Comeback Players of the Year.

There are nine first-round picks from 2014 and 2015 who will be available to be picked in the 2018 Rule 5 draft on Dec. 13, including Tyler Kolek and Braxton Davidson.

John Sickels’ Minor League Baseball blog has a complete list of players added to their teams’ 40-man rosters.

With the departure of Michael Brantley, the Indians’ outfield cupboard isn’t quite bare, but there is plenty of room in the cupboard.

On Deck

I want to say thanks to the Cubs Insider staff and all of our readers. I have been back now for a little over a year, despite a small break earlier in the year so I could catch up on life, and I have really enjoyed my time here and hope to continue for as long as Evan and Jon will have me. To the readers, your comments here and at other places I write warm my heart daily. I am thankful for each of you.

Enjoy your time with family and friends this Thanksgiving. Drive safely, and if you partake in activities that include the consumption of alcohol, please use a service like Uber or Lyft, or a have a designated driver. See you all Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Extra Innings

Need a nice heart-warming story to kick off your Thanksgiving weekend?

Seven-year-old Ayden Cazares has battled back from heart surgery and is fighting bullying with his own Facebook page, and was recently granted his birthday wish by none other than Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber. The Plainfield first-grader has long wanted to meet Schwarber and even posted a Facebook video comforting the left fielder after the Cubs’ season ended with a loss to the Rockies in the wild card game.

In honor of Bullying Prevention Month, Ayden also issued a Facebook challenge, asking other kids to do something kind. “Be nice to someone and do something for them,” Ayden said. “Share your details with me about it on my page.”

Ayden’s acts of kindness haven’t gone unnoticed. In August — just after the then 6-year-old underwent heart surgery — New York-based See the Wish announced that Ayden was named the organization’s monthly Be-A-Friend UpstanderSee-The-Wish is a non-profit which highlights children making a difference.

Wednesday Walk Up Song

The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby & The Range. If you find yourself wanting to do something nice, volunteer at a shelter or food bank this weekend. We sometimes take for granted the niceties in life while we battle against normal, everyday issues. Imagine if your everyday battle was finding a warm bed or a hot meal.

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