The Rundown: Celebrating Those ’16 Glory Days, Cubs Exercise Quintana Option, Sunday Baseball Notes

Yesterday marked the three year-anniversary of the Cubs’ Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians to win their first championship in 108 years. Nothing was more annoying than the NBC Sports Chicago Twitter account doing a play-by-play recap of the game as if it was playing out in real time. I am assuming the station replayed the game for Chicago viewers.

Further adding to my uneasiness were the many individuals who were live-streaming the replay. Cubs fans are a rare and eccentric subset of baseball fandom, and live streaming (aka online watch parties) real-time or replayed broadcasts has become the rage lately for fans of both Cubs baseball and Bears football. Nobody watches those things, and frankly I’m surprised that a crackdown on team and league licensing violations has yet to occur.

As for me, I was home sick and in bed, and by so doing had a far more productive night by simply doing nothing.

I’m all about nostalgia and I love anniversaries as much as the next guy, but that type of recap fails to capture the emotion of the moment as it was truly happening in 2016. Most Cubs fans know exactly what occurs at each key moment of the replay, and that makes it tough, at least for me, to buy into the magic the event tried to recreate.

I’m more concerned about what the Cubs intend to do to get back to the World Series next year and the year after. If fans of Chicago’s North Side baseball club are going to continue to live on the memories of ’16, that dog is going to age a little too rapidly for my tastes. It’s time to make new memories before the Cubs become baseball’s equivalent of the post-85 Bears.

Cubs News & Notes

This Week’s Baseball Trivia

David Ross finished his playing career with 106 home runs.

Updates on Nine

  1. The Phillies intend to spend stupid money again this offseason, and are reportedly locked in on free agent starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. Philadelphia’s front office will meet at some point soon to plot out two scenarios for the organization: “one with Cole and one without him.” Their backup plan likely includes Anthony Rendon and/or Stephen Strasburg, and don’t be surprised if rumors involving Kris Bryant surface a few times this winter, too.
  2. Mark Saxon of The Athletic suggests it’s possible that Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor could find a new home with the Cardinals (subscription required). Saxon indicated that Lindor could be had for Nolan Gorman and another prospect, along with either Paul DeJong, Kolten Wong, or Tommy Edman.
  3. The Cardinals might have another big acquisition on their horizon. That move, as suggested by veteran St. Louis sports writer Rob Rain, would be to acquire Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts. Rains suggests offering Boston a combination of Wong, Harrison Bader, and Carlos Martinez in a trade for the superstar outfielder. The salaries offset nicely, but I’m guessing talks would die immediately if St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty isn’t headlining that package.
  4. For teams looking to upgrade in centerfield without mortgaging prospect capital, Japanese League standout Shogo Akiyama might be the best option. Akiyama, 31, is a career .301/.376/.454 hitter over nine professional seasons, and hit .303/.392/.471 with 31 doubles, 20 home runs and 12 steals with the Seibu Lions in 2019. Though Seibu hopes to re-sign their all-star, Akiyama has been mentioned as a fit for the Padres, Mariners, Diamondbacks, and Cubs.
  5. The Pirates are picking up next season’s $11.5 million team option on Starling Marte and might make the centerfielder available in trade. Per MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Mets, Reds, Padres, and Cubs would all have varying degrees of interest. Marte hit .295 last season with a .342 OBP, 23 home runs, and 25 stolen bases.
  6. The Nationals will decline their $18 million option on first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, but are said to be interested in bringing back the 35-year-old on a new contract at an AAV in the $5-$7 million range. Zimmerman was the very first draft pick of the Nationals after they relocated from Montreal following the 2004 season, and he made his professional debut with the team on September 1, 2005.
  7. The Royals declined their half of the 2020 mutual option shared with outfielder Alex Gordon. The option would have been worth $23 million, but Kansas City chose to buy him out for $4 million with the hope they can re-sign him at a lower price.
  8. Third baseman Mike Moustakas declined his half of a mutual option with the Brewers, electing to test the free agent market instead. Moustakas, who turned 31 in September, is a free agent for the third straight offseason after earning $18.7 million in a pair of one-year deals. Catcher Yasmani Grandal also elected free agency. Brewers general manager David Stearns has not closed the door on bringing back either player, though Milwaukee now has nine free agents and 14 players eligible for arbitration.
  9. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Blake Treinen will likely be non-tendered this week by the Athletics, making the former all-star closer a free agent. In 2018, Treinen converted 38 of 43 save chances with a 0.78 ERA, en route to a sixth-place finish in the American League Cy Young voting, though he vastly underperformed this season, losing his role to Liam Hendricks. Treinen might be a decent option for the Cubs on a one- or two-year deal with an AAV in the $2-3 million range.

Ed. note: I’m assuming Mike was either crashed out or simply didn’t want to write about Aroldis Chapman, but the former Cubs closer agreed late last night to a re-worked deal with the Yankees. Rather than opt out of the remaining two years and $30 million on his previous contract, Chapman will receive an additional year at $18 million. That keeps him in New York through 2022, his age-34 season. Jeff Passan has more on the motivations of Chapman and the team to get this done.

On Deck

Here are the 131 players who have officially filed for or have been granted free agency. The list is bound to grow as options are officially declined and players exercise opt-outs. Additionally, some of the players on the list are still eligible to receive and accept a qualifying offer from their current teams, and could then be retained for one more season.

Extra Innings

You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to access the full article, but the gist of it is that representatives of Major League Baseball made a proposal to the Players Association, suggesting a signing deadline on multi-year contracts for free agents. The deadline would have been set for the end of the Winter Meetings, which this year will take place December 8-12 in San Diego. Unsurprisingly, the union rejected the proposal.

Extra Innings

Hunter Pence has already won the offseason, and he cannot be dethroned. Pence is a free agent this winter and I’d love to see the Cubs bring him to Chicago as a fourth outfielder.

They Said It

  • “[MLB] wants to make the offseason more predictive as to when players sign, and the answer to do that is to provide incentive, not limitation, on the free-agent right.” – Scott Boras

Sunday Walk Up Song

Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. Sorry, as much as I loved 2016, I’m far more interested in the future than the past.

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