The Rundown: Diminishing Market Could Lead Wong to Cubs, Alzolay Ready for Rotation, Chafin Returns, Giants Outfielder Opens Up About Mental Health Issues

The Cardinals sure are making it easy for the Cubs to grab Kolten Wong in free agency.  The second baseman checks so many boxes for Chicago it’s almost like the two were destined to be together. In fact, the only blocker I can see is that Tom Ricketts won’t want to spend what it may take to sign him.

While St. Louis is celebrating the coup they staged to rob the Rockies of Nolan Arenado, Wong continues to wait out a market that has been slow to develop, at least for his services. A two-time Gold Glove winner, the former Cardinal has mixed outstanding defense (55 DRS, 32.6 UZR) with respectable offensive production throughout his career. He’s not one of the game’s top-10 second baseman, but he’d still be a great addition for the North Side baseballers.

That could come to pass even with the Cubs’ limited means because Wong doesn’t appear to be a needed commodity among teams showing at least some willingness to spend money this winter.

It’s been reported that the Cardinals have “little interest” in bringing back the 30-year-old infielder, which is a dispassionate way of saying they’re content to give the job to Tommy Edman or Matt Carpenter if the free agent doesn’t lower his asking price. With Arenado taking over at third, Wong may not even have a position with St. Louis. Edman will likely be the team’s starter, with Carpenter picking up spot starts backing him up while filling in at third base when needed.

Most experts agree that Wong should get a two-year deal for approximately $16 million, something the Cubs can easily afford if they’re willing to. Jed Hoyer could be playing a long game of sorts, too, hoping that figure comes down as players get closer to report dates. Wong has apparently received at least preliminary interest from the Cubs, and a few other teams have him on their radar as well, namely the Tigers, Mariners, Rays, and Phillies.

Detroit has two familiar infield faces that would seem to negate the need to explore another in free agency: Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes, both former Cubs farmhands. The Tigers plan on experimenting with Parades, who mashed during winter ball, at second base, and Candelario is coming off of his best year as a pro. Harold Castro is a solid backup and Detroit has already added about $12 million to its payroll, the bulk going to outfielder Robbie Grossman.

The Rays just spent $6.5 million to sign starter Chris Archer and have young star Brandon Lowe at the keystone already. The Phillies are probably done spending after re-signing J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius; the Mariners haven’t really spent any money this winter and do not appear to be interested in diving into the free agent pool this late in the offseason.

That leaves the Cubs with at least a little leverage as Wong’s market continues to diminish. His defense would be a real asset to a team that is collecting starters who tend to pitch to contact while keeping the ball on the ground. He’d be a much steadier presence in the batting order than Nico Hoerner and would allow the Cubs to give their young infielder more time to develop offensively.

Lastly, and probably not something anybody wants to think about right now, Hoerner could replace Javier Báez at shortstop if the Cubs trade him or cannot extend him, leaving a long-term opening at second base.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Rockies fans are the polar opposite of Cardinals fans right now, and with good reason.

Wednesday Stove

Former Giants and Rangers outfielder Drew Robinson attempted to take his own life on April 16, 2020. He survived and has now shared his remarkable story with ESPN’s Jeff Passan to encourage others to be able to talk through depression and other mental health issues.

Nelson Cruz is returning to the Twins. The slugging DH inked a one-year deal that will pay him $13 million.

The Rockies are adamant that the Arenado trade does not signify a rebuild.

Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the acquisition of Arenado means St. Louis “can contend with anybody.”

Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle signed a one-year deal with the Reds, pending a physical, but his heart remains with the Nationals.

For MLB owners, playoff revenues apparently trump health and safety.

A work stoppage ahead of the 2022 season is becoming increasingly likely.

Extra Innings

Mickey Mantle just gave me my favorite baseball quote ever. Don Drysdale was a bad man.

On Deck

If Alzolay sticks he would give the Cubs rotation a vastly different look. The top three starters, (Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, and Alec Mills) rely on control and deception. At the end of last season, Alzolay was throwing 95 mph fastballs while consistently locating his slider in the zone.

They Said It

  • “[Adbert Alzolay] has positioned himself to give himself every opportunity to earn a rotation spot, for sure. [He’s] done all the work – probably above and beyond all the work, he’s so diligent. So, I’m excited for him, I’m excited for this opportunity, but he needs to come into camp ready and go earn that job.” – Matt Dorey

Wednesday Walk Up Song

American Pie by Don McLean – Passed away on this day in 1959: Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly.

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