The Rundown: Cubs Sign Bellinger and Taillon, Hoyer Not Done Yet, Judge Signs Record Deal with Yankees, Hot Stove on Fire

The Cubs finally struck in free agency last night, adding a center fielder and a starting pitcher. It’s exciting news on the surface, but stopping there would mean Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins would fail to meet last year’s big acquisitions of Wade Miley, Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, and Seiya Suzuki. In fact, Miley and/or Smyly might be a nice addition to a rotation that now includes Stroman, Justin Steele, Adrian Sampson, Kyle Hendricks, and new acquisition Jameson Taillon.

Taillon signed a four-year, $68 million deal that was finalized just after 2am local time, a move that was immediately bashed as an overpay by a lot of fans. That’s the going rate for pitching this year, and Taillon signed for market price. Hoyer could still sign Koudai Senga, but I’d bet he beats the five-year, $75 million projection most initially thought would be fair value. Some teams, including the Mets, preferred Taillon to Senga.

The Cubs also landed former MVP and Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, another move that was ripped by the Facebook contingency. Bellinger will get $12.5 million with a $5 million buyout on a mutual option, giving Chicago excellent flexibility on and off the field since Bellinger can also play first base and DH. The 27-year-old is eligible for a qualifying offer, too, or he could agree to a mid-season extension. The sky is the limit with Bellinger, however, but at the very least, Hoyer paid $17.5 million to possibly add a compensatory pick in 2024.

“Obviously as you look at our lineup next year and where some of the opportunities are to add a bat or to add a defender, centerfield is certainly one of the spots,” said Hawkins. “First base is a spot that we’ve talked about as well. And we’re certainly always looking for left-handed hitting.”

It seems to me that Scott Boras wouldn’t have let Bellinger sign a deal for less than his arb projection with a sub-.500 team unless the superagent believed that more reinforcements were coming. As it stands, Chicago’s lineup offers little protection for the Gold Glove outfielder. But, combined with Suzuki and Ian Happ, Bellinger gives the Cubs elite outfield defense. Once Hoyer shores up his infield, Chicago’s North Side baseballers should be considered contenders for a Wild Card spot at the very least.

Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts are Boras clients, Dansby Swanson remains unsigned, and the Cubs are still in the market for a shortstop or two. The team also needs a catcher and a first baseman, which means there is a good chance we might see another acquisition or two before everybody leaves San Diego.

Cubs News & Notes

Apropos of Nothing

The Taillon signing reminds me a lot of Chicago’s acquisition of Kevin Tapani in 1997. The contracts are pretty similar once you adjust for inflation and the current marketplace. Their statistical profiles are nearly interchangeable, too, though Taillon has a better strikeout rate. Like Tapani, the 31-year-old righty comes to Chicago with a diminishing fastball.

Odds & Sods

Kevin Millar broke the Bellinger signing to David Ross on Intentional Talk. The Cubs manager hilariously dropped a shitburger in response.

Wednesday Stove

Aaron Judge and the Yankees have agreed on a massive nine-year, $360 million contract. Expect the Giants to pivot to one of the three remaining shortstops, with Correa being their top choice.

The Padres were the mystery team in the Judge sweepstakes and reportedly made a $400 million offer to the AL home run king. Don’t forget, Trea Turner also spurned a better offer from San Diego to sign with the Phillies.

Teams who were pursuing Judge will switch gears to the three remaining shortstops and the top remaining starter, Carlos Rodón.

If you’re trying to discern what a Rodón contract may look like, use the deal Robbie Ray signed with the Blue Jays in 2021 as a guide.

The Giants did add to their outfield yesterday, signing Mitch Haniger to a contract worth $43.5 million.

Walker will get four years and $72 million from the Phillies, who are now looking to sign reliever Matt Strahm.

The Guardians and first baseman Josh Bell have agreed to terms on a two-year, $33 million contract.

The A’s have signed utility player Jace Peterson to a two-year deal.

The Angels are looking for a catcher and could target Barnhart or Gary Sanchez in free agency, or Danny Jansen in a trade with Toronto.

The Dodgers may pursue outfielder Kevin Kiermaier now that they’ve officially lost Bellinger.

David Price will not pitch in 2023 though he hasn’t officially retired.

MLB will conduct its Rule 5 Draft today.

Here are the hottest names available in today’s selection process.

A study claims that the league used baseballs with three different weights in 2022, with a disproportionate number of them being found at Yankee Stadium.

Rob Manfred is hopeful that the Angels will be sold by Opening Day.

Extra Innings

This is a nice reel highlighting the best of Taillon.

Wednesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Today marks the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the US entering World War II.
  2. Did you know you could make upwards of half a million per year as a lifeguard in Los Angeles?
  3. Gigantic fish are once again thriving in the Amazon.
  4. Here’s how you know when to leave Bob Dylan alone.
  5. December means the return of College Football Bowl season. How about we organize a road trip to The Nassau Bowl?
  6. The Ringer has a podcast series called “60 Songs That Define the ’90s” and it’s worth your time, I promise.

Ed. note: I agree heartily with the podcast recommendation, it’s incredible. There are actually more than 60 songs and the detail gets even more intricate in the second season, great stuff for those who truly want to know about what went into making a particular song.

They Said It

  • “I would say we don’t need a pitch, but it is a heck of a pitch. I mean, Chicago is an unreal city. And we all know that, especially in the summer. An unreal fan base. The support that we have, the players feel that and they talk about that and they know that coming in — it sells itself because we’re trying to sell it each and every day. And I think the city and the fan base have done a great job making it a really attractive place for guys.” – Hawkins
  • “[Bellinger] is a really good fit from a perspective of [his] great defense, great baserunning, and left-handed bat with the potential to have an uptick offensively if that works out. [His] bad habits create mistakes or make it tougher to hit and then you get into this rabbit hole of chasing the feeling that you used to have and where you’re at mechanically. There’s a lot of freedom in getting a full offseason to get healthy, recognize that and a change of scenery sometimes is a benefit for a lot of guys.” – Ross
  • “You can never have enough pitching. That’s a pretty tried and true heuristic there. We would absolutely look to add as many [arms] as we can. I think we do have great internal options already that are guys that we want to continue to give innings to. But there are other guys out there that we’d be interested in bringing on board and continue to supplement that staff and definitely, we’re engaged in that market.” – Hawkins

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

Let’s play two!

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