The Rundown: Cubs Seemingly Sitting on Sidelines, Swanson Still Strong Possibility, New Top 10 Prospect Ranks

The Cubs are still not on the outside looking in when it comes to shortstops Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson, but a trio of catchers switched teams yesterday, including one that was heavily linked to Chicago. Christian Vázquez signed a three-year deal with the Twins, who will now focus their attention on signing Correa. Meanwhile, the Braves, Brewers, and A’s pulled off a three-team deal that saw Sean Murphy go from Oakland to Atlanta. William Contreras was part of that trade and he’ll be Milwaukee’s starter in 2023.

As Evan so elegantly put it yesterday, “there will now be multiple Contreri facing the Cubs in the NL Central.”

If you’re keeping track at home, Jed Hoyer is still standing on the sidelines with his hands in his pockets. He’s doing a better job of protecting the Ricketts family treasure than Tom Ricketts himself. Who knew Bob Cratchit would become as miserly as Ebenezer Scrooge? If the Twins successfully pivot to Correa and the Dodgers or Giants land Swanson, the Cubs will be looking at a worse shopping season than last year. That won’t sit well with the bosses, who have reportedly mandated that Hoyer make a splash or two.

Carlos Rodón is still available, as is Noah Syndergaard (yawn). But the Cubs need offense and assuming they do not get one of the remaining shortstops, the best options will be J.D. Martinez, Jurickson Profar, Brandon Drury, Michael Conforto, and Nelson Cruz. Drury might be a perfect fit for Chicago because of his versatility and could end up being one of those players that fall into Hoyer’s lap because there aren’t any other options.

If you’re hoping Hoyer and GM Carter Hawkins might have a trade or two up their sleeves, that market has been relatively cold, though the Murphy deal might serve as a mildly warm catalyst. As fans, we’re staring straight down the barrel of another disappointing winter. The faceoff at 10 paces between ownership and the front office, alleged as it may be, could end up being the dominant story for the rest of this winter. Hoyer could save face by signing Correa and Rodón, but that seems almost impossible given the executive’s strategy.

Keep in mind that failing to add experienced talent to the roster puts a lot more pressure on the first wave of rookies. Matt Mervis and Brennen Davis will suffer growing pains, as will Hayden Wesneski, Ben Brown, and Caleb Kilian. Pete Crow-Armstrong? He will not be counted on to regularly produce until 2024 at the earliest.

Is it possible that Cody Bellinger, Marcus Stroman, Ian Happ, and possibly Jameson Taillon will be flip candidates next July? Perhaps the president of baseball operations is planning on getting one more shot at a lottery pick this year. Chicago finished 2022 on a 39-31 (.557) run, so that might be a longshot. That won’t help sagging attendance at Wrigley Field or dwindling viewership on Marquee Sports Network. Those alarming numbers would seem to be the impetus behind the mandate to spend.

Who knows? Perhaps Hoyer will sign Rodón and one of Correa/Swanson to put a much more positive spin on the offseason. As things stand right now, Hoyer seems to have isolated himself from Ricketts, Crane Kenney, and the rest of baseball.

Cubs News and Notes

Odds and Sods

Raise your hand if you remember Champ Summers. How about “Tarzan” Joe Wallis? I do remember watching Rennie Stennett get seven hits against the Cubs in 1975.

Tuesday Stove

Here’s the full breakdown of the rare three-way trade involving the A’s, Braves, and Brewers.

The Mets are baseball’s biggest spenders but will be laser-focused on signing Shohei Ohtani if he hits free agency next season.

You may not like Mets owner Steve Cohen, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says baseball needs more owners like him ($).

The CBT and AAV are the biggest drivers behind baseball’s latest spending spree.

With labor peace assured, a handful of aggressive owners in place, and industry revenues hitting a record $11 billion, front offices are finally adopting an ethos more associated with a dugout manager. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

The Blue Jays have agreed to a three-year, $63 million contract with free-agent RHP Chris Bassitt.

Toronto also “has some degree of interest” in Eovaldi, Rodón, and others.

The asking price for Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds remains exceedingly high.

Ex-MLB pitcher T.J. House revealed that he is gay and announced his engagement to his boyfriend. “I have purposefully distanced myself from people for the sake of trying to protect myself. It’s disheartening how one simple thing can change an individual’s opinion of you in a matter of seconds.”

House joins Billy Bean and Glenn Burke as the only openly gay former MLB players.

Players such as Michael Fulmer and Michael Wacha aren’t premium free agents, but they could be decent under-the-radar signings for teams looking to add wins under market value.

Extra Innings

The new mantra for Cubs fans.

Tuesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The Bears are coming off of a loss to the Packers and a bye week. They play the 12-1 Eagles on Sunday followed by a tilt with the Bills as Chicago jockeys for the No. 2 draft pick. The focus on the rest of the season should be the further development of Justin Fields and rookies Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, Braxton Jones, Dominique Robinson, and Jack Sanborn. It would be a good idea to see if wide receivers Chase Claypool and N’Keal Harry are worth keeping next season, too.
  2. “I don’t think I will be arrested,” Sam Bankman-Fried said on Twitter Spaces yesterday, hours before he was arrested. Bankman-Fried is accused of “orchestrating a scheme to defraud equity investors in FTX” in a civil complaint. Criminal charges will be issued later this morning.
  3. Apparently, electric cars and AM radios don’t play nicely. EV manufacturers are booting the old-timey radio band from their vehicles, citing electromagnetic interference that causes pesky noise and static.
  4. Elon Musk was heckled by a crowd in San Francisco after being brought onstage during a Dave Chappelle show. Musk is a fascinating character, isn’t he?
  5. A television docuseries based on the likes of Dan Hill, Ambrosia, Michael McDonald, and England Dan and John Ford Coley doesn’t seem like it would be a profitable endeavor. Paramount Plus disagrees.
  6. Led Zeppelin wanted to go on tour in 2008 but would have to do it sans Robert Plant. The band actually auditioned Steven Tyler of Aerosmith as a potential replacement.

They Said It

  • “There’s a lot of really good free agents still on the market.” – Hoyer
  • “We’ll certainly continue to be active in trying to find bats and fill out the offense. There is a lot of offseason left.” – Hoyer
  • “There are certain baseball truisms that I really think are true. And being strong up the middle really helps and especially with the new rules, I think it’s really important to have really good defense up the middle.” – Hoyer

Tuesday Walk-Up Song

“Switchin’ it over to AM, searching for a truer sound. Can’t recall the call letters, steel guitar, and settle down. Catching an all-night station somewhere near Louisiana. It sounds like 1963 but for now, it sounds like heaven.” – Jay Farrar

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