The Rundown: Boxberger Fits Hoyer’s Misfit Mentality, Andrus or Báez Could Be Plan B Shortstop Option, Padres Win Offseason Again

I think it’s time we switched gears and lavished a little praise on the Chicago White Sox. I’m not sure where Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams have been since early October, but that duo has made Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins look downright spendthrifty. When the Cubs signed former All-Star reliever Brad Boxberger, I figured Liam Hendriks wasn’t as available as some reports suggest. Hoyer should have been all over Hendriks because, you know, the Cubs intend to compete for the NL Central crown next season.

Unfortunately, or maybe not if he can regain his 2015 form, Cubs fans will have to learn to love and appreciate Boxberger. The righty racked up 41 saves for the Rays in ’15 and we all know how badly Hoyer wants to model the Cubs after the Tampa Bay franchise. Perhaps the president of baseball operations can coax Fred McGriff out of retirement to back up Matt Mervis at first base.

The first base market dried up pretty quickly, and the catching market is following suit. Hoyer has yet to find a suitable backup to Yan Gomes, though I personally have no problem with P.J. Higgins. Chicago’s front office might feel the same way, which scares me a little because I’d rather not be attached to that particular brand of groupthink. Higgins is better than anybody that is still available, but Hoyer has time to choose among the likes of Gary Sánchez, Jorge Alfaro, Tucker Barnhart, and Curt Casali. Is Dioner Navarro still playing? What about John Jaso?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Chicago’s alleged pursuit of shortstop Dansby Swanson. The former Braves star is currently on his honeymoon. Most fans are attaching their hopes to the fact that Swanson’s new wife plays professional soccer in the Windy City. That’s where we’ve landed in this iteration of superstar shortstop shopping season. We’re hoping Hoyer gets an assist from Cupid. Wake me up when December ends.

Cubs News and Notes

  • The latest “catcher that got away” is Omar Narváez. He’ll play for the Mets instead after agreeing to a two-year $15 million deal.
  • Incidentally, part of Hoyer’s job requires recalibrating plans to account for changes in the market. Consider this winter an epic failure because the team’s top executive refuses to do just that.
  • The winter that nobody saw coming made long-term deals the price of doing business, the types that remain well outside of Hoyer’s comfort zone.
  • It’s interesting that Hoyer said he felt lucky that he targeted Cody Bellinger and Jameson Taillon and was pleased he could sign both. I’m wondering if the executive will say he targeted Swanson if the shortstop does come to Chicago.
  • Javier Báez could be an option if the Tigers choose to trade him. Detroit owes Báez $120 million over the next five years, a mere pittance in today’s market. I would normally be against such a move, but I believe El Mago could resurrect his career if he came home.
  • Hoyer keeps things so close to the vest, we do not know if he’s transitioned to Plan B. What happens if Swanson goes elsewhere? Will Hoyer chase after Elvis Andrus? Or will he say the organization’s plan was always to leave Nico Hoerner at shortstop?
  • Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic wrote that the gap between where the Cubs are right now and where they need to be to have a realistic chance of making the playoffs next year appears to be growing ($).
  • I’m thinking out loud, but I can’t help but wonder if David Ross is as frustrated as the rest of us.
  • Michael Conforto is being linked to the Cubs again, and he’s a great fit, but not at the expense of Ian Happ.
  • If Hoyer trades Happ instead of extending him, it will actually be the biggest WTF moment of this winter.
  • I need to find a way to attend this year’s Cubs Convention. My employer is holding our Holiday Party on the same night the baseball event commences. There could be a riot at the Sheraton Grand Chicago next month.

Odds and Sods

What? You thought Philadephia writers called him “The Tugger” because his name was Tug McGraw? How naive.

Friday Stove

The Yankees agreed to terms with lefty starter Carlos Rodón on a six-year $162 million deal.

Scott Boras finalized the Rodón deal with the Yankees while attending a press conference in Boston to introduce new Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

The Red Sox are also rumored to be interested in Swanson as a replacement for Xander Bogaerts.

The Angels have some interest in Andrus.

The Orioles signed outfielder Adam Frazier to a one-year deal.

The Sean Murphy trade could serve as a catalyst for increased player movement between teams.

The Dodgers acquired infielder Yonny Hernandez in exchange for cash from the Athletics.

Two-time all-star Johnny Cueto has piqued the interest of the Reds.

The Padres and Giants are prime examples of teams that sign the best players available regardless of cost.

As of right now, the NL East is MLB’s strongest division.

By the way, San Diego won the offseason…again.

Extra Innings

If only Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki had a time machine.

They Said It

  • “[Bellinger] has a track record of a lot of success and dynamic defense,” Ross said. “I remember when he first got in the league. [He can play] first base, has smooth hands, dynamic center fielder, great outfielder. You know, he hasn’t had the success he had early on, but definitely has a lot of potential [to be] a great player.” – David Ross

Friday Walk-Up Song

I feel you, Jed. I’m also a rebel and a contrarian.

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