The Rundown: Further Dispelling Juan Soto Backlash, Kevin Alcántara Working on K-Rate, Multiple Postseason Records Being Set

“I sense a smell of retribution in the air. I don’t even understand why the f**k you even care, and I don’t need your jealousy. Why drag me down in your misery?” – Guns N’ Roses, Get in the Ring

Evan did a great job of dispelling some of the myths attached to acquiring Juan Soto, but I’d like to add a half-dozen if I may. I don’t understand why a lot of fans have such a distaste for acquiring Soto. I get that some are afraid of trading prospects, but Jed Hoyer has been very astute when it comes to making trades, going back to when he acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Padres.

The Cubs and Padres have been willing trade partners for a little more than a decade and both teams surely have a good handle on what it would take to consummate a Soto trade. Chicago has a large surplus of good to very good prospects and enviable depth. San Diego wants to reduce payroll and reset, as they’re in a position similar to where Hoyer was when he traded his core of Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez. The two teams match up well in this case.

The likeliest suitors for Soto are the Cubs and Yankees, and the New York rumors have died down considerably. I’d expect the Rangers and Phillies to be involved at some point, too. The Cubs are probably the favorites, at least from a speculative standpoint, because their farm system is the deepest among the other potentially interested parties. With that in mind, let me further address some of the fan pushback I’ve come across.

  1. Soto is a clubhouse cancer. I have no idea what would make anybody think the young outfielder is detrimental to team chemistry. Yes, he questioned his teammates’ desire to win this season, but can anybody argue that San Diego massively underperformed? It appears to me that the entire team played with the enthusiasm of a hippopotamus, so I give Soto credit for stepping up. The right fielder apologized, by the way, which dismisses any questions about his alleged immaturity. Some people say Soto is also an anti-vaxxer, and he was initially before changing his mind. The 2021 Cubs, by the way, were one of the last teams to meet MLB’s COVID threshold requirements.
  2. The Cubs are floating trade rumors to force Bellinger to accept an extension offer. I have a hard time believing Hoyer operates in that manner. I also think it’s funny that anybody believes Scott Boras is so gullible he’d let Hoyer manipulate him by pitting two of his top clients against each other.
  3. Payroll restrictions prevent Hoyer from acquiring Soto’s contract. MLB Trade Rumors projects Soto to earn $33 million through arbitration in 2024 and the Padres are reportedly willing to pay a huge chunk of that to get a better return of prospects. Hoyer would probably object to that and rightly so, especially if Soto’s market stagnates or dissipates. With that said, Christopher Morel alone will not be enough to green-light a deal. Hoyer should exercise patience because the Cubs have a lot of money coming off the books, plus they don’t owe any more money to Jason Heyward. They still owe Trey Mancini $7 million, but that’s chump change. I also believe that Marcus Stroman will opt out.
  4. Soto doesn’t have a spot in Chicago’s outfield. As Evan mentioned, the Cubs aren’t trading Seiya Suzuki or Ian Happ because both have no-trade clauses. Soto is a generational talent, so trust me, David Ross will have no trouble getting him plate appearances. He was sixth in all of baseball in oWAR (6.1), third in OBP (.410), and ninth in OPS (.930). The Cubs did not have a top-10 player in any of those categories. Soto also led the majors with 132 bases on balls. Happ led the Cubs with 99 this year.
  5. The Cubs aren’t in a position to go all-in on one player. This is completely false. If the Cubs had won one more game against the Diamondbacks or two overall, they would have made the playoffs. Soto finished the season with 5.5 fWAR. I understand that trading with the Padres probably (though not necessarily) means punting on Cody Bellinger, but Ross also won’t be spending a third of the 2024 season regularly playing Mancini and Eric Hosmer. I’d rather have one year of Soto than multiple years of Bellinger, who could be in for major regression based on BABIP and an alarmingly low hard-hit rate. The Cubs are clearly inside a competitive window and should therefore pull the trigger on a Soto trade.
  6. Chicago is better off signing Bellinger and trading for Pete Alonso. I suppose a point can be made if you assume Bellinger won’t regress next season, but we’re talking about spending a lot more money for potentially one extra win provided both men repeat their 2023 seasons. Alonso is also in a walk year, will earn $14.5 million in ’24, and will cost the Cubs nearly the same in prospects as Soto. Bellinger will get a contract that meets or exceeds $25 million AAV. By the way, what happened to all the support for Matt Mervis? Give me Soto and Mervis over Bellinger and Alonso, please and thank you.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Scouts are divided ($) on Bellinger’s bounce-back season and the acquisition of Soto according to Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic.
  • Outfield prospect Kevin Alcántara wants to work on improving his 23.8% strikeout rate. That said, he’s struck out 16 times in 44 AFL plate appearances (36.4%).

Odds & Sods

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Central Intelligence

World Series News & Notes

Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte has an 18-game postseason hitting streak, which is a new MLB record.

Arizona is counting on young stars like Corbin Carroll, Gabriel Moreno, Alek Thomas, and Geraldo Perdomo as the Diamondbacks return home for three games with the series tied 1-1.

Rangers outfielder Adolis García set a new postseason record for RBI.

Max Scherzer will take the bump for Texas tonight, while Arizona will counter with Brandon Pfaadt. Scherzer started his career with the Diamondbacks back in 2008.

Postseason parity is hardly a new phenomenon, so let’s stop blaming the current format.

Monday Stove

MLB experts expect the Orioles to trade from a position of strength this season, which means Austin Hays or Anthony Santander could be moved in favor of Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad.

Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes, David Bednar, Paul Goldschmidt, and Mike Trout are among a handful of players that could be traded this winter.

The Sporting News named Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. its MLB Player of the Year.

The Rangers are expected to pursue two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani this winter.

The league’s vote on the A’s plan to relocate to Las Vegas will take place in early November at the Owner’s Meetings.

Extra Innings

Cade Horton certainly deserves the accolades, and I’d imagine he’s as close to untouchable as any prospect the Cubs have.

They Said It

  • “The focus for Alcántara is continuing to get reps and making good decisions in the box. We think he has the athleticism and tools to impact the game in many ways. All we focus on is making sure we have a plan to help him get better every day.” – Jared Banner
  • “I feel good right now. My focus is thinking about hitting up the middle and keeping my stroke shorter. Sometimes I swing at a bad pitch because I’m seeing a lot of pitchers. But I try to work every day on improving my strike zone.” – Alcántara

Monday Walk-Up Song

Every Cubs fan should be on board with acquiring Soto.

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