The Rundown: Boras-Hoyer Showdown Freezing Hot Stove, Triantos Named Breakout Candidate, Giants Acquire Ray

“I guess I’m trying to say, ‘Grab anything that goes by.’ It may not come around again.” – John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

I believe a showdown exists between Jed Hoyer and Scott Boras that has completely put the ice on this hot stove season. A few of the next free agent dominoes to fall are Boras clients, almost all have been linked to the Cubs, and neither executive seems willing to blink first. Welcome to baseball’s Steinbeckian winter.

Even though I’ve never liked Boras much, he does his job better than anybody. He’s loud and boorish, incredibly annoying to the ears at times, but rarely fails his clients. Hoyer is calculated and operates with a bravado that belies his Ivy League background. The super agent might be the lion in baseball’s jungle, but Hoyer is the thorn he can’t pluck from his heel, and winter transactions have stagnated as a result.

I’m sure sticker shock is playing a big part, too. The Dodgers spent a billion dollars on Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto and the trickle-down effect of such belligerent extravagance is certainly not lost on the rest of baseball. Payroll disparity has never been more evident and it’s probably bad for the game. Sure, a lot of teams horde money like it will never be minted again, even the so-called poorer ones, but how many franchises can truly spend like the Dodgers?

The Cubs can afford to compete financially with Los Angeles and Tom Ricketts sure sounds like he’s willing to do so, but his president of baseball operations leans very conservative when it comes to spending money. Whether it’s total value or AAV, Hoyer will get his man at his price and not a penny more, or he’ll pivot in another direction. The problem with that strategy can be summarized in Hoyer’s acquisitions thus far: Signing catchers Jorge Alfaro and Joe Hudson, plus relievers Edwin Escobar, Thomas Pannone, and Colten Brewer, all to minor league contracts.

That’s not much of a pivot at all, and none of those moves will help Chicago improve on its 83-win 2023 season. Frankly. I’m tired of writing about Hoyer, but his lack of player acquisitions is the only story at the corners of Clark & Addison. Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman believes the Cubs will announce a major league signing ahead of next Friday’s Cubs Convention, but I have serious doubts.

Neither Hoyer nor Boras appears to be willing to back down from their game of chicken. Unfortunately, the available players have more options than Chicago’s top executive does. Perhaps Cody Bellinger will step in and tell Boras just to accept Hoyer’s offer, whatever that might be. Hoyer, however, should be aware that the Giants pose the biggest threat to any player on his wishlist. If Boras wants to stick it up Hoyer’s behind he’d advise his clients to choose San Francisco. That’d be a jarring start to CubsCon ’24, but at least I’d have something worth writing about.

“Failure is a state of mind. It’s like one of those sand traps an ant lion digs. You keep sliding back. Takes one hell of a jump to get out of it.” – Steinbeck

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Where would your fandom be if the Cubs signed Trevor Bauer? I’m not suggesting they do and I know I’m reaching for discussable content so give me a break.


Central Intelligence

Friday Stove

The Giants have traded outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani to the Mariners for former Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray. San Francisco could make a move for Bellinger now. Ray is coming off Tommy John surgery and won’t pitch until the second half.

Blake Snell has privately expressed interest in joining the Yankees. Two weeks ago it was the Mariners. It’s probably safer to say he’s trying to create his own bidding war.

Bauer understands he “did a lot of damage” but would still love a second shot with any MLB team.

He hasn’t lost any of his confidence, however, and claims he’s “one of the best pitchers in the world.”

The Rangers and Yankees appear to be the favorites to sign Jordan Montgomery, but the Cardinals and Cubs are still in the mix.

The Yankees are reportedly not interested in Shōta Imanaga, and the Dodgers and Rangers are the frontrunners to sign Josh Hader.

Believe it or not, several very good starters and relievers are still available.

Free agent starter Sean Manaea could be a vital part of any contending team’s rotation.

The Mets signed outfielder Harrison Bader to a one-year contract worth $10.5 million.

The Metropolitans have also indicated that they are willing to trade catcher Omar Narvaez.

Outfielder Michael Brantley officially announced his retirement after 15 MLB seasons.

The league announced that this year’s trade deadline will be July 30th at 6 PM ET.

Apropos of Nothing

I’m currently bingeing the entire American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies, and I regret that I waited this long to watch “The Last Picture Show” and “Bonnie & Clyde.” Ben Johnson was a revelation in the Bogdanovich flick, and I didn’t realize Warren Beatty could actually act.

Extra Innings

Imanaga will only be a Cub if he and his agent meet Hoyer’s offer, which is probably less than the $100 million they are seeking.

They Said It

  • “Cody’s always been my comeback player of the year. But come back to what? This isn’t coming back to earth. It’s coming back to the clouds. Cody has a ceiling that most players don’t have. No doubt.” – Boras
  • “There’s no prediction of the future in anything. I really just enjoyed my time with this group of guys, with this coaching staff. Playing for the Cubs organization and Wrigley Field was really special.” – Bellinger
  • “Winning the offseason is probably more curse than blessing.” – Hoyer
  • “I don’t think that we want to start calling seasons we don’t make the playoffs good seasons. That’s a consolation prize, and we don’t play for consolation prizes.” – Ricketts

Friday Walk-Up Song

The Cubs remain interested in most of the top remaining free agents according to several sources. Sure they are.

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