The Rundown: Hoyer Has Options Aplenty After Big Trade, CubsCon Kicks Off Tonight, Giants Add Hicks to Rotation

I’m happy to see that Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins did the Dodgers a solid by taking all-hit, no-glove Michael Busch off their hands. Los Angeles was dealing with a massive numbers crunch, so ol’ Jed took two 40-man players from the NL West behemoth in exchange for two non-rostered minor leaguers. Sadly, one of the players going to LA is my dude Jackson Ferris.

I’m already having pre-PTSD nightmares that Ferris will be flipped to the White Sox for Dylan Cease but as Cubs fans, we’ve got bigger fish to fry (Marlin, maybe?) on this fan convention weekend.

  1. What happens to Christopher Morel and Matt Mervis? Morel has immense trade value and could be packing his bags for a new destination as I write this. Mervis, on the other hand, has little trade value because David Ross treated him like a red-headed stepchild last summer.
  2. Could the Cubs flip Busch, who seems to be a left-handed version of Morel, for a premium starting pitcher, possibly Cease? That’s doubtful unless Hoyer signs Cody Bellinger. Busch is a cheaper facsimile of Bellinger minus the speed and Gold Glove. That is to say, he provides left-handed power and might be able to play first base while saving Hoyer about $25-30 million in AAV. By all accounts, Busch is targeted to start at first on Opening Day, unless he’s traded.
  3. Pete Crow-Armstrong is probably feeling a lot better after the trade. It now seems unlikely (to me) that Bellinger will return, meaning PCA is Chicago’s alpha dog in center field and at leadoff.
  4. The Cubs still need power, however, so I am somewhat incorrect in assuming that Hoyer is no longer interested in Bellinger or Rhys Hoskins.
  5. Hoyer and Hawkins must believe the second-half surge by Seiya Suzuki is for real. Punting on Bellinger would mean losing the team’s top run-producer from the 2023 squad.
  6. If Morel is traded, that probably means one of two things: The Cubs will go with a combination of Nick Madrigal and Patrick Wisdom at third base or they’ll sign Matt Chapman.
  7. The Mariners are looking for a second baseman and have starting pitching to spare, including Logan Gilbert. They’ve had previous interest in Morel. Keep an eye on that.
  8. Trading Ferris, who has a top-of-rotation profile, indicates that the front office has a great deal of confidence in Cade Horton, Jordan Wicks, and Ben Brown.
  9. If Busch is going to be the first baseman of the future, what happens to Owen Caissie? I’d say his future lies in replacing Ian Happ once his contract expires.
  10. I’m not a fan of Yency Almonte. His slider is a potential out pitch but he gave up a lot of hard contact last year and has always had issues with left-handed batters.
  11. Hoyer hasn’t done much of anything to improve his bullpen and I doubt he’ll sign Josh Hader, though I did speak to someone last night who said it’s not as far-fetched as I believe.
  12. I’ve also heard that Morel and Jesús Luzardo could be centerpieces for a Cubs-Marlins trade. I’m intrigued to see how that might play out. I wouldn’t mind seeing A.J. Puk added to Chicago’s bullpen.
  13. The Busch trade is the type of deal we should expect going forward. Hoyer has worked meticulously to build prospect redundancy so he can avoid shopping in the deep end of the free agent pool. He now has options available to annually slide Chicago’s competitive window north or south as he sees fit. The president of baseball operations has wanted to copy what they’re doing down in Tampa Bay and it appears he’s done just that. At least he’s not trading guys like Justin Steele and Adbert Alzolay just because they’ve become arbitration-eligible. That’s an almost certain guarantee within the Rays organization.

If you’re attending CubsCon tonight, have fun. The weather and massive post-Christmas credit card debt have stranded me in Milwaukee.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

I can’t get this Simpson’s vignette out of my head after reading this tweet by Cody Delmendo of CHGO.

Central Intelligence

  • Milwaukee: The Red Sox have reportedly reached out to the Brewers in an attempt to trade for Corbin Burnes.
  • Cincinnati: Brent Suter, who attended Moeller HS in Cincinnati, has agreed to a one-year contract with a club option to pitch for the hometown Reds.
  • Pittsburgh: A bill has been put forth calling for a commemorative coin program in 2027 that would honor Roberto Clemente. H.R. 6751 was introduced by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. The proposed legislation seeks the production and sale by the United States Mint, in Proof and Uncirculated versions, of up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 silver dollars, and 750,000 copper-nickel clad half dollars.
  • St. Louis: The Cardinals may have to halt any new payroll additions due to financial uncertainties caused by their current TV deal with Bally Sports. They’re still pursuing Cease, in case you’re wondering.

Climbing the Ladder

The Cubs have acquired the following ex-Dodgers since Hoyer took over for Theo Epstein and all have been rentals. That hardly means Busch is a short-term acquisition but it is food for thought.

Friday Stove

The Giants have agreed to a four-year $44 million contract with Jordan Hicks according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. Passan adds that the Giants plan to use Hicks as a starter rather than a reliever.

Marcus Stroman will pitch for the Yankees now that he and the team have agreed on a two-year deal worth $37 million.

Juan Soto set an arbitration record by agreeing to a $31.5 million deal with the Yankees.

Believe it or not, five of the top 10 free agents are still unsigned.

Extra Innings

I’m here for more than just the beer.

Apropos of Nothing

I’m going to post this video of gargantuan Kenny G every time Busch hits a tater this summer.

Magic 8-Ball

If the Cubs don’t trade Morel for a starting pitcher, I’m predicting that Hoyer will sign Jordan Montgomery and Robert Stephenson in the next 5-7 days.

Friday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The Bears dismissed offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and his assistants, but retained head coach Matt Eberflus.
  2. Eberflus has several options available to replace Getsy, including Darrell Bevell and Greg Roman, two of the NFL’s hottest candidates.
  3. The windchill for Saturday’s Chiefs-Dolphins game is expected to drop to -24 degrees. If you’re thinking, “No way Miami can handle that,” you’d be correct. The Dolphins have lost 10 straight games when the temp at kickoff is 40 degrees or below. For our Midwest readers, yes, that cold front is heading for us, too.
  4. Hertz is wondering if you’d be down to buy that Tesla you rented. The rental car company said yesterday it’s selling 20,000 electric vehicles from its US EV fleet due to a lack of demand and will use some of the money to buy gas-powered cars. Selling off the vehicles means the company is prepared to lose about $245 million because of depreciation tied to Tesla lowering its new vehicle prices. Caveat emptor:  High-mileage EVs tend to come with semi-exorbitant repair bills.
  5. Ferrara Foods announced the imminent death of Fruit Stripe Gum, but it appears Red Hots, Atomic Fireballs, Bottle Caps, and Runts have been spared a similar fate. Let’s hope they keep Lemondheads, though, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone likes their Boston Baked Beans. I could also live without Spree and Chuckles.
  6. Vitamins from beer? It sounds unorthodox, but Schlitz tried to capitalize on this idea during the 1930s vitamin craze. The beer company encouraged people to drink Schiltz not only for the buzz but also for the vitamins—specifically, Vitamin D. How about a faux-vintage t-shirt to celebrate their efforts?

They Said It

  • “Each team is different and it’s a long process. One time I mentioned, ‘I hope the Cubs offer me.’ I was kind of joking just because at that time the Cubs were out of the picture.” – Imagana
  • “Right now, I think they’re negotiating with all [Bellinger, Chapman, Montgomery, Hoskins, and Hader]. I think that interest that’s out there is real. I would not be surprised if the Cubs end up with three of [those] five.”Eduardo Pérez

Friday Walk-Up Song

Move-per-Day Hoyer will not be silenced today. That’s my prediction. The Cubs never do a big reveal but what if Bellinger shows up in Chicago tonight?

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