The Rundown: Winter of Discontent Thaws with Start of Spring Training, Cubs Get Strong Projection from USA Today, Go Red for Women Today

The storylines have been repetitive, boring, and not worth the effort to write about, but that all changes today. Camp is officially open and baseball finally returns for Cubs fans. Though Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery remain in free-agent limbo, 30 teams are moving forward while the Boras Four sit on the sidelines.

I feel no need to sugarcoat things: As a blogger, this offseason has sucked. Everyone loved Chicago’s lone splashy move, signing Shōta Imanaga, but free agent signings have been few and far between across the league and speculation concerning the trade market never materialized. I’d love to point the finger at Scott Boras, and he shoulders partial blame, but MLB front offices have also refused to budge. The open market has been stunted by the law of supply and demand, which has put the brakes on trade talks to some extent as well.

Yet, the usual suspects remain in place. The Cubs have been linked to Bellinger and Chapman, the Yankees to Snell, and nobody is sure where Montgomery, who is the only one of the four not attached to a qualifying offer, will land. The Yanks’ throw to Snell was believed to be around $150 million for five years, and word is he and Boras, who are seeking a reported $270 million, didn’t even bother to counter. The other three have yet to receive any formal offers according to several reports.

That said, hope springs eternal and smiling faces are making their way to the Cubs’ Arizona facilities. Jed Hoyer, Carter Hawkins, and new manager Craig Counsell will kick off the preseason workouts with a roster that is transitioning to a more youthful foundation. Chicago’s core consists of Dansby Swanson, Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, Kyle Hendricks, Jameson Taillon, and Justin Steele. The more interesting names are Pete Crow-Armstrong, Matt Shaw, Michael Busch, Christopher Morel, Jordan Wicks, Ben Brown, and Cade Horton. Other players to keep an eye on include Alexander Canario, Daniel Palencia, Miguel Amaya, and Matt Mervis.

The Cubs are reportedly interested in free agents Brandon Woodruff and Liam Hendriks in addition to Bellinger and Chapman. I’d bet that three of the four will end up with the Cubs, and landing all four is still possible. That would add some spice to what has been the dullest market in over a decade. Additionally, I expect an active trade market through March, and the Cubs still may land Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, if they sign one of Bellinger or Chapman.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

What are the chances that this is a reaction to a question about Bellinger? Counsell looks like he pulled an all-nighter.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

I’ll take a way-too-early stab at the Cubs’ Opening Day Lineup, based on players currently rostered.

  1. Crow-Armstrong CF
  2. Hoerner 2B
  3. Happ LF
  4. Suzuki RF
  5. Swanson SS
  6. Morel DH
  7. Busch 1B
  8. Gomes C
  9. Nick Madrigal 3B
  10. Steele SP
  11. Alzolay CL

If the Cubs sign Bellinger, I’d move him to fourth in the order with Suzuki dropping to No. 6, which I believe is his ideal spot. Should the Cubs sign Chapman, he’d hit after Morel, putting Madrigal on the bench. For what it’s worth, I’ve heard Counsell likes Madrigal a great deal.

Spring Training News & Notes

The Giants have agreed to a three-year, $42 million deal with free agent designated hitter/outfielder Jorge Soler.

Many MLB players don’t particularly like the 2024 edition of Nike’s uniforms, with one player saying “They look cheap.”

The Pirates and veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal are in agreement on a one-year contract.

Astros veteran Justin Verlander is dealing with a shoulder issue that will delay his start to spring training.

Go Red for Women Day

I hope you’re wearing red today in support of women and the fight to end cardiovascular disease. Nearly 45% of women aged 20+ are living with some form of CVD.

Jenny Cavnar is the new play-by-play announcer for the Oakland A’s. She is the first female primary play-by-play voice in Major League Baseball history.

Cavnar is replacing longtime announcer Glen Kuiper, who was fired after he used a racist slur on live TV last year.

Jen Pawol will work Grapefruit League games this spring and is very close to becoming MLB’s first full-time female umpire.

Extra Innings 

Who will be Chicago’s next Jake Arrieta? Will we ever see that kind of dominance again from Cubs’ starters?

Can of Corn

I’m going back to a daily now that we are steaming toward Cactus League play. I realize that’s welcome news for some of you and a cringeworthy note for others. It will be nice to write about something other than the Boras clients.

They Said It

  • “I’m definitely giving [Cody] his space. I just hope that his process is what he wants and he gets what he deserves. He’s been everything you could ask for from a teammate. When you talk about showing up early, from New Year’s on [last year], he was just so consistent with his work. It was just really satisfying to see a good person earn such a great spot for themselves. Obviously, we would love to have him here. That would be amazing.” – Nico Hoerner
  • “To be honest, last week, I was spending like three days just watching [Imanaga’s] highlights from his games in Japan and I really love how fired up he gets after a big out or coming out after throwing six or seven innings.” – Alzolay

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

Let’s celebrate the Pearl Jam announcement and the start of Spring Training with the band’s energetic new single. Their new album drops on April 19.

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