The Rundown: Maddon Preaches Enthusiasm, Darvish Has Strong Twitter Game, Evan’s Budding Friendship With Rock Duo Nelson

Some player movement and a few rumors that potentially have legs greet us this morning. I almost forgot how to mentally process this type of activity. But I have actual news to report, and though it’s nothing truly significant, it’s something. In chronological order:

  • Gerrit Cole was traded to the Astros, but he really wasn’t
  • Jay Bruce signed a three-year deal with the Mets
  • Yu Darvish has narrowed his list of potential suitors down to five six teams
  • Jake Arrieta has at least six “overpay” offers.

Cole

The Astros and Pirates were close on a Gerrit Cole trade yesterday. Possibly. No one really knows.

John Morosi and Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday morning that a trade between the two teams was nearly complete. Of course, Twitter blew up as news minions across the globe searched for details and confirmation. Almost immediately, reports were softened and language was changed from “close” to “imminent” — though I am not sure how much softer that really is — and a few minutes later, “imminent” was changed to “momentum between the two teams.”

Then Astros GM Jeff Lunhow put the kibosh on the whole speculative pile of manure when he told the Houston Chronicle that he’s “talked to several teams about possible trades,” adding, “at this point, nothing is imminent.”

Houston’s interest in Cole was first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Monday, but a rival executive had told the Daily News at the time it seemed “inevitable” that he’d become a Yankee. At any rate, Cole is still a Pirate. For what its worth, Cole’s wife Amy took the news and subsequent non-news as well as any baseball wife could. Rosenthal manned up and issued an apology.

Bruce

Jay Bruce, Meet the Mets (again)!

After the mixup regarding Cole, Bruce thought he’d do all of us starving for some tangible baseball news a solid, so he signed with the Metroplitans of Flushing, NY. The backloaded contract is worth $39 million over — all together now — three years. The years and dollar amounts lined up exactly with what MLBTR predicted. The deal calls for Bruce to make $10 million this year and $13 million the next two seasons, and also includes a signing bonus of $3 million paid in equal $1.5 million sums over the last two years of the deal.

Bruce, who will be 31 in April, had gone into his first free agency looking for a five-year deal worth over $50 million according to some sources. With spring training a little over a month away, the Mets were able to negotiate a more team-friendly deal. The slugger previously played for the Mets in 2017, slashing .256/.321/.520 with 29 taters and 75 RBI.

Darvish

I want Darvish to sign with the Cubs as much for his pitching abilities as I do for his strong social media game. A good chance remains that that may happen.

Jeff Wilson of the the Dallas Star-Telegram reported Wednesday that Darvish had narrowed his list of teams that he is wiling to sign with to the Astros, Cubs, Rangers, Twins, and Yankees, henceforth known as “The Usual Suspects.” The playful right-hander did not deny the report but he added a little twist with a kicker via his Twitter account, becoming the first player to actually concede a mystery team truly exists:

Conspiracy theorists immediately intimated that the Darvish announcement is what foiled the previously mentioned Cole trade, and that the Dodgers may be the mystery team.

I can only imagine the fun Cubs fans would have engaging Darvish on social media. Maybe the Cubs front office will old-school it and announce his signing Friday as CubsCon kicks off. That would be so apropos. Someone should check today’s O’hare flight manifests.

Arrieta

Jake who, am I right? Just kidding, but it is amazing how the former NL Cy Young winner has become somewhat of a hometown afterthought when potential rotation moves are discussed. Then again, reported offers and demands have been all over the place, ranging from a 3/$90M deal as suggested by Ken Rosenthal to the 4/$110M deal the Cubs allegedly offered. And, given that he’s a Scott Boras client, Arrieta’s use of Max Scherzer’s seven-year, $210 million deal as a point of comparison, at least as of last March, is no surprise.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times, a source close to Arrieta said he has offers from six teams, including the Cubs, for three- and four-year contracts at “overpay” annual values. The Brewers and Cardinals are said to be among those teams. I believe Boras is perfectly capable of getting his headlining client the six-year deal he seeks, and though I am not sure who leaked this information, I’d be willing to bet there was at least some intent to leverage a longer-term offer, perhaps by the Nationals.

Cubs News & Notes

Energy and enthusiasm will be this year’s core theme according to manager Joe Maddon. The Cubs manager spoke with Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald at a Catholic Charities event and added “Listen, we’ve been there (to the postseason) three years in a row, right? OK, we’re pretty good. We’ve got good guys coming back. We just acquired some good guys; If you show up with energy and enthusiasm every day, they’re going to do their to work, they’re going to do the data, they’re going to do the video, they’re going to do the physical work.

“What else could you possibly ask for them to do? But if you show up with the right mental attitude every day, that’s when all that stuff really kicks in. So if I’m going to make an emphasis on anything, it’s that.”

The Marlins are hosting the Cubs in this year’s opener on March 29, the earliest start in the sport’s history, excluding international openers. The game is scheduled to start at 11:40 am Chicago time.

Former Cubs RP James Russell signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.

Kerry Wood will be surprised if he gets even one Hall of Fame vote.

If you can’t make the Cubs Convention tomorrow night, David Kaplan will be broadcasting live from the event. For those who will also miss the annual Friday Night Live with Ryan Dempster, you can catch his schtick on Facebook Live at 7:30pm CST.

Wednesday Stove

This is a creepy story that has been denied by the perpetrator, but without getting too much into detail, Jason Wood of CSE Talent Agency has been fired after he was allegedly discovered using hidden cameras to film players he represents while they took showers in his home. This is a bothersome story that I prefer not to link to, but it warrants inclusion in this space as news. If you have further interest, a simple Google search is all you need.

Starlin Castro has reportedly let the Marlins know that he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild and would like to be traded to a contender.

When the Yankees resigned C.C. Sabathia last week it was as much about leadership as it was talent.

The Diamondbacks avoided arbitration by Randall Delgado by agreeing to a one-year $2.25M contract with their pitcher.

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto called the offseason bullpen signings by the Rockies “brilliant.”

Bleacher Report looks at the 27-and-under building blocks of all 30 teams.

Thursday Walk Up Song

(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection by Nelson. Matthew and Gunner liked a tweet by Evan yesterday. It’s kismet.

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Michael Canter

Favorite Quote: "Look Ma! Top of the World!" Cubs fan since I was five years old (1969): lover of B&W movies, the Oxford Comma, classic rock, and of course, baseball; annual roto-champ; partial insomniac; I detest the liberal use of the word 'albeit' by baseball writers; Nice guy, though somewhat brooding. Comment me, please and thank you.

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