The Rundown: Cubs Close Books on 2018, Free Agent Decisions, Brewers and Dodgers Take Game 1

It’s never, ever fun to analyze and disseminate the coroner’s report. But after an autopsy consisting of exit interviews, potential option decisions, second-guessing, and honest self-awareness, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have confirmed and certified the end of the 2018 baseball season at Clark and Addison. They’ll open the books on the 2019 season after some minor housekeeping and once a World Series winner has been crowned.

Then the heavy lifting begins, and just how much lifting is necessary depends on a number of factors. All facets of the organization may be affected. Both the Giants and Mets are looking for new executive leadership and Jason McLeod, the Cubs’ top scouting and player-development executive, has been linked to both. You can add the Orioles to that list too, as Dan Duquette was let go by Baltimore the other day.

And though Epstein said that Joe Maddon will be back to manage the team next season, there have been a few whispers that the Angels may be interested in talking to the him for their position opening. Whether or not the front office would give the Angels permission is another matter, but their answer would certainly be telling.

The Cubs have 387 wins in four seasons under Maddon, who is entering the last year of his contract.

Neither Epstein nor Hoyer talked about specific coaches, but given the offense’s struggles this season both acknowledged, it’s entirely possible that the immediate future of Chili Davis is on less than solid footing.

Then there are the team’s current free agents. In all likelihood, the Cubs will exercise their $20 million option on Cole Hamels, and Jesse Chavez could be re-signed depending on his asking price. The Cubs like both players a great deal and the feeling appears to be mutual. I don’t see a scenario where the team would re-sign Daniel Murphy, but that’s contingent on potential trades, the Addison Russell situation, and whether or not Murphy is looking for a long-term contract.

The Cubs will certainly exercise options on Jose Quintana ($10.25M) and Pedro Strop ($6.25M), and Maddon may stump for the Cubs to re-up with Justin Wilson. Jaime Garcia is a long shot to be back next season, but he may accept a minor league deal and try to make the squad out of spring training. Brandon Kintzler will likely not be back. The Cubs hold a $10 million option on the relief pitcher and there is no reason to exercise that (though he does have a $5M player option).

Finally, the front office will need to make a decision on Russell’s future with the team. The shortstop received a 40-game suspension (retroactive to September 21) in accordance with the league’s domestic violence policy. It’s very possible he has played his last game as a member of the organization.

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs are now “heavy favorites” to land Bryce Harper in free agency.

For the Cubs, just making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore.

Jed Hoyer joined 670 The Score’s Bernstein and McKnight Show Friday afternoon to offer his insights on the season that was and what’s to come for the Cubs.

Brewers Take Game 1 of NLDS

In the playoff opener, most of the offense came from a familiar source – Christian Yelich. Mike Moustakas scored the MVP front-runner with a two-out single in the 10th inning and the Brewers bounced back to beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 Thursday in their NL Division Series opener. Yelich also homered in yesterday’s game.

There’s more than just baseball at stake in the Brewers-Rockies series. Beer is definitely involved, too.

The series between the Rockies and Brewers is a marketing dream come true for the Miller-Coors company.

Dodgers Jump on Braves Early, Take Game 1

Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz gave up four runs and three hits in two innings in Atlanta’s loss to the Dodgers. The right-hander struck out five and walked two. Joc Pederson hit a home run in the bottom of the 1st, clearly rattling the young hurler.

Matt Kemp is nostalgic about his time in Atlanta and the Braves are still fond of him, too.

Extra Innings

Some 259 people worldwide have died while taking selfies, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.

They Said It

  • “After we won in 2016, it was kind of ‘World Series or bust’ attitude. That’s the right attitude to have. You play to be the last team standing; you don’t just play to make the playoffs. We’ve built the culture up here — we are some of the best Chicago Cubs teams they’ve ever fielded, and we take that and we’re pretty proud of that.” – Kris Bryant
  • “Cole was such a breath of fresh air for us. Made an unbelievable impression.” – Theo Epstein
  • “If I’m not wearing this next year [Cubs Jersey] – I’m done.” – Jesse Chavez
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