The Rundown: Shopping Free Agent Bargain Bin, Corey Kluber Potentially on Block, Patrick Corbin Free Agent Profile

It’s day three of my free agent profiles and there really hasn’t been a fit yet for the Cubs. Yes, I’d love to see Theo Epstein introducing Bryce Harper at a mid-winter presser, but that’s just because Harper seems like he would be fun to root for. I just can’t convince myself the team really needs him.

If the Cubs are indeed going to be looking for the low-hanging fruit this off season I have a suggestion or three:

  1. Kelvin Herrera
  2. Marwin Gonzalez
  3. Bud Norris

In record-collecting parlance these types of signings would be considered bargain bin dollar pulls.

And what if the Cubs could get Cory Kluber? The Indians could be looking to trade their ace to reduce payroll and I’d bet a package that included Ian Happ and Mike Montgomery would be something they’d at least consider. How would a rotation of Kluber-Lester-Hamels-Hendricks-Darvish look? I still believe a dominant rotation is the best path to a championship and that’s just about as dominant as it gets, especially if Yu Darvish is over his arm issues.

I understand the fascination with “openers” and bullpenning, but it’s just not sustainable. I’ll gladly debate Brian Kenny, too. The rate of attrition is already high for relief pitchers, and now their salaries are starting to reach upper-tier levels. Do you really want to take guys you are now paying tens of millions of dollars per year and throw them 100+ innings per season when they are used to 60-65 innings?

It seems baseball is just throwing caution the wind when it comes to “the year after effect” if front offices are leaning toward limiting starters to five innings or less or using openers as a season-long strategy. Hard pass. Look what happened to Dylan Bundy this season.

Free Agent Profile: Patrick Corbin

Corbin is impressive. Consider his FIP (2.47), strikeout rate (11.07) and walk rate (2.16) and you can see why he will be the most sought after starter on the market. Plus, he is still trending upward. The Yankees are rumored to be all over the 29-year-old southpaw.

Corbin’s velocity dropped sightly in May, and that’s something to be cognizant of, but it didn’t seem to affect his performance in the second half. He ramped his slider usage up past 40 percent this year to great success. Despite Brian Cashman’s admiration, the White Sox could be serious players for the former Diamondback and the Brewers still need a staring pitcher. The marriage of Corbin and the Yankees seems inevitable however. Don’t sleep on the Braves though.

Handicapping Corbin:

  1. Yankees
  2. Brewers
  3. White Sox
  4. Braves

Cubs News & Notes

Wednesday Stove

The Giants have hired Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi as their new president of baseball operations, the club announced yesterday. That should amp up the teams’ storied rivalry.

Free agent outfielder Michael Brantley is not expected to re-sign with the Indians.

The Yankees and CC Sabathia agreed on a one-year deal yesterday. Sabathia will earn $8 million in 2019.

The Yankees could sign Harper to be their first baseman. That’s a stretch, at this point of his career anyway.

Machado’s lack of hustle was never really a secret to front offices across baseball. Or fans, actually.

Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard aren’t on the trading block yet, but new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen isn’t against the idea of moving either starter.

The Nationals have been very aggressive in their attempts to re-sign Harper.

The Blue Jays could be looking to run interference on a return to the Yankees for starter JA Happ.

The Astros, White Sox, and Rays have strong interest in Nelson Cruz.

The Phillies want to fortify their rotation but may look to the trade market instead of free agency.

The Mariners could potentially go scorched-earth rebuild. Theo Epstein must be licking his chops and likely has Jerry DiPito on speed dial this week.

Rick Renteria has agreed to a contract extension to remain as manager of the White Sox.

Extra Innings

Sports Illustrated’s The Story of Baseball in 100 Photographs explores baseball’s cultural heritage and its path to becoming the country’s national pastime through evocative, extraordinary photos, from the days of Babe Ruth to the thrilling championships of today.

Makes a great Christmas gift, too (Hint, Hint).

They Said It

“We have a group of young players that has won more games over the last four years [387] than any team. Collectively we did not take another step forward in 2018 and perhaps we took a step back. But as a group, I would still bet on these guys.” -Jed Hoyer

“[Maddon] is very comfortable. There’s a tremendous amount of trust between Joe and Theo. There are a lot of issues that need to be solved going forward. Things will work out. … Joe would be very happy waiting until the end of the season, and if the stars line up they line up. If they don’t … Joe and Theo have the ultimate trust in each other.” – Alan Nero

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Come & Get Your Love by Redbone. From the classic TV concert series The Midnight Special. Harper would make a great Star Lord.

Tags

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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3 Comments

  1. Injuns would want more than Monty and Happ for Klubot. Maybe Russell as well, so the Injuns could keep Ramirez at 3b and not move him again like they did in 2018, which lead to his slumping hugely the last 6 weeks of the season after they got Donaldson. One other thing, Kluber has struggled in the playoffs the last 2 yrs, especially with the gopher balls.

  2. Deal-happy-Dipoto (Mariners) is already dealing, Theo better grab a drink with him today on Segura.

    I don’t see a trade for a front line starter, unless they have already dealt one away. Like Chatwood, for instance. (Dream big dreams, I say)

    What they really don’t need, is the mega contract that would come with Harper. They have to re-sign Rizzo after ’19, then Baez and Bryant a couple years later, and perhaps Contreras depending on how things go. Lester is done after 2021 as well, and while you could look at that $ coming off the books – they will have to replace it one way or another. That’s a ton of mullah there, and short term not much comes off the books other than Zobrist’s approximate $14 mil AAV after ’19. That being said, I’d be excited if they DID sign Harper. Hey, it’s not MY money.

    Really don’t want Bud Norris. Just too much clubhouse/bullpen cancer scuttle on him.

    CC Sabathia says he is hanging up the cleats after ’19. Wishing him a good, healthy last season.

    Suggestion on 670 The Score last night that Cubs management is doing things to make Maddon not WANT to be here anymore. No contract renewal, assistant coaches fired left and right, new coaches dictated to Maddon, etc. No, I’m not saying that I subscribe to this line of thinking. It is interesting, however.

    I think the White Sox could make a big splash this off season, and could be a surprise contender for Harper or Machado, with Machado more likely. A Machado signing puts butts in seats for them, and that fan base would likely embrace his dirty antics. They wouldn’t like his lack of hustle at all though.

  3. Cantar/Vegas – ever listen to The Twilight Singers? I wouldn’t call them a “great” band, but have some sneaky great jams:

    The Twilight Singers; Please Stay (Once You Go Away) 4:04

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