The Rundown: Excitement Surrounding Harper Grows, Plenty of Rumors but Little Action, Owners and MLBPA Could Be Setting Up for Future Clash
I have no idea where this column is going to go today so just hang on and enjoy the ride. All I know is that everything points to Bryce Harper signing with the Cubs. Or maybe it doesn’t. I have never been this thrilled about not knowing anything. Following the Cubs for the past 48 hours has been like riding a roller coaster while blindfolded.
Mark DeRosa is baseball’s equivalent of Hanson still touring on the strength of MMMBop. Now I am a friend of Isaac Hanson and I have mad respect for both Isaac and DeRo. But sometimes you have to ask a friend to pump the brakes on the schtick. Too often, middle-aged hipster cool comes across as “Gee, that guy is such a try-hard.” I cringe when Isaac tells me Hanson is “going out on tour” in the same way I cringe when DeRosa busts out like he’s the second coming of Bill Swerski.
I present exhibit A:
.@MarkDeRo7 is shipping out Kyle Schwarber and bringing in… Bryce Harper.@Cubs fans, what do you think of this #WinterMeetings #DeRoDemo? #MLBTonight ??️? pic.twitter.com/keWggdp009
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 11, 2018
Now, I get the premise of the #DeRoDemo. He’s an idea man and he is going to get completely Billy Blaze-nuts and hypothetically overhaul an entire team with three or four unlikely — but not impossible — moves. Here’s what he’d do with the Cubs, were he in charge:
- Trade Kyle Schwarber to the Astros for minor league pitching;
- Trade Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., and a “coupla prospects” for J.T. Realmuto; and
- Sign Harper
Now this is far more entertaining than any of the other Cubs news I heard through most of Monday, which was basically the offseason ’18 company line:
GM Jed Hoyer again stresses that the Cubs are focusing more on internal improvements than external solutions: "I’ve never said this before, but I’ve never wanted a season to start quicker. I just feel like the way that the season ended, it left such a bitter taste in our mouths."
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) December 11, 2018
Let’s circle back to DeRosa. First, and this goes for everybody tuning in, talk like an adult, please and thank you.
Now let’s get into the proposal, starting with the Schwarber move. Which minor league pitchers are we talking about? Forrest Whitley? Yes, I’m in. Who else? J.B. Bukauskas? Done. Look, prospects are no guarantee but there’s your future number one and two starters as soon as 2020. Whitley could be better than Walker Buehler.
I’m having a little difficulty with the acquisition of Realmuto. I can understand giving up Contreras, but that’s it, and the Cubs should probably get a sweetener in return. Adding Almora, plus a couple of prospects is a huge overpay, DeRo. I understand that’s what Miami wants, but why would you give in to Derek Jeter when no one else will? Their disgruntled catcher will be sporting those new Marlin unis on Opening Day if they don’t come back to this planet with those trade demands.
Finally, signing Harper, at, I’m guessing, whatever Scott Boras tells the Cubs to pay. And now your starting outfield is Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Harper, left to right. You still need a closer and second baseman, but those are minor details.
Understand, I have no problem with the aggressive courage DeRosa exhibits, though the presentation makes it hard to listen to with a straight face. Could you even imagine what this guy would be like as the Cubs manager? And don’t think he wasn’t stumping for the job.
“I’m gonna find out what I truly got in this kid who hit seven bombs in spring training, then hit the first home run of the season, and wasn’t in the lineup for the second game. I think a lot of guys [on that team] don’t know when they’re gonna be in the lineup.”
Cubs News & Notes
- Wait. What? Tom Ricketts has allegedly approved a big expenditure for Harper? Only the Cubs know for sure, and if so, they’re 600 feet below sea level on the matter.
- That nuclear blast of Hot Stove excitement sort of adds some odd surrealism to possibly trading Ben Zobrist to pinch a few pennies this year. I seriously don’t know if Ricketts is pre- or post-ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future Ebenezer Scrooge this winter. But I’m giddy not knowing.
- Besides, the Nationals and Yankees have said they are not likely going to sign the all-star outfielder, and with the Cardinals not likely to pursue Harper, his choices suddenly narrow to the Dodgers, Phillies, and Cubs. And maybe the White Sox.
- Jed Hoyer would like the Cubs to find another David Ross, as he feels the team sorely lacks veteran leadership. Leave it to Hoyer to really pump up the fan base with potential player movement news.
- Hoyer met with media members for 30 minutes last night, and he talked about more than just missing Grandpa Rossy.
- It’s been 68 days since the 2018 season came to a close and the Cubs have yet to make an impactful addition to the roster. Getting antsy?
- Jurickson Profar has been linked to the Cubs in a rumor or two.
- The NL Central is the only division in baseball seemingly without a tanking team as it heads into 2019.
- Maybe this guy is trying to help finance the Cubs acquisition of Harper this winter?
- I hope it wasn’t DeRosa that was talking to Julie DiCaro.
I'll jump into the mix here to say that ahead of Saturday's show, I was told by a person in a position to know that the #Cubs are *more* in on Harper than we've been led to believe.
Whether that means due diligence or something more, I don't know.
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) December 10, 2018
The Yankees, Mets, and Marlins are said to be engaged on a potential deal that could involve Noah Syndergaard and Realmuto. So that’s Realmuto to the Mets, Syndergaard to the Yankees, a handful of magic beans to the Marlins, and Harper to the Cubs in the fallout. In other words, no chance Miami wins this trade.
Scott Boras was not happy when he saw the comments Washington Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner made about Harper on Friday. Now Boras is fighting to defend Harper’s market against rumors that it might not be nearly as strong as expected, especially with the Phillies expected to be more focused on Manny Machado.
The legend of Nathan Eovaldi, as told by Red Sox manager Alex Cora, continues to grow.
It doesn’t seem as if the Red Sox will be re-signing Craig Kimbrel, as club president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters that “we’re not looking to make a big expenditure [at the closer position].”
Giants GM Farhan Zaidi said he expects to add at least two more outfielders to the mix before spring training.
In case you forgot, the Orioles still don’t have a manager. Mike Redmond is the latest to interview.
The Phillies are reportedly having ongoing discussions with J.A. Happ.
I don’t think you can have it both ways. First, the Phillies said they were going to be big spenders, and might even get stupid about it. Yesterday, their front office said they “won’t be held hostage” by anybody. That’s why Patrick Corbin will be pitching for the Nationals, I’m guessing.
The Brewers are interested in former Cubs second baseman Daniel Murphy. According to Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions, Murphy, 33, ranks last in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) since 2016 with -45.
The A’s have expressed interest in free agent DJ LeMahieu, a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner with the Rockies.
The Royals and Billy Hamilton have reached an agreement on a one-year deal.
The Twins may give Fernando Romero a shot at closing for the team next season.
ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecasts will start an hour earlier in 2019.
If I could afford to buy you all a subscription to The Athletic for Christmas I would, but if you already have the ability to access their content, this article by Jason Stark regarding the current state of free agency is absolutely fascinating. I’ll bullet-point it for you:
- The free-agent winter of 2018 (and soon to be 2019) doesn’t feel dramatically different than last winter. And that, says MLBPA union chief Tony Clark, is “concerning.”
- Collusion does not exist. “It’s sophisticated, collective behavior,” said one longtime agent. “And it’s impossible to detect and prove.”
- Despite the potentially record-setting deals that could be out there for Harper and Machado, the same agent predicted that for most free agents, this offseason might actually be worse than last year’s, when dozens of players remained unsigned even into February.
- According to agent Seth Levinson, “The evolution of the game has created serious fundamental issues that must be addressed for the parties to co-exist and thrive.”
It looks like the Doomsday Clock for a league-union impasse and potential work stoppage in 2021 now sits at about a minute south of midnight.
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Black Coffee in Bed by Squeeze. I’m a huge fan of the band Squeeze, whom I never would have discovered were it not for MTV. This is number 14 on my list of 20 favorite music videos.