The Rundown: Ian Happ’s Big Reveal, Cubs Remain (Barely) on Periphery for Bryce Harper, Kyle Hendricks Avoids Arbitration

Ian Happ’s big reveal for Cubs Convention ’19 won’t have anything to do with a player signing or his own contract extension. Instead, it is a wonderful tribute to the team’s fans. Not a bad consolation prize. Check it out.

If you are counting on a Bryce Harper signing to be announced at the annual festival, you shouldn’t hold your breath. I’ve read on Twitter that some feel Theo Epstein absolutely wants to sign Harper but I am not sure I buy into that. Considering cost, length of contract, potential for it to be a bust, and the ramifications on future maneuverability, absolutely feels a bit too strong to me, as it indicates without reservation.

Regardless, as Ken Rosenthal pointed out — and elaborated upon by Evan Altman here — though the Cubs would love a shot at signing the right fielder, approval from Tom Ricketts continues to remain unlikely. So for the 62nd straight day, the Cubs are still a possibility, but that chance remains on life support. And as free agent after free agent signs with other teams, it is easy to to think the Cubs are solely fixated on Harper. That too seems unlikely, as Epstein has never been one to put all of his eggs into one basket.

For whatever reason, the Cubs are simply not spending this winter. I am sure it will be addressed at the convention next week, and if Ricketts or Epstein do not bring it up, I am sure the fans will. Maybe they’ll throw Jed Hoyer to the wolves.

I personally feel there is far too much overreaction to the final two games last year and I do not see the fiscal responsibility of throwing a few hundred million dollars at an inability to score a handful of key runs. Look at it this way: with one more win from Yu Darvish, or a full, healthy season from Kris Bryant, the narrative this winter would be a lot more positive.

It’s not like the Cubs had career years from all of their players just to get to 95 wins, no offense to the Brewers. Only Jon Lester and Javier Baez had exceptional seasons in 2018. So when Epstein says not to doubt his team heading into 2019, you have to at least acknowledge that he knows what he is talking about.

Cubs News & Notes

  • The Addison Russell Pink Slip Fund has raised $1,745 as of this writing. Keep up the good work! Of course the trolls who expect nothing short of a full pardon and exoneration by the organization are out in full force in the comments section of the GoFundMe page. The reasoning skills of some misguided individuals frightens me.
  • Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have settled on a contract valued at $7.405 million dollars, avoiding arbitration, per Jon Heyman. That marks a pay raise of over $3 million for the coming season. The right-hander was projected to earn $7.6 million by MLBTR.
  •  The Cubs still have several players who will need to agree to terms, including Bryant and Baez. Russell and Kyle Schwarber are also among six Cubs players that remain arbitration eligible.
  • The Cubs will officially start spring training when pitchers and catchers report to Arizona on February 12, the team announced yesterday.
  • Cubs catchers ranked near the bottom of the league defensively in 2018.
  • Here’s a novel approach to arbitration hearings: Instead of alienating or insulting Mookie Betts to convince a judge to agree to the team’s stated offer, Boston’s front office instead played a video talking about how good Bryant was. The Red Sox lost the case. Betts is once again eligible this year coming off of an MVP season and Dave Dombrowski should just show up with a signed check meeting the player’s request.
  • Jody Davis has a new gig as manager of the Louisville Bats, the Cincinnati Reds’ AAA affiliate. Another former Cub, Leon Durham, will serve as the team’s hitting coach this year.
  • Game times have been released for the Cubs’ opening series of the 2019 season versus the Rangers in Texas. On Thursday, March 28, the Cubs begin their quest for a 2019 championship at 3:05 PM (Central Time). They get a day off on the 29th, followed by a 7:05 PM start on the 30th and another 3:05 PM start on Sunday, March 31.
  • Who can forget the start of the 2018 season?

Friday Stove

Apparently the key to signing Manny Machado is to add his friends, relatives, and influencers to your organization as an enticement. The White Sox added Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay. Yesterday the Phillies announced that they have hired Bobby Dickerson as their infield coach. Dickerson was recently released by the Orioles and has known Machado since the shortstop was 16 years old, .

Speaking of Machado, the White Sox remain in the hunt.

CC Sabathia doesn’t believe Machado’s comments regarding lack of hustle should be detrimental in the Yankees’ attempt to sign him.

Nolan Arenado is entering the final year of his contract and he’s projected to make at least $25 million in 2019, which would be the most for any player in an arbitration year.

The Mets reached a two-year, $20 million contract agreement on Thursday with Jed Lowrie, an All-Star for the Oakland Athletics who hit .267 with a .353 on-base percentage and a career-high 23 home runs last season.

Reliever David Phelps has agreed to terms with the Toronto Blue Jays. Phelps will earn $2.5 million on a one-year contract, but the deal could be worth $13.75 million over two seasons, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

Former Red Sox and Padres third baseman Will Middlebrooks announced his retirement yesterday.

Athletics blogger “Baseball Jen” was fired yesterday after unleashing a Twitter rant directed at prospect Kyler Murray. Her tweets included middle-finger emojis, name-calling and a declaration that she wouldn’t care if he’s “critically injured” on the football field. Those tweets have since been deleted.

Per Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking at signing second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal noted the San Francisco Giants have shown interest in signing him.

The Braves are showing interest in free agent center fielder A.J. Pollock.

Extra Innings

From the ESPN article by Jeff Passan I quoted above in the blurb about Betts:

“In a mission statement distributed among some players, Jeff Berry, who helps run the baseball division at CAA, outlined a number of steps he believes are necessary to rectify the imbalance of power in the relationship between MLB and the union. It was no surprise that his first target was arbitration. ‘Attacking the arb system,’ Berry wrote in the memo, which was obtained by ESPN’s Buster Olney, ‘is an ideal battleground for MLBPA/players/agents to take a unified stand and to feel empowered and proactive rather than victimized.'”

Friday Walk Up Song

Runaway by Bon Jovi. Reader and commenter Gator13 mentioned early Bon Jovi music the other day so I thought I’d include it here. Have a good weekend everybody.

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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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