The Rundown: Kimbrel and Keuchel Still Seeking Deals, Cubs Bullpen Dinged Up, MLB Rules Changes, Labor Negotiations Set to Begin

We’ve reached the point of the spring where all the camp stories are pretty played out and everyone is just waiting for the season to start. Unless, of course, you are Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel. I’d bet each wishes he had a time machine. I’m sure Keuchel would love to go back to the day that he turned down an extension offer of $90 million from the Astros. As for Kimbrel, he’d probably like to go back the the day he declared he was a $100 million closer.

So they sit on the sidelines hoping spring training will slow down a little while the rest of us hope it will speed up. And stop trying to connect Kimbrel to the Cubs. Even if they had the money or the wherewithal to sign him, I don’t think the compensatory draft pick tied to the once-elite closer makes it worth the investment. Facts being facts, Kimbrel is probably worth far more on a one-year deal after the June draft when that loss of draft pick disappears and his salary is pro-rated.

MLB changed a number of its rules yesterday, in case you haven’t heard the news just yet. To summarize:

  • Implementing a single trade deadline of July 31. No waiver deals after that. You can laugh if you’re a younger fan, but at one time the MLB trade deadline was June 15. That changed after the 1986 season.
  • There is going to be an election day for the All-Star Game. That means the top three vote-getters will select the rest of their squads in a player draft.
  • To help attract the game’s biggest stars, there will be $2.5 million in total bonus money for the Home Run Derby, with $1 million of that going to the winner. I wonder who will be in charge of making sure there is no impropriety. I don’t want to embed the video, but here’s the final round in last year’s event, pitting Kyle Schwarber against Bryce Harper.
  • A three-batter minimum for pitchers, which will essentially end the careers for many LOOGYs, set for 2020.
  • Roster expansion to 26 players, which also will not take place until next season.
  • The most important part of the agreement is the provision that MLB and the MLBPA will begin discussing labor issues immediately, far earlier than expected. The current CBA doesn’t expire until December 2021.

There was nothing regarding a pitch clock, nor was there any mention of a universal DH, which is really the only rule they should have changed. Maybe next year.

Cubs News & Notes

Spring Training News & Notes

Sports Illustrated takes a look at some of baseball’s more significant and historic rules changes.

Add the Yankees to the growing number of teams who may employ an “opener” strategy rather than sign a mediocre starter to replace an injured pitcher.

Reggie Jackson believes Harper is baseball’s savior. Not sure a $10 billion industry needs a savior, but okay. The $330 million outfielder proved Jackson right by going 0-for-2 against the Yankees yesterday.

Nathan Eovaldi said the Astros had absolutely no interest in signing him as a free agent this winter.

Ever wonder what the Red Sox saw in David “Big Papi” Ortiz before they signed him in 1997? Based on the team’s scouting report, it’s no wonder the Twins cut him.

Twins starter Jose Berrios said he turned down an extension offer so that he could wait on “a big payday.” That’s a bold strategy these days.

The Cardinals offense has stagnated recently.

If you are interested in Fantasy baseball, the CBS game analyzer played through 10,000 full-season scenarios to give you this year’s sleepers.

Extra Innings

As player union reps begin discussions with owners to work on a new agreement ahead of the 2021 season, players should be fully aware that the baseball wants to end the era of mind-blowing financial deals with its players. Since the start of free agency, baseball has awarded players more for seniority and past performance than they have for future potential.

Players are less-than-generously paid as they work their way up through the ranks, those young guys have been the game’s best players in recent years. That’s how you build a $10 billion industry. If the MLBPA goes into negotiations with the intent to protect its aging veterans, they’ve already lost the war.

Thursday Walk Up Song

Fisherman’s Blues by The Water Boys. That’s some kicking and screaming slide guitar there.

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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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