The Cubs have yet to name a manager, but the talk in Chicago remains centered on what the roster will look like next season. The focus is really on the front office this winter, and being named as one potentially due to be overhauled after the 2020 season adds a little sriracha to the mix.
A number of NBC Sports Chicago staffers published some offseason predictions yesterday that detail how Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer might construct next year’s roster. Don’t let the phrase “bold predictions” mislead you, as much of the content provides little more than light lifting and fringe moves.
I have failed pretty miserably in the past when making predictions, but in the spirit of the referenced article I thought I’d make a few, slightly bolder, guesses of my own. Proceed with caution and take everything with a grain of salt, remembering that, though anything is possible when it comes to the Cubs, we are being conditioned for another winter of discontent. But fortune favors the bold, or at least it is supposed to anyway.
- Joe Espada will be hired to be the team’s next manager. With that prediction, run to your favorite gambling site and lay your next paycheck on David Ross.
- Anthony Rizzo will sign a contract extension and will be named as the team’s everyday leadoff hitter at the presser announcing his new deal.
- Jason Heyward and Nick Castellanos will be starting outfielders on next year’s team.
- Kyle Schwarber will be too. Unless the Cubs trade him for Starling Marté.
- Yasmani Grandal and Howie Kendrick will sign with the Cubs, giving the team two additional OBP studs to pair with Castellanos. Willson Contreras will be traded for prospects.
- Nico Hoerner will start the season in the minors with Kendrick manning second base until Hoerner is recalled, when Kendrick becomes an all-purpose utility player.
- Your 2020 rotation: Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Odorizzi, Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood, Kendall Graveman (spot starter).
- José Quintana will have his option exercised, then will be traded to the Mets, Astros, or Athletics, where he will have a career year.
- The only coach retained from this season will be Tommy Hottovy.
- Addison Russell, Ian Happ, Daniel Descalso, Albert Almora Jr., and David Bote have played their last games for the North Siders. The Cubs will retain Tony Kemp to be next season’s OBP scapegoat.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 2, 2019
For the first time since 1933, our nation’s capital will host World Series games. The Nationals swept the Cardinals last night in typically dominant fashion, scoring seven runs in the 1st inning and then holding off St. Louis for the 7-4 win. The sweep allows manager Davey Martinez to rest his starters while the Nats wait on the winner of the Yankees-Astros series.
Martinez guided his troops to a National League championship in just his second season at the helm, much like his mentor Joe Maddon did with the Cubs. The Nationals have been baseball’s hottest team since the end of May, when it looked like they were in danger of breaking the team up and possibly firing their skipper.
In the ALCS, the Astros took a 2-1 series lead behind a gutsy pitching effort by Gerrit Cole, who struggled with his command all afternoon. The Yankees had him on the ropes a couple of times but couldn’t come up with the key hits they needed in a 4-1 loss. They’ll play game four tonight at Yankee Stadium, weather permitting.
Neither team has announced a starter for tonight’s game as of press time, but New York may opt to go with Chad Green as an opener while Houston counters with rookie José Urquidy. A postponement would really change the dynamic of the series, however, because it would allow the Yanks to go with ace Masahiro Tanaka in the reset game, while the ‘Stros would most likely counter with Zack Greinke, lining up Justin Verlander and Cole for games 5 and 6 respectively.
Cubs News & Notes
- If the Cubs can sign Castellanos, it may lead to a trade involving Schwarber.
- The front office has the system depth to acquire some of the pieces they need without hurting the farm.
- Don’t discount the possibility that Epstein may select Gabe Kapler as his next manager.
- Mookie Betts or Whit Merrified would look fantastic at the top of the Cubs order next season, but an internal answer such as Rizzo or Hoerner may be the direction the team chooses.
Now that the Cardinals’ season is over, St. Louis will have to make a decision on bat-first outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna’s defensive limitations could cost him in free agency, where one-dimensional sluggers often don’t get the deals they used to, and he may be a better fit for an American League team, where he could play some games at DH.
For the second straight offseason, Hyun-Jin Ryu is headed for free agency. He should do well because he will not be attached to a qualifying offer and could be a stealth pickup for teams that can’t afford Cole or Stephen Strasburg.
Apropos of Nothing
Word gets around pretty quickly, and now most everybody I work with knows I write for Cubs Insider. I was asked 11 times yesterday who will be the team’s next manager. My answer? “I have no idea.” Who does? My boss wasn’t too happy with the extracurricular conversations.
Well this is fun!
— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 16, 2019
They Said It
- “[Castellanos] is not in a bad spot. He’s the youngest free agent and he doesn’t have a qualifying offer. So I would say he’s in position to be optimally observed because he fits the MO of any team — whether you’re a rebuilding team because of his age or whether you’re a club that is close to winning and wants to win or an existing top ’A’ club that’s going to compete for the World Series. He’s one of those guys who fits all clubs.” – Scott Boras
- “If we can acquire a prototypical leadoff hitter, that’d be fantastic and make everybody’s life easier going forward. If we can’t, the best solution is just get as many players who get on base as possible and have a lot of different options of guys that you can throw up — based on matchup situations — into that spot. But, I think we have to do a better job of having more diverse offensive skill sets, including players who specialize in getting on base. If they can be a great baserunner, all the better.” – Theo Epstein
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) by The Backstreet Boys – Congratulations to the Nationals and their fans. D.C. has waited a long time for this moment.