The Rundown: Cubs Should Sign Nick Castellanos, Today’s (Reluctant) Kris Bryant Trade Proposal, Just Say No to Will Harris, Free Agency Predictions

Evan and the rest of the CI staff were on fire yesterday and covered so many topics they’ve left me nothing but a few scraps for the foundation of today’s Rundown. I would like to talk a little about Nicholas Castellanos, and though we’ve written about the right fielder and stud hitter almost every single day since his arrival to Chicago, he’s still a hot topic.

We want Nicky Two Bags to return badly because he represents so many things the North Siders have been lacking since 2016. He’s energetic, attacks pitchers, drives almost everything with authority, and is demonstrably hungry for a championship. He’s also projected to be relatively inexpensive this winter and he’s only 28 years old. Among current Cubs, only Willson Contreras can equal Big Nick Energy in fire and passion. Most of all, Castellanos seems to have so much fun playing baseball.

I was asked if the Cubs should re-sign Castellanos by someone in the comments section the morning after his first game with Chicago, and my answer was that he would be a great acquisition at the right price and once the Cubs have addressed their other needs. That hasn’t changed except that most of us have forgotten that Theo Epstein has as a big a project ahead of him this winter as he’s had since crashing Chicago’s 100-year-old (and then some) slumber party in 2011.

The Cubs still need a starting pitcher, relief help, a top-of-the-order hitter, a center fielder, and a second baseman. And they have a thin budget with which to work. Nico Hoerner should be the regular starter at the keystone during the 2020 season, if not right from Opening Day, and I maintain that Anthony Rizzo should just be allowed to bat leadoff every game. Unlike others, I am not opposed to going with an outfield of Castellanos in right, Jason Heyward in center, and Kyle Schwarber in left as long as Epstein can find a suitable defensive replacement for late innings. Billy Hamilton just happens to be available if you aren’t scared off by his deplorable OBP.

But none of those guys can pitch.

Singing Castellanos means the Cubs can trade Ian Happ, and let’s not kid ourselves, the front office has to stop dipping their toes in the water when it comes to moving some of the guys they love. I believe once they commit to trading just one player the dominoes may fall a little easier. Maybe Happ can bring back a young pitcher for the rotation or bullpen, and if the Cubs commit to trading Contreras they could probably address a few other needs, too.

So am I saying signing Big Stick Nick opens up all kinds of roster possibilities? You’re damn right I am.

Today’s Proposed Kris Bryant Trade

I am vehemently opposed to trading Kris Bryant because he’s the team’s best third baseman, but for the next month I am going to look at realistic trade scenarios with each MLB team in which I’d at least begrudgingly accept such a deal. I’ll leave the discussion for the comments section if you’d like to contribute.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks receive Bryant
  • Cubs receive: Eduardo Escobar, Zac Gallen, and minor leaguers Corbin Carroll and Levi Kelly. Escobar gives the Cubs a decent stopgap at third and Gallen could be a stud in the making. Carroll and Kelly are slight underrated, better than decent prospects. Caroll is your future leadoff batter.

Cubs News & Notes

Wednesday Stove

I’m going to use this section today to offer some predictions based on the MLBTR Top 50 Free Agents for 2019-20. Remember, I only got two predictions correct last year, so take it with a grain of salt. I do see Ben Zobrist going to the Angels, though he’s not listed below.

  1. Gerrit Cole – Angels: seven years, $240 million.
  2. Anthony Rendon – Nationals: eight years, $240 million, with deferments.
  3. Stephen Strasburg – Padres: six years, $200 million
  4. Zack Wheeler – Padres: five years, $115 million
  5. Josh Donaldson – Braves, three years, $55 million
  6. Madison Bumgarner – Phillies: three years, $50 million
  7. Castellanos – Cubs: four years, $60 million
  8. Yasmani Grandal – Angels: four years, $50 million
  9. Hyun-Jin Ryu – Yankees: four years $48 million
  10. Jake Odorizzi – White Sox: three years, $36 million
  11. Marcell Ozuna – Cardinals: accepts qualifying offer
  12. Didi Gregorius – Indians: three years, $36 million
  13. Dallas Keuchel– White Sox: three years, $36 million
  14. Will Smith – Cardinals: three years, $30 million
  15. Cole Hamels – Phillies: two years, $20 million

Extra Innings

Makes perfect sense to me, but I’d rather have a true strike zone.

They Said It

  • “We’re not gonna really talk about our payroll or budget, just for strategic reasons. It also doesn’t really matter — words don’t matter there. But we don’t want to tip off the rest of the league to what we’re trying to do. I think when we’re done assembling the team, you’ll have a good feel for what our budget was, but we’re gonna attack the offseason with the various means of player acquisition and try to shape the team for next year and for the future. We have to be mindful of both as we attack the offseason.” – Theo Epstein
  • “As a young player [Ross] had the authority that when he said something, it had weight to it. That’s hard to do as a young player. If he was mad, you knew there was a reason he was mad. He wasn’t the type who would get frustrated for no reason. If he was mad at a player for not doing something the right way or for a pitcher for shaking off a certain pitch in a situation that cost us, there was a reason behind it. That’s kind of held true throughout his career, to where he had the experience to back him up and then he had even more gravitas.” – Andy Green

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Feelin’ Love by Paula Cole. Somebody get me an ice cube.

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