The Rundown: Cubs Add Depth with Pérez Signing, Mets May Be Interested in Contreras, Dodgers & Red Sox Talking Betts
The Chicago Tribune has had a regular sports column going all the way back to 1907 called In the Wake of the News, first published by Hugh E. Kehoe, and carried on by acclaimed writers Ring Lardner, Hugh Fullerton, Dave Condon, and Bernie Lincicome, among others. Because I write an early morning wrap-up style column, I rarely get the chance to break any news. Check that, I have never been the first to report any news. But I do get to provide my commentary onthe previous day’s events each morning, which makes me feel a lot like Bob Verdi, who will always be my favorite Tribune columnist of all time.
By the way, John Sayles, who directed and starred as Lardner in the movie Eight Men Out, could pass for the writer’s twin. The resemblance is almost scary.
The Cubs made another middling free agent signing yesterday, poaching a former Brewers infielder from baseball’s offseason sales rack. I don’t have much to say about Hernán Pérez other than he is a decent pick to fill the 26th roster spot, he gives the Cubs more infield depth in case the team feels Nico Hoerner needs some more seasoning in the minors, and despite an OPS+ of 64 in 2019, he’s better than carrying the dead weight of Addison Russell.
Otherwise, it is just another non-marquee free agent signing that keeps the front office at the precipice of their alleged budget restrictions. Still, some outlets are calling the signing “intriguing,” though that may be a stretch. The utility infielder carries a lifetime .282 OBP and has more strikeouts than hits over his last two seasons. Pérez has always been one of the go-to utility position players on my fantasy team because he has a little pop and steals some bases. He’s got a little fire, too, and the Cubs could use some of that.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Mets would like to get a little more offense at the catcher position and might make a run at Willson Contreras.
- The strong framing skills exhibited by Victor Caratini could be one reason the front office may consider moving Contreras.
- Just a reminder to those who favor trading Kris Bryant: The third baseman holds a career .284/.385/.516 (.901 OPS) slash line with .383 wOBA. He’s belted 138 home runs in five seasons and and has compiled 27.8 fWAR to date.
- More Bryant:
By the way, appropos of nothing other than I checked his splits out of curiosity: Kris Bryant hit .305 w/ 17 homers and a .977 OPS in 223 ABs with runners on base in 2019, and for his career he's a .293 hitter with a .933 OPS in nearly 1,400 plate appearances with runners on.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) December 12, 2019
- The Cubs figure to be one of the busiest teams in baseball in the weeks leading up to spring training.
- No Cubs player made the MLB.com Team of the Decade, although relievers Craig Kimbrel, Wade Davis and Aroldis Chapman all played in Chicago during the 2010’s.
- Even at the age of 36 next year, Jon Lester is still probably the Cubs’ best bet to make 30 starts in 2020 because he’s already done that 12 seasons in a row (subscription to The Athletic required).
- One internal option for the fifth starter is Adbert Alzolay, the right-hander who has been a top pitching prospect the last couple years, though his career has been slowed by injuries.
- The team’s top 10 defensive plays of the decade includes the tarp catch by Anthony Rizzo. I had forgotten Leonys Martin and Marlon Byrd once played for the Cubs until I read this piece by Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Call it selective memory.
The Dodgers are still in the fight to sign Josh Donaldson and have their eyes set on acquiring one of Bryant, Mookie Betts, or Francisco Lindor if Donalson signs elsewhere.
Betts would seem to be the more likely acquisition, as the Dodgers and Red Sox have reportedly started trade talks.
The contract Madison Bumgarner signed with the Diamondbacks will pay the veteran starter a base salary of $6 million in 2020 and includes $15 million in deferred payments after the contract expires.
Giants’ announcer Mike Krukow was “personally hurt” that Bumgarner did not opt to stay in San Francisco.
The Braves may find Donaldson to be a bit too steep for their budget and are said to be considering numerous third base options ranging from Bryant to Jung Ho Kang.
Stephen Strasburg said that his relationship with ace Max Scherzer is one of the main reasons he decided to stay with the Nationals.
Scherzer’s offseason training regimen at the halfway point of the offseason has included “a really nice hangover.”
The Anges are interested in Tigers’ starter Matthew Boyd.
The new rule requiring relief pitchers to face a minimum of three batters could signal the end of the left-handed specialist. More importantly, a lot of those relievers have appearance clauses attached to their contracts, so the new rule could save teams quite a bit of money.
Apropos of Nothing
Do they still do the Darwin Awards? I have a late 2019 entry. A 20-year-old man accused of driving a stolen car was arrested by Indiana State Police late last week. While attempting to help the man with his disabled vehicle, the officers realized that the perp’s license plate was written in crayon.
I just don’t see Bryant playing for the Braves. I know that they could probably give the Cubs the most bang in return for the MVP third baseman, but I still can’t wrap my head around it.
They Said It
- “The big games that [Lester] has pitched for us, and the consistency that he’s given us, and the fact that he’s still a vital member of the team going into the last fully guaranteed year of that deal says a lot about him and his work ethic. So if you ask him, I think he’s holding himself to the same standards that he always does. He hates losing. He wants to win. He’s going to work extremely hard.” – Theo Epstein
- “I’ve been written off before. I think I’ve done all right for myself. I don’t care about that. I care about winning.” – Jon Lester
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac. Always a great start to your Hump Day morning. Mick Fleetwood is such an underrated drummer, and the same can be said of Lindsey Buckingham as a guitarist.