The Rundown: Hoyer Gets Some Extra Spending Money, Bryant Feeling Good, Agreement Reached on Health Protocols
I know I am supposed to be off today but I thought I’d put pen to paper before going to bed to give my bosses here at Cubs Insider a slight reprieve. They’ve been very good to me and writing a column on my day off is my small way of showing my appreciation. By the time you read this I’ll be on an operating table, but at least my post will allow Evan to focus on the more compelling stuff, like…
What is Jed Hoyer going to do with his most recent windfall?
I think it’s heartwarming that Tom Ricketts has increased Hoyer’s allowance for the second time this winter. It’s just too bad the president of baseball operations is forced to look for a gold nugget or two in a heap of free agency scrap. If I had my druthers I’d hope the front office works on an extension or two, though I firmly believe the semi-reckoning that has happened since Hoyer took over for Theo Epstein will eventually lead to Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Báez playing elsewhere later this season.
The way things have played out so far, and looking at the team’s current rotation, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Zach Davies is the first (or only) player to get extended. The club would also like to add another veteran starter, possibly as soon as this week.
“This year we are looking at the starters with seven or eight guys involved,” Hoyer said yesterday. “We will continue to look at adding to the rotation. That is an area we want to continue to build. We are happy to bring on Trevor Williams. We have had success with pitchers like him before. We will continue to try and add rotation pieces through the rest of the winter. I would say if there is anything that keeps me up at night, it is the depth of our pitching staff.”
Without specifically mentioning Cubs players by name, Jed Hoyer said he plans to revisit contract extension talks during spring training: “I expect these guys to have big years.”
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) February 8, 2021
Hoyer is on record as stating that he has hit nothing but roadblocks in negotiations with his soon-to-be free three, though there have been no indications that any firm offers were presented to those players and their agents. The half-hearted and late attempt to retain Jon Lester probably gives us some type of idea as to the organization’s stance on extensions, i.e., Ricketts and his executive team would like them to accept team-friendly discounts. That’s probably what led to the dismissal of Kyle Schwarber, too.
Though Hoyer confirmed yesterday that he doesn’t have to shed any more salary, it’s possible the executive trimmed roughly $70 million in payroll in an effort to free up money to extend one or two of Rizzo, Báez, and Bryant. It’s more likely, however, that the Cubs are looking more toward next winter or the one after, a new collective bargaining agreement, and little in the way of salary commitments before starting to shop at baseball’s premium outlets. There are some elite players who will be available next winter, and 2022-23 has some good-but-not-great options at all positions, too.
If Hoyer is smart, he should be managing his finances for the 2023-24 offseason, when Manny Machado, Matt Chapman, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Tim Anderson, José Ramírez, Rhys Hoskins, Tyler Glasnow, Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Luis Severino, and Dinelson Lamet could all be free agents. By that time, the Cubs’ next core should be well on their way to successful major league careers. With the pandemic (hopefully) a distant memory by then, the organization should also be in a better position to return to normal payrolls.
Cubs News & Notes
- Free agent starter Taijuan Walker would make a nice addition to the Cubs rotation if Hoyer is looking to spend some of his new stash on new players.
- Hoyer admitted it was a bit of a “bitter pill” to see the Cardinals acquire Nolan Arenado, and that the Cubs had “some initial conversations with Colorado” regarding the all-star third baseman.
- The front office does believe the team’s core hitters will return to form this season.
- Among other topics, the Cubs president of baseball operations admitted navigating COVID-19 will still be one of the team’s biggest challenges this season.
- The Cubs will conduct more thorough background checks when deciding hires in the wake of sexual harassment accusations against former director of pro scouting Jared Porter.
- Per Hoyer, Bryant is feeling good about things these days. “I actually talked to Kris last week,” the executive said. “I’ll keep the substance between us, but it was a great, great conversation, great tone. I felt like he was in a really good place.”
- The Cubs have been pretty silent on budget and payroll figures, and that’s because Hoyer believes revealing that information generally “puts a club at a competitive disadvantage.”
Odds & Sods
I never liked the pullover jerseys, and Bill Madlock did nothing to make them more appealing to me.
Bill Madlock could flat out swing it, and has a uni history few dare challenge pic.twitter.com/m0d69cVyA9
— CirclinTheBases (@CirclinTheBases) February 9, 2021
MLB and the union reached an agreement on health and safety protocols Monday night, paving the way for spring camps to open next week. A few of the more noteworthy rule changes enacted for the shortened 2020 baseball season will be back this year, including seven-inning doubleheaders and the universally loathed runner on second base to start extra innings.
The league also indicated it wants to make some slight changes to the baseball for the sake of uniformity. The new ball will be a little less lively.
It looks as if there will be no expanded playoffs in 2021, and a 26-man roster that expands to 28 in September may also be in the offing, per Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com.
Yadier Molina has agreed on a one-year, $9 million deal to return to the Cardinals.
Retired outfielder Matt Holliday believes Arenado is a good fit for St. Louis.
The Phillies and Chase Anderson finalized an agreement that will pay the starter $4 million for one year.
Ben Zobrist once struck out Molina, in case you forgot.
2019 PitchingNinja Award for Best K Strut by a Position Player. 🏆
Ben Zobrist. pic.twitter.com/ygYkkCiViY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 1, 2019
They Said It
- “My personal experience with guys in walk years is really positive. I’ll use Dexter Fowler as an example. We had him in two different walk years and he was outstanding. There’s that edge a guy plays with when he knows that he’s a free agent. We can benefit from that.” – Jed Hoyer
- “I think it’s my job to make sure that every woman that works here — every woman that is a reporter for our team, every vendor, [every woman] that comes through Wrigley Field — has to feel like this is a wonderful environment for them to work in and they have to look forward to being here. That has to be the standard. There can’t be any other standard. It has to be a great workplace for women, and a place that women can thrive.” – Hoyer
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Two Hits & the Joint Turned Brown by Yonder Mountain String Band – The big news up here in Milwaukee is that our governor is trying to legalize marijuana in any form. Though I am a confirmed Dead Head, I don’t partake but I also don’t judge. I do love this song, including the Gershwin intro, and have wished the newer iterations of the Dead would cover it.