The Rundown: Cubs’ Free Agency Freeze Continues Despite Weekend Frenzy, Amaya’s Post-Surgery Outlook Not Promising, Expect More Signings Ahead of Lockout
What a time to be a Cubs fan, am I right? A flurry of late weekend deals has changed the face and balance of baseball, with many more moves expected over the next three days. With the non-tender deadline pushed up to November 30 and a lockout set to begin December 2 at 12:01am ET, free agents are inking deals at a record pace. The Mets and Rangers look much stronger, the Marlins, Twins, and Rays are actually spending money, and yet not even a whiff of a rumor is attached to the Cubs.
After claiming Wade Miley off waivers from the Reds and making a trade to acquire outfielder Harold Ramirez from the Guardians, perhaps Hoyer’s work in Phase 1 of the Great Reset is now complete. Who knew that spending intelligently meant not spending at all? How very libertarian of Jed Hoyer and Cleveland-like of Carter Hawkins.
Here’s a condensed version of MLB’s extended Black Friday event. Evan Altman provided a more detailed transcript earlier today.
- The Cardinals signed Steven Matz
- The Mets signed shortstop Eduardo Escobar, outfielder Mark Canha, and outfielder Starling Marte, and are said to be close to reaching an agreement with top available starter Max Scherzer.
- The Red Sox signed pitcher Michael Wacha
- The Mariners acquired UT Adam Frazier from the Padres
- The Astros signed closer Héctor Neris
- The Blue Jays signed pitchers Yimi García and Kevin Gausman
- The Rays signed Corey Kluber after officially announcing the extension given to Wander Franco last week
- The Twins extended outfielder Byron Buxton
- The Marlins signed outfielder Avisaíl García after failing to reach an agreement with Marte and gave a $65 million extension to starter Sandy Alcantara
- The Rangers signed Marcus Semien, Jon Gray, and Kole Calhoun, and expect to sign a shortstop before the CBA expires.
- The Angels signed Michael Lorenzen, giving them potentially two full-time two-way players.
On the one hand, it’s exciting to see player movement updates every few minutes. The frantic pace is as fun as it is exhausting, and traditional non-spenders opening up their wallets provides somewhat of an assurance that a salary floor is coming with the next CBA. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to see the Cubs sitting on the sidelines as premium players fall off the board.
They did sign Locke St. John, and Matthew Boyd, who has been linked to the Cubs in trade rumors for several years, is expected to be non-tendered by the Tigers. Break out the party favors. Starters Carlos Rodón, Alex Cobb, and Yusei Kikuchi may still be targets of Chicago’s front office, and shortstops Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, and Javier Báez remain available, though Seager is expected to sign somewhere today. The Rangers have been heavily linked to Seager and are said to be exploring a deal with Story as a contingency.
The Cubs obviously aren’t in a position to go chips-in this winter and Hoyer has stated previously that it’s difficult to build a consistent winner solely through free agency. That said, we were all led to believe he was willing to attack the open market intelligently and that his priority was to find at least two pitchers with big arms. That hasn’t happened, so unless the front office has managed to kick the tires on Robbie Ray without anybody noticing, it looks like any pitcher the Cubs do sign will have more question marks than raw talent, like Boyd or Dylan Bundy.
In the meantime, Chicago still needs an outfielder, a shortstop, a backup catcher, and, with David Bote out for some time, a depth infielder. None of that matters if Hoyer can’t build a competitive rotation, something that is looking less likely with each passing hour.
Cubs News & Notes
- What will the Cubs’ 2025 rotation look like? Baseball America predicts Brailyn Márquez will be Chicago’s No. 1 starter, followed by Adbert Alzolay, Jordan Wicks, Caleb Kilian, and DJ Herz.
- Nelson Velázquez ditched his leg kick and improved his launch position to turn himself into one of the organization’s top hitters this season.
- It appears Báez might be Detroit’s backup plan if the Tigers can’t reach a deal with Correa.
- Reliever Hansel Robles hasn’t been mentioned at all this winter, but he might be a realistic target for Hoyer and Hawkins.
- Based on a study by the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, the outlook for Miguel Amaya once he recovers from elbow reconstruction is not very promising.
- The Cubs have tremendous organizational depth at third base, though most of the players have yet to prove themselves. Chase Strumpf is probably closest to the majors right now and he profiles more as a utility player.
Odds & Sods
Nick Castellanos is looking for a seven- or eight-year deal. That pretty much rules out the Cubs. By the way, all of the ex-Cubs are still available. If Hoyer wants to put the band back together, he has his pick of Castellanos, Báez, Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant. Starter Jake Arietta is also still available, please don’t kill the messenger.
The threat of a lockout is the main driver behind the ongoing flurry of free-agent signings.
Rizzo is looking for a new beginning in free agency.
The deal Semien signed with the Rangers has dramatically changed the financial landscape of the remaining free agent shortstops.
The Mets are reportedly offering Scherzer a deal worth $40 million or more in AAV over three or four years.
In 26 career outings against the Mets, Scherzer is 14-5 with a 2.68 ERA. Those numbers include a 10-2 record and 2.14 ERA at pitcher-friendly Citi Field.
If you can’t beat the Dodgers, just sign all of their free agents. That seems like the Mets’ plan so far this winter.
The Phillies have had recent contact with Castellanos.
Philadelphia is also reportedly interested in Bryant.
The Mariners are also linked to the former Cubs’ third baseman.
After signing Garcia and missing out on Marte, the Marlins are reportedly interested in finding another big outfield bat.
The Twins have been linked to Ray, who would be one of the biggest acquisitions in franchise history.
Buxton’s deal with the Twins comes with a lot of performance incentives, many unheard of in baseball prior to the deal, at least as far as potential earnings are concerned.
The Reds have had talks with multiple teams about starting pitchers Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo.
The Yankees are drawing considerable trade interest in outfielder Joey Gallo.
New York may non-tender catcher Gary Sánchez today or tomorrow but are confident enough trade interest exists to move him before making that decision.
Happy 94th birthday to legendary announcer Vin Scully, and may I remind you all once again of his wonderful quote about Wrigley Field:
“She stands alone at the corner of Clark and Addison, this dowager queen, dressed in basic black and pearls, seventy-five years old, proud head held high and not a hair out of place, awaiting yet another date with destiny, another time for Mr. Right. She dreams as old ladies will of men gone long ago. Joe Tinker. Johnny Evers. Frank Chance. And of those of recent vintage like her man Ernie Banks. And the Lion [Leo Durocher]. And Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams. And she thinks wistfully of what might have been, and the pain is still fresh and new, and her eyes fill, her lips tremble, and she shakes her head ever so slightly. And then she sighs, pulls her shawl tightly around her frail shoulders, and thinks, This time, this time it will be better.”
Monday Walk-Up Song
My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion – Thank you for the waterworks, Mr. Scully.