Thanks to the Rangers’ win last night, it is officially hot stove season. They stunned everybody by going 11-0 on the road in the postseason and were crowned champions after their 5-0 win over the Diamondbacks last night. Corey Seager was named MVP and Bruce Bochy won his fourth ring as a manager. Congratulations to the Rangers.
Arizona and Texas finished under .500 the last two years, giving every MLB team hope that turning a franchise around is much less difficult if you have a legitimate plan. Both teams also proved that you can win with a good mix of veterans and rookies, which bodes well for the Cubs. Evan Carter and Josh Jung of the Rangers were stellar throughout the playoffs, as were Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, and Brandon Pfaadt of the Diamondbacks. We should all hope David Ross and Jed Hoyer were paying close attention.
Speaking of Hoyer, he gets to start working on roster construction almost immediately. The GM Meetings begin next Tuesday and the Winter Meetings start December 4. With that in mind, I have some offseason requests, though I’m not suggesting Hoyer is capable of doing all of the following. The entire wishlist changes, however, if the Cubs can somehow manage to sign Shohei Ohtani.
- Trade for Juan Soto.
The Padres want three prospects for the 25-year-old outfielder, and that’s a fair request. Most assume that the Cubs would have to give up three of their top minor leaguers to acquire Soto, but that seems unlikely according to recent trade history. San Diego acquired Soto along with Josh Bell from the Nationals in 2022 in exchange for Robert Hassell, CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Luke Voit, Jarlin Susana, and James Wood in return. Soto is in the final year of his contract and, though he’s a generational player, he’s still a rental. My proposal: Soto and RHP Scott Barlow for Christopher Morel, Ben Brown, James Triantos, and Brennen Davis. I’d also move Seiya Suzuki to DH to free up right field for Soto.
- Trade for Tyler Glasnow.
The hard-throwing righthander will make $25 million in 2024 and has a bit of an injury rap sheet so he won’t be as expensive in terms of prospects as Soto. My proposal: Glasnow for Moisés Ballesteros and Derniche Valdez.
- Trade for Corbin Burnes.
It’s never going to happen, but I heard a fan proposal yesterday on ESPN 94.5 FM here in Milwaukee that Kevin Alcántara and Jordan Wicks would be a sufficient return for Burnes. It’s an intriguing suggestion and worth a discussion. Burnes wouldn’t be a bad consolation if Glasnow doesn’t come to Chicago, but I just don’t see the Brewers moving him to a division rival even at that steep a price.
- Sign Jeimer Candelario.
I believe Matt Shaw is the future at third base, but Candelario buys the Cubs time until Shaw is ready. He’ll probably want a two-year deal at $12-15 million. That’s a fair contract and Candelario has enough versatility to help at first base and DH, too. I’m probably in the minority, but I’d rather have Candelario than Matt Chapman.
- Trust the kids.
Ross has to let Pete Crow-Armstrong, Matt Mervis, Luke Little, and perhaps Alcántara further their development as major league regulars. I prefer the Cubs give Crow-Armstrong and Mervis regular at-bats instead of signing Cody Bellinger, especially if Hoyer can retain Candelario. I wouldn’t mind seeing Cade Horton in Chicago’s rotation, either.
- Trade Marcus Stroman.
I believe Stroman will opt out, but if he doesn’t, Hoyer needs to trade him to any team that shows interest no matter how little the return. Perhaps the Rays would take him in a package for Glasnow if Hoyer agrees to eat 50-60% of the $21 million Stro will get if he sticks around.
- Sign Reynaldo López.
Adding Barlow and López would improve Chicago’s bullpen, which was thin even before injuries decimated it late in the season. The Cubs need hard throwers in their bullpen, and López has seen his fastball tick up significantly in each of the last three seasons.
- Say goodbye to useful but aging veterans.
I’ve always liked Patrick Wisdom, Codi Heuer, and Nick Madrigal. but it’s time to move on. I’d like to see the front office non-tender Wisdom and Heuer and trade Madrigal, especially if Chicago’s brain trust believes Shaw will help the team in 2024. The $4-5 million in savings is a pittance, but the roster spots are far more valuable.
- Extend Adbert Alzolay and Justin Steele.
Both players are going to get expensive as they matriculate through their arbitration years. Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ signed nice extensions this season, now Hoyer needs to lock up his two young pitchers.
- Exercise the options on Yan Gomes and Kyle Hendricks.
Gomes is well worth the $6 million option Chicago holds and I wouldn’t mind locking him up on a 2/$12 million deal. He’s the heart and soul of this team and I’d like to see him win a ring with the Cubs. Hendricks earned the $16 million he’s due if his team option is exercised. He’s also a candidate for an extension and I believe 2/$24 million would get it done.
Cubs News & Notes
- Bench coach Andy Green interviewed with the Mets for their vacant managerial position, though Craig Counsell is still considered the favorite.
- John Mallee is reportedly returning to the Cubs, though he is not replacing Dustin Kelly. Mallee spent last season as Iowa’s hitting coach.
- Today is a very significant day in Cubs’ team history, in case you are unaware or forgetful.
- The Yankees could pursue Candelario if they are unable to sign Chapman in free agency.
- Michael Wacha could be on Chicago’s radar if the Padres decline his ’24 option.
- The Cubs are also linked to Aaron Nola.
- Keith Law of The Athletic believes Bellinger will get nearly $200 million in free agency ($) on a six or seven-year deal because the market tends to run on recency bias.
- The center fielder is viewed as a perfect for for the Cubs, but there are at least 10 teams that feel the same way.
- Bellinger, Chapman, and Ohtani will almost certainly enter free agency attached to qualifying offers.
- Bellinger, Suzuki, and Dansby Swanson are finalists for the NL Silver Slugger Award at their respective positions.
- Fulmer, Candelario, Brad Boxberger, Tyler Duffey, and Shane Greene are Chicago’s outgoing free agents until decisions are made regarding Bellinger, Stroman, Hendricks, Gomes, and all arb-eligible players.
- The Cardinals could pursue Hendricks if the Cubs decline his option.
- There are five managerial openings, but Joe Maddon is not on any of those teams’ lists.
- Alcántara will participate in the AFL Home Run Derby this weekend.
- College football returns to Wrigley Field this Saturday when Northwestern hosts Iowa.
Odds & Sods
I doubt Craig Breslow considers Stroman a rotation upgrade, but I’m crossing my fingers anyway. It will be interesting to see if he pursues any trades with the Cubs.
Tom Werner described the Red Sox as “full throttle” this offseason, and suggested Breslow can pursue rotation upgrades in ways he sees fit.
— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) November 2, 2023
- Milwaukee: The Mets are formally interviewing Counsell today and I expect he will be hired almost immediately thereafter.
- Cincinnati: The Reds are in a rare yet enviable position for a small-market team and could be 2-3 moves shy of becoming the 2024 NL Central favorites.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates are looking for a human pierogi in case you’re looking for a career change. Seasonal work only.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals intend to pursue former White Sox starter Lucas Giolito this winter.
World Series News & Notes
The Rangers could be even better next season.
Last night’s win by the Rangers leaves the Padres, Brewers, Rockies, Rays, and Mariners as the only MLB teams without a championship.
The Rays and Mariners have the best chances of escaping that list.
Prior to this season, the best road record in a single postseason was 8-0 by the 1996 Yankees.
Arizona stopped Rangers players from having a post-championship party in their outfield pool.
Arizona reached the World Series with baseball’s 13th-best record and a negative run differential during the regular season.
That said, the Diamondbacks believe they can get back to the World Series next year.
Free agency officially starts on Monday, with Ohtani, Bellinger, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto atop the wishlist of several teams. Bellinger and Carlos Santana are the only top-50 free agents linked to the Cubs by CBS Sports and I agree. I think Chicago will be much more active in the trade market.
The Padres had to borrow $50 million in September to address short-term cash flow issues and meet payroll obligations. That should lower the cost to acquire Soto just a bit.
Those “way-too-early” rankings are never going to go away, are they? What is the sense of predicting next year before teams build their rosters?
Astros GM Dana Brown said he’s yet to interview anybody to replace manager Dusty Baker. Counsell is not listed among the team’s short list of candidates, though the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel believes Houston is a potential suitor.
“Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.”
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) November 2, 2023
They Said It
- “It’s a very individual game to a certain extent. We game-plan as a team. We come up with team principles that we want to execute. But they still have to go up there and have their at-bat and stick to their strengths. It’s balancing that and giving guys some freedom to go in there and have their at-bat. But it’s also the overarching game plan of: ‘This is how we’re going to beat this pitcher as a group.’ That message stayed consistent all the way through.” – Kelly
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Did somebody say “Throwback Thursday?”