Updated: Dec 14, 2019
The annual winter meetings for MLB are ending today, and, unlike last year there were plenty of big things happening. A couple of no names came to agreements on a new free agent contract. Gerrit Cole set a new benchmark for a free agent pitcher buy signing a $324 million dollar, 9 year deal. Former teammates Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon signed matching 7 year, $245 million dollar deals, and a few middle of the road names were traded along the way this week too.
However, the biggest news for Cubs fans is that Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber are on the trading block, and the Cubs did not offer an extension to Anthony Rizzo.
So, first things first. Multiple reports have come out saying the Cubs are actively working on a contract extension for Javier Baez and are fielding offers for Kris Bryant, among others. Apparently Baez is considered more valuable to the front office, right now, than Bryant. I have become a fan of Baez but there is nobody else on the planet, other than team Theo, that thinks he is better than Bryant.
To further add insult to insanity, a report, from David O'Brien of the Athletic, says the Cubs are looking for only two pitching prospects and a position player. Seriously? Kris Bryant is as about as sure a lock for the HOF as anybody currently playing and all you want is two prospects and an aging veteran? I don't even know what to say.
His agent, Scott Boras, said, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, that he is unsure whether Kris Bryant will be on the Cubs' opening day roster. Gulp. Boras is preparing him for an array of scenarios, including a possible trade.
According to Boras, "Core premium All-Star, MVP-type players are so valuable to a team, it's hard to ever think how you replace them, and so when you get into those levels historically, it's normally not something that's done." No kidding.
As for the other names being floated for trade bait, some are expendable and some are not. Kyle Schwarber can be moved with no loss felt, there are six guys in AAA that can fill his spot. Willson Contreras has the potential to be a generational catcher, especially if robo umps come into play. Trading him seems like a Lou Brock mistake waiting to happen.
With the emergence of Nico Horner last fall it feels like Baez is on the fence as to his value going forward. He still has zero patience at the plate and the Cubs need him to get better. As for the bomb regarding Rizzo, we should all take a deep breath and get another side to this story.
Yes, his agent Marc Pollack did put out a story that the Cubs informed him they will not be offering an extension at this time, however what he failed to point out, as Jed Hoyer, recently released from witness protection told NBC Chicago Sports Live. "Yeah, you know, we've always kept those conversations in-house, but we did have some conceptual conversations that obviously wasn't a match at this time. It doesn't mean there's not going to be a match at some point in the future."
OK, that's a big difference from no offer coming. Rizzo had a $16.5 million team option picked up for 2020, and has another $16.5 million option for 2021. Expect that option to be picked up also which means he is not really going to be a free agent until the 2022 season. Plenty of time to work things out. Hoyer added, "But we love Rizz. I hope he's a Cub forever."
So, to recap, the Cubs are exploring trades for their players who are coming up for free agency while starting talks about extending them with their agents. You know like every other team in baseball is doing with their players. Right now, much ado about nothing.
While Cole, Rendon, and Strasburg all signed life changing contracts, for their current and future generations, the big winner this week at the winter meetings was this man.
Scott Boras has inked over $820 million in contracts in the past two weeks, and, with his remaining clients waiting their turn at fortune, it seems likely that before spring training starts he will have signed his clients to over $1 billion in salaries. If he takes a reduced commission at 5%, that is a cool $50 million for his bank account. Take the rest of the year off my friend. Do you think he's worried about paying off his Visa bill next month?
Finally, whenever a city hosts an event like the winter meetings, draft day, etc, the mayor, city manager, or whomever is running things, always says that this will bring over 700 gazillion dollars to the city in incremental revenue. I have never, yet, seen a press conference after the event where the city tells everyone how much they made.
Listening to the MLB network this week as they spoke with players, management, writers, and anyone else down in San Diego covering this event, it became clear that the reason you never get the follow-up presser is because nobody ever leaves the hotel where the event takes place. I heard 50 people on TV say they've never left the hotel this week.
As someone who has been to far too many conventions and meetings in my life, I can tell you from experience that the only incremental money being spent is on cabs to and from the airport. Most events have cocktails, meals, and entertainment scheduled in the hotel where they can keep an eye on everyone. There is minimal cruising around town going on and in fact the locals are staying away in droves because they think things will be a zoo. I'm not sure it's worth it for most cities.