The need to add a bullpen arm has become more acute with word received today that on November 6th oft-injured closer Brandon Morrow underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. Theo Epstein says he expects the hard-throwing right-hander to miss the beginning of the season.
Theo Epstein says Brandon Morrow may not be available by Opening Day 2019 after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his elbow in early November. The Cubs are obviously looking for more bullpen help this winter.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) December 6, 2018
Cubs Finalize Coaching Staff
The Cubs officially announced that Tommy Hottovy will replace Jim Hickey as Pitching Coach. Hottovy worked with the rotation on breaking down video and is highly thought of by the front office. Chicago also finalized the rest of the coaching staff.
Tommy Hottovy named pitching coach, Borzello adds associate pitching coach to his title, Termell Sledge is assistant hitting coach, Chris Denorfia is quality assurance coach and Brandon Hyde will return as bench coach, pending interview with Baltimore
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) December 6, 2018
Mike Borzello gets a much deserved additional title of associate pitching coach. The catching instructor puts together the scouting reports for the starting staff and sometimes will call pitches during games. He has arguably been more important to the Cubs than Chris Bosio or Jim Hickey. Sledge, a former MLB player, joins new hitting coach Anthony Iapoce. Denorfia played with the Cubs at the end of his career under the current front office.
The hot stove is starting to heat up as the Winter Meetings approach next week. It's only fitting the meetings are in Vegas this year, as Nevada's own Bryce Harper continues getting a lot of the attention.
The Cubs are making very little noise on the rumor front. The reported financial concerns that are hanging over the off-season continue to dominate the conversation. Still, lets see what few rumors there are for the Northsiders.
Former Cubs Den contributor Tom Loxas says he's heard the Cubs have talked with reliever Andrew Miller, but he is unsure how far things have gone.
Cubs recently talked with Andrew Miller peeps. Risky and still could be costly, but I’d like that fit.
— TomLoxas (@TomLoxas) December 4, 2018
Miller had an injury plagued 2018, after excellent years in 2017 and 16. The tall lefty is on the wrong side of 30 and would be a risky pick up. If he could recapture his 2016 form however, it would be a very nice addition to the pen, especially in light of the news involving Morrow.
Last week, Craig Mish, a host on Sirius/XM radio and a Marlins insider reported a JT Realmuto for Willson Contreras catcher swap was possible.
I’m unclear what level of interest the Cubs have in Realmuto but they do. Sources have indicated to me they could move on from Contreras as well.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) November 30, 2018
I'm not a fan of the idea of this deal for the Cubs, there have been no subsequent rumors about it so it's unclear if it had any legs. Selling low on Willson Contreras is not a wise strategy. He did not have a good second half at the plate and his framing issues have been analyzed to death.
He is also younger than Realmuto, and had better numbers than him in 2017. If framing is important to you JT is an average receiver according to the metrics. Perhaps most importantly, Contreras is under team control for four years while the Marlins catcher only has two years left.
The Cubs biggest rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals made the biggest move of the winter so far. They traded three players for Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt on Wednesday. Goldie has a career batting average over .350 against Chicago, so that is great. Arizona got a relatively light return for their All-Star slugger, starter Luke Weaver and catcher Carson Kelly the main pieces. The big first-baseman is only under contract for 2019, so that limited the potential return. Rumors are now flying the D-Backs may be going for a total rebuild, so keep an eye on Zack Greinke among others.
Speaking of former Arizona players, left-handed starter Patrick Corbin signed a block-buster six-year $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals. This came as a surprise to many writers, cough....Bob Nightengale...cough, who thought the Yankees or Phillies were the front-runners for Corbin. 2018 was a breakout year for Corbin, who piled up 246 strikeouts in 200 innings with a 3.15 ERA (2.47 FIP).
Cleveland signed starter Carlos Carrasco to a three-year $37.5 million dollar contract extension on Thursday. The move is likely to repercussions for the other pitchers in the Tribes' rotation.
On the heels of Carlos Carrasco’s three-year, $37.5M extension, Cleveland is increasingly motivated to move Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Plenty of options on the trade market, which is extremely active as Patrick Corbin has signed with the Nationals.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 6, 2018
The former Cy Young winner Kluber will draw lots of interest on the trade market. The soon-to-be 33 year old righty won 20 games in 2018 with a sub-3.00 ERA. He is due $17.5 million in 2019 and has two team options for $17.5 million (2020) and $18 million (2021).
The 27-year old Bauer had a breakout year in 2018 with a 2.21 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 175 innings before injuries kept him out in September. Still on his rookie deal, he is due a big arbitration raise after his tremendous season. Bauer will become a free-agent in 2021 so Cleveland may want to get some value on him before then. Most importantly, he has to stop cutting himself with his drone.
Welp...got my finger stuck in a drone blade again.
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) December 3, 2018
Harping on Bryce
The Bryce Harper watch continues with team presentations at the slugging outfielder's Las Vegas home. Both the White Sox and Cubs are involved in the talks at least somewhat. Not to stoke the flames of Cubs fans Harper fire even more, but the Bryant's and the Harper's went out together again this time to a Nelly concert.
If they keep hanging out like this, the rumors will be getting really hot in here. Yes I know I'm old making 20 year-old rap references.