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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Articles tagged: Chicago Cubs

Javier Baez delivers scathing assessment of Cubs’ motivation in 2019

It sounds like things are going to be a bit different for the Chicago Cubs in 2020 under new manager David Ross. One way of telling this is to hear just how honest some members of the team have been about 2019.

Javier Baez admitted Sunday that the Cubs had been too laid back at the start of games last season. He believes that approach ensured he didn’t feel ready at first pitch.

“It wasn’t something bad, but we have a lot of optional things,” Baez said, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “Not mandatory. Everyone kind of sat back on that, including me. I wasn’t really going out there and preparing for the game. I was getting ready during the game, which is not good.

“I got to the field, and instead of going outside and hitting BP, I would do everything inside, which is not the same. Once I go out to the field for the game, I feel like I wasn’t ready. I feel like I was getting loose during the first four innings. I should be ready and excited to get out before the first pitch, and I promise you this year is going to be like that.”

Baez added that many Cubs had taken the same approach, and that he felt that it led to the entire team being unready on some occasions.

The Cubs infielder isn’t doing it maliciously, but what he’s pointing out is likely a big reason why Joe Maddon was not brought back as manager. Maddon’s laid-back approach may have fostered a sense of complacency in recent seasons. It was exactly what the Cubs needed when he originally came in, and it helped win a World Series, but since then, it has not led to further successes. Maybe that’s why the Cubs put so much importance in how the new manager would address his team when deciding to hire David Ross as Maddon’s replacement.

Report: Cubs, Rockies have discussed trading Kris Bryant for Nolan Arenado

Kris Bryant

Though we’re fairly late in the MLB offseason, there are still some major potential trades being talked about within the league, including one that would be huge for both teams.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers told NBC Sports Chicago’s “Kap and Co.” that the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies have discussed a one-for-one Kris Bryant for Nolan Arenado trade, via Tim Stebbins of NBC Sports Chicago. The Rockies would pick up salary as part of the trade.

The Cubs were seen as one of the teams who could be a good match for a potential Arenado trade. While interesting, it certainly doesn’t sound close, and is the product of creative discussions.

We’ve been hearing Bryant trade rumors all offseason. He has two years to go before he becomes a free agent, while Arenado is due $234 million through 2026. Both are star players, and both could still get traded this offseason, but there has been little momentum in trade talks — between these two teams or with anyone else — so far this winter.

Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs after seeking to hit free agency sooner

Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant has been openly critical of the way Major League Baseball allows teams to manipulate service time with players, and the star third baseman tried to fight the system by filing a grievance against the Chicago Cubs. As expected, Bryant was unsuccessful, meaning he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.

Bryant lost the grievance he filed against the Cubs in which he sought an extra year of service time, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. Bryant had argued that the Cubs intentionally manipulated his service time by having him spend the first two weeks of the 2015 season in the minors, which is something many teams have done with their rising stars. Unfortunately for Bryant and others, it’s very hard to prove there was manipulation, as teams can argue they had young players begin in the minors for any sort of development reason.

The 28-year-old has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, though talks do not seem to have gone anywhere. Teams may be willing to give up more for Bryant now that it is a certainty that he has two years of team control remaining, though it was somewhat of a foregone conclusion that he was going to lose the grievance.

Bryant unloaded on the Cubs prior to last season for leaving him in the minors for two weeks in 2015 following his impressive spring. Other players in similar situations have also considered filing grievances, but the outcome of Bryant’s case will likely discourage that.

Report: Rockies could look to trade Nolan Arenado to Cubs or Cardinals

There is still a chance that the Colorado Rockies could trade Nolan Arenado before the start of the regular season, and there are two teams they might be hoping become interested in their star third baseman.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Rockies are “intrigued” by the possibility of trading Arenado to the Chicago Cubs or St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams have the major league ready return the Rockies are pursuing, and the Cardinals in particular have the payroll to make it work.

The Cubs, meanwhile, are looking to restructure their roster. Passan notes the possibility of the Cubs trading a player like Willson Contreras as part of an Arenado deal, then trading Kris Bryant in a big to refurbish their farm system. While this scenario does not appear to have been seriously discussed, it makes sense for both sides.

Passan notes that the Rockies have discussed Arenado with the Braves, but talks have not progressed. The Nationals also have a need at third base, but have not seriously pursued Arenado, possibly because the asking price is simply too high for their liking.

What is clear, however, is that the Rockies are definitely still interested in trading Arenado. He’s a superstar with a .295 career average and three 40 homer seasons who plays elite defense and is only 28. It’s easy to see why the Rockies would want a ton in return for him.

Report: Nationals’ Kris Bryant trade talks have ‘gone nowhere’

Kris Bryant

With the Washington Nationals in need of a third baseman, there was some talk that Chicago’s Kris Bryant could be a logical fit. That may be so, but the Cubs are understandably not giving him up easily.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, talks between the Nationals and Cubs about Bryant have “gone nowhere” at this stage.

The Cubs’ willingness to trade Bryant is a matter of some debate. They still have two more seasons of team control on a player who hit .282 with 31 home runs last season. That should command a hefty asking price. It apparently is, considering the Nationals are so far unwilling to part with one of their best young players in any prospective deal.

Washington, in need of a third baseman after Anthony Rendon’s departure, is waiting on a decision from the top free agent at that position. If he goes elsewhere, they may have to revisit these talks.

Report: Cubs, Phillies have discussed Kris Bryant trade

Kris Bryant

Could Kris Bryant be on the move this winter? A new rumor indicates that the Chicago Cubs have, at the very least, not slammed the door shut on the possibility.

According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have had discussions about a Bryant trade, though discussions have not progressed significantly and nothing appears imminent.

A Bryant trade would be a surprise, but not a total shock. It was rumored that the door might be open on such a deal late in the season, with the Cubs feeling the need to shake things up after a couple years of perceived underachievement and a desire to replenish the team’s farm system. There is also some worry about agent Scott Boras taking Bryant to free agency instead of a potential contract extension.

The Cubs probably aren’t eager to move Bryant, who hit .282 with 31 home runs in 2019. However, this is definitely something worth watching for the remainder of the season.

Report: Rival teams believe Cubs could trade Willson Contreras

The Chicago Cubs could be about to embark on an offseason of significant change, and it could start at the catcher position.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, multiple teams believe that the Cubs will make catcher Willson Contreras available for trade this offseason as part of a retooling effort.

Barring any changes, the Cubs are likely facing a payroll approaching $190 million for Opening Day 2020. Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are both heading for arbitration hearings that will make them both more expensive. Contreras is, too, and the price will only keep going up. Yasmani Grandal leads a crop of intriguing free agent catchers, and the Cubs may go that route instead.

Contreras hit .272 with a career-high 24 home runs for the Cubs last season in 105 games. He has been a source of frustration for the team at times, which could also help them be comfortable with opting to move on.