Jed's trying to Ross-proof the roster
Nothing says great management like having to take bad players away from your manager
It only took 123 games and four and a half months, but the Cubs roster is finally being whipped into shape.
In recent weeks Jed Hoyer has released two of his multi-year offseason signings, mostly so that his manager would stop playing them. Is that a good sign?
Remember back in the offseason when Cubs fans were enraptured with all of Jed’s “sensible spending?” Well, I mean some of it has worked out.
Dansby Swanson was seen by big brains like me as the fourth best of the four great shortstops available on the free agent market. He’s turned out to not only be the best buy of those shortstops1 but the most productive one. He’s also the youngest. Clearly, this signing has worked out really, really well so far. Good job by you, Jeddy!
Cody Bellinger got a one-year “pillow” contract from the Cubs with a mutual option for next year that would only get picked up if he got hit by a trolley car or something. I loved the Cubs taking a shot at turning a former MVP’s career around, especially since the cause of his struggles were injuries. I didn’t love that the Cubs only required Cody to sign for one year. He’ll only be 28 next season. The Cubs should have had the confidence in their own efforts to help him get on track to require a second year at a decent price, say $20 million. He’d still hit free agency again under 30. But they didn’t, and while the Cubs will act like they’re going to make a competitive offer for him, they’ve boxed themselves in with no-trade deals for their underperforming corner outfielders for the next three years. Because Bellinger can play first, it shouldn’t matter. But you know they’re going to let it matter.
Jameson Taillon parlayed a 14-5, 3.91 ERA final season with the Yankees into a four-year $68 million deal with the Cubs and he’s been… Well, mostly bad. He didn’t win his first game until June 9, he has one win against a team with a winning record (he beat the Reds on August 3 and pitched five innings). It’s becoming pretty obvious why even though the Yankees played nine playoff games last year that he didn’t pitch in any of them.
Michael Fulmer got one-year, $4 million to be the Cubs closer and he lost that job before the trees began to bud. However, since May 28 he’s been one of the best relievers in the National League, with a 1.83 ERA, 37 strikeouts in 34 innings and opposing batters are hitting just .175/.278/.290 against him. Plus, his failings allowed Adbert Alzolay to snag the closer job, and since Adbert did that he’s thrived - 17 saves in 18 attempts, 2.25 ERA, 41 K’s in 40 innings and five walks. So, win-win. Or win-save. Whatever.
Brad Boxberger signed for one-year, $2.8 million and managed 17 awful appearances (5.52 ERA, nine walks, 13 hits in 14.2 innings with three homers allowed). He might return before the end of the season. That seems like more of a threat than anything else.
Edwin Rios was released by the Dodgers last offseason and got to pick the best fit for himself and he chose the Cubs because they promised to get him regular at bats at first, third and DH. And, then they didn’t. In two different stints with the Cubs he got a whopping 28 at bats, and two hits! The Cubs put him on waivers in Iowa to open a 40 man roster spot before the trade deadline, and you'll be shocked to know that he cleared waivers and is still playing for Iowa.
Julian Merryweather was released by the Blue Jays (much to the confusion of Boog Sciambi—as he reminds every time “Jerry” pitches) this offseason and he signed with the Cubs. He’s been mostly good, after a terrible start to the season. He gave up five runs to the Brewers (the Brewers!) in his first appearance on April 2, and he was still sporting a double digit ERA six appearances later. But since May 27 he’s got a 2.86 ERA and has struck out 49 in just 34.2 innings. But, even during this run of good pitching he still walks too many guys (20) and has allowed 29 hits, and four homers, including a homer to Luis Robert that is still orbiting Lake Michigan. So, when Boog says, “I can’t believe the Blue Jays released his guy…” That’s why.
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