Interest in Steven Matz was strong, with at least eight teams making offers on the left-hander before he chose to join the Cardinals for $44 million over four years. That AAV is right in line with projections, but most believed he would get a three-year deal and Jon Morosi indicated in a tweet that Matz had only two-year offers on the table. It’s reasonable to assume, then, that St. Louis upped the offer late to get their dude and round out their rotation.
We may never know how seriously the Cubs were involved here, though I’d wager they were not willing to go to a fourth year to get something done. It’s like being in an auction for something you really want and having a hard cap on your bidding, which Jed Hoyer has tacitly indicated would be the case this offseason. Rather than being limited by money, however, the Cubs are probably more wary of the duration.
Hoyer said during the introductory press conference for Carter Hawkins that the Cubs’ “next wave of success” would come from player development over the next 3-5 years. The team president has also spoken about how risk increases the longer a contract gets, particularly when you’re talking about a player in his 30’s. Put those concepts together and you can see how three years might be as far down the road as they’re willing to go on a deal.
That said, this may not be a situation in which the Cubs are going to be able to get what they want by hanging back and letting the market come to them. I’ve already written about how “intelligent spending” could actually mean getting aggressive and landing a pitcher or two ahead of the December 1 CBA deadline, but that might not be in the cards if the Cubs are entering these negotiations with take-it-or-leave-it offers.
It’s also possible that Matz wasn’t at the top of their board and that they weren’t willing to stretch for him in particular. They’re not among the teams reportedly in the mix for Kevin Gausman, who is expected to land well into nine-figure territory. Marcus Stroman won’t be too far behind and can probably be ruled out as well. From there, you’ve got Carlos Rodón and Jon Gray leading the way among the tier of pitchers the Cubs figure to be targeting.
Rodón would make a ton of sense if he’s willing to stay in Chicago on a prove-it deal, in which case the Cubs should throw a bunch of money at him for one year. There’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal and we’ve already seen other power pitchers going short, so this is possible if other teams are scared off by the lefty’s injury history.
His velocity dropped off big-time in his last start of the regular season before bouncing back near triple-digits against the Astros in the playoffs, though not getting a qualifying offer from the White Sox was a little strange and surely raised some red flags. While the potential is big, the downside of a multiyear Rodón deal may be viewed as greater than any other pitcher in this group.
Yusei Kikuchi is another option if you like left-handers with good velocity, plus he might not command more than two years. I still expect the Cubs to make a move in the next week, so we’ll keep following this front as closely as possible through the holiday weekend.
Mets just can’t stop being Metsy
Some Cubs fans were upset about the failure to land Matz because it seemed to display a lack of aggressiveness in the face of a very obvious team need. However, you’re not going to hear Hoyer whining about the state of the negotiations and it would be unthinkable for Tom Ricketts to tweet out his feelings about an agent. Ah, but when it comes to the Mets…
I’m not happy this morning . I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior exhibited by a player’s agent.I guess words and promises don’t matter.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 24, 2021
Joel Sherman of the New York Post subsequently spoke to Mets owner Steve Cohen, who explained that Matz and his agent had proactively contacted the Mets about coming back to take care of unfinished business. Maybe Cohen thought that meant the pitcher was willing to take a low-ball offer to return to New York.
1/Just talked to Steve Cohen on the phone. He was angered that the Mets were pursued by Matz and his agent — not vice versa — and told the NYM were Matz’s first choice, that there was unfinished business with the NYM and he wanted to return.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 24, 2021
Whatever the case, the Mets continue to be an absolute shitshow of an organization and their ownership — even before Cohen — could serve as tenured professors at clown college. They’re like the Bears of baseball, except they’re playing second fiddle to the Yankees and don’t have quite the same spotlight.
Other news and notes
MLB and the union have agreed to move the tender deadline up three days to November 30 in order to get those decisions done ahead of the CBA’s expiration. This keeps arbitration-eligible players from being in limbo in the event of a lockout and could even allow some non-tendered players to seek new teams prior to December 1.
Former Cubs assistant hitting coach Andy Haines has been hired by the Pirates as their hitting coach after serving in that same capacity with the Brewers for the last three seasons.
The White Sox have agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with Kendall Graveman, which ostensibly makes him the replacement for Craig Kimbrel. If, that is, the Sox end up trading Kimbrel as expected. They might also bring Ryan Tepera back.
Speaking of former Cubs relievers, Wade Davis has announced his retirement. The righty pitched for 13 seasons and won a World Series with the Royals in 2015 before helping the Cubs get to the NLCS for a third straight season in 2017. The 36-year-old finished his career back in KC after a disappointing tenure in Colorado, logging two saves in 40 appearances.
Fergie Jenkins is looking positively statuesque, literally.
Get ready 2022, I’m coming for you! pic.twitter.com/xLcSLFaRoU
— Fergie Jenkins (@fergieajenkins) November 23, 2021
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Walking in Staten by Pete Davidson, Big Wet, Marc Cohn, and Method Man. SNL isn’t quite the appointment viewing powerhouse it used to be and Davidson isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but my dude Laurence Holmes clued me in to this ditty and I have watched it several times since.
Walking in Staten pic.twitter.com/5JwlyYtG3E
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) November 21, 2021