My fellow writer Steve Leblang wrote an excellent piece earlier today about the Los Angeles Dodgers signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto yesterday. They have spent over $1 billion in the last three weeks on pitching and, of course, the only two way player to ever play in anyone’s lifetime thanks to the Universal Designated Hitter rule which was added following the 2021-2022 MLB Lockout.
Sadly thanks to the Dodgers stealing headlines approximately every eight days there has been very little movement with other top free free agents and it now looks more likely the Mets will trade First Baseman Pete Alonso. It also is looking more likely that the baseball world will see a reunion occur in Chicago between the Cubs and Cody Bellinger.
Why will there be a reunion you ask? Simple, the New York Yankees were favorites a to sign Bellinger a few weeks ago. However, they quickly made a trade with the San Diego Padres for Juan Soto earlier this month so now they are looking to fill other holes according to many reports.
At the end of the day the implosion of the regional sports broadcasting deals earlier this year paired with the sudden passing of San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler in the last couple of months has caused this years MLB Hot Stove to move awfully slow once the doors opened for teams to start signing available free agents.
It is Christmas weekend and many teams including my beloved Cubs still have not signed any big name free agents. It is rumored that the reason teams are being slow to spend this winter is a result of the Bally Sports implosion and as more time passes I am starting to believe it more and more because it was rumored going into the Winter Meetings that Bellinger was asking for $300 million and as recently as today I saw rumors bringing his asking price back down to $230 million.
Here’s the thing folks: There is no doubt in my mind that Jed Hoyer was absolutely talking to the agents for both Ohtani and Yamamoto. However, he has said many times over the last few years that he does not like signing players to deals longer than a few years. So there was no way he was going to request meetings with either of them when they were both looking for mega long-term deals. This is clear now that they are both signed and will retire together in Dodger, not Cubbie, blue and all the other teams they were talking to had offered the same ten and twelve year contracts.
Now, let’s take a serious look at what Hoyer could still do to make this winter a successful one because he cannot expect fans to be happy with the curveball he threw replacing David Ross with Craig Counsell one month after saying David would be back in 2024. It would not surprise me at all if Bellinger returns before new year and Hoyer then makes a flurry of moves including bringing Alonso to Wrigley before mid-January.
Hoyer cannot expect true fans like myself to believe that he was listening to us through the media if he does not start filling some of the glaring holes the team has… including but not limited to first base, center field, and that fifth starter role after Stroman walked. Don’t misunderstand me folks Pete Crow-Armstrong is great on defense but he has yet to get a hit in the big leagues and Patrick Wisdom is not that great with the bat. Also, it has gone largely unnoticed by many over the last month but the Cubs non-tendered Codi Heuer who was supposed to be their future closer a month ago.
With that… let the hot stove start burning more coal and heating up!
If you cannot play with them, then root for them.