Ghosts Will Be Around The Hot Stove

The sports world has been shaken up by death for the second time in just a few months. This time it is San Diego Padres Owner Peter Seidler. He passed away, somewhat unexpectedly, yesterday at the age of 63 after not being able to attend games in September due to a medical procedure he was having done.

Three seasons after he went on a spending spree which started at the beginning of the spring training in 2021 when A. J. Preller his President of Baseball Operations announced that the team was extending Fernando Tatis Jr. for 14-years and $340 million. Some, including my fellow writer here on Double Overtime Steve Leblang, think he wanted to spend his fortune because he knew of his health issues and wanted to see the Padres win a title before he passed way.

Moving on to the big hot stove news over the last week. Without a doubt, by now, readers of Double Overtime have heard that the Cubs made a change in the managers seat bringing Craig Counsell 90 miles south to Wrigley officially moving on from David Ross and most of his coaching staff. Personally, I saw the writing on the wall for this before the Mets failed to sign Counsell two weeks ago.

Did I think it would happen this winter? Absolutely not and I also did not think it would be a life-time Brewer taking over the reigns for David Ross. However, I think it was a much needed move to sell top free agents and those free agents behind them on the fact that the Cubs are ready to take that next step and win another title, and soon.

Especially considering the news that Craig Breslow was in talks to go take the top job in Boston and today it was announced that he will be leaving the Cubs front office. Breslow was the mastermind over the last few seasons that got the Cubs farm system back to being a top-ten system thanks to all the pitching prospects they now have.

Here’s the thing folks: The Cubs were spenders last off season then took the next step to keep a new core of guys early in the season this past season when they extended Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ to long term deals. This winter they are ready to spend and they needed to prove it to the players. Not only those that are guaranteed to return in 2024 short of, maybe, a trade but also all the free agents out there including Cody Bellinger and, yes, Shohei Ohtani.

Now, do I think they have the money to get both the guys I just named? You bet I do. Especially considering the fact that just yesterday news came out that Shohei is open to shorter term offers as long as the Average Annual Value (AAV) is what he is looking for which is believed to be $50 million or higher. This of course would mean that Jed Hoyer who is known to sign players to deals that are at most of seven years long. At the end of the day, where ever Shohei ends up I would not be surprised to see him sign a three to four year deal with a one year player option.

In the last few days news broke that the Cubs would be in the running to sign Cody Bellinger after he officially turned down their qualifying offer. He turned that offer down today. However, I am afraid that due to timelines and the Juan Soto trade rumors that have been floating around for at least three weeks now it is more likely the Cubs do what it takes to trade for Soto. Then make a serious run at Shohei before going after Yoshinobu Yamamoto who is the top pitcher on the market this winter behind Shohei who likely wont be on the mound again until 2025.

Soto is a corner outfielder. Which means Ian Happ may have  played his last game in a Cubs uniform unless Soto splits time with him in left. This would require the Cubs to pay up to bring Bellinger back either way because it would likely mean Christopher Morel heads west in the trade for Soto to make room on the roster.

This winter the Cubs should be the Mets and Padres of one year ago when the Winter Meetings hit in a couple of weeks.

With that… the hot stove is going to get really hot in about two weeks.

If you cannot play with them, root for them.

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