Cubs

Cubs: David Ross confirms he will retire after 2016

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Cubs: David Ross confirms he will retire after 2016

MESA, Ariz. - On the day of the Cubs' first official workout, David Ross confirmed 2016 would be his last season as a player.

It wasn't exactly a bombshell or a surprise, given Ross is in the final year of his deal with the Cubs and he's been hinting at retirement for a little while now.

"It's time," Ross said. "I don't want to be that guy that stays at the party too long. It's time to get kicked out of the party."

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Ross will turn 39 during this spring training and admitted he doesn't know what he's going to do after his playing career. He wants to stick in baseball, but deflected with a joke when asked about a possible mangerial career - "If somebody gives me a manager job, they'd have to interview me first and see what an idiot I really am."

On many levels, Ross is already a coach, using his 14-plus years in the majors to help all the young players acclimate to life in The Show.

And he's always down for a good time, which he proved again Friday night with Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward:

 

 

"I made a joke," Ross said, "saying we should go into Dick's and act like we were buying all our stuff and Rizzo's like, 'Let's do it!' So I was like, 'Alright, I'll let the kids have some fun at my expense.'"

The veteran catcher knows his place on this team, which now has World Series expectations after Ross and Jon Lester helped Joe Maddon change the culture in the clubhouse last season. 

Maddon spoke highly of Ross' influence in the locker room:

"In spite of not hitting .275 or better, he still creates this stature or maintains this stature in the clubhouse because of the respect people have for him about how he goes about his business," Maddon said. "And then when he says something, it's pertinent, it's right on.

"I really don't care what he hits batting-average-wise. His job is totally different. Whatever he hits is gravy for us. I love what he does. How well he interacts with Jon Lester and all the other stuff that he does for the team. It's almost immeasurable. It's that important."

Ross said he and new starter John Lackey - who is 37 - exchanged texts when Lackey first signed with the Cubs, saying they wanted to give it one last "whirl" at a championship before hanging 'em up.

"This isn't about me," Ross said. "There's so much good going on here. I don't think it should ever be about the backup catcher retiring that's a career .220 hitter.

"Listen, if it's about me, we're in trouble. There's none of that - this last this, this last that. I look forward to this ride.

"I need to prepare myself so I'm not the weak link on this team. I wanna be a guy that contributes to this team. I wanna have the best year that I possibly can to fit in with this group that's super talented."

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While Ross said he hasn't given much thought to life after his playing career, he did admit he has a few things on his bucket list for 2016 beyond a World Series.

He wants to take in everything he can, experiencing the moments and seeing the sights on road trips. He also said he will write down some of his thoughts, something he started this offseason.

Ross is entering his 15th year in the big leagues and has never entered spring training on a minor-league deal or as a non-roster invitee, an area he admitted he takes some pride in.

A reporter asked Ross if he will go out like Peyton Manning (assuming the Super Bowl-winning quarterback does, indeed, call it a career), but the Cubs catcher again deflected with a self-deprecating joke:

"When you're the backup catcher with a .200 average," Ross said, "I think it's more like 'Let's just get this guy out of the game. We'll move him on, next guy.'"

Nationals 'love' Kris Bryant but potential holdup could stymie trade talks

Nationals 'love' Kris Bryant but potential holdup could stymie trade talks

With Anthony Rendon officially joining the Angels, the Nationals have a vacancy at third base.

Washington has options to replace Rendon; Josh Donaldson is still available in free agency, and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant could potentially be had via trade.

The Nationals have reportedly inquired with the Cubs about Bryant, and while they “love” the 27-year-old, their focus is on Donaldson, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The Cubs would likely seek center fielder Victor Robles in a deal, a holdup on Washington's end, Heyman said.

From the Cubs perspective, it would make all the sense in the world to ask for Robles. He’s 22 years old, plays excellent defense (22 DRS in 2019, No. 1 in MLB by center fielders) and is only scratching the surface as a big-leaguer. Robles is projected to be a star, but Bryant already is one. If the Nationals want Bryant badly enough, they’ll have to sacrifice talent in a deal.

On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why Washington would be unwilling to trade Robles, who's under team control through 2024. Bryant will hit free agency after 2021, but if he wins his ongoing grievance case, he'll hit the open market after next season.

Nonetheless, if the Nationals do engage in Bryant trade talks, you can bet the Cubs will at least ask for Robles in return. A trade could be worked out without him, but for a Cubs team searching for better center field production, you've got to wonder who could be more enticing than Robles.

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Willson Contreras and his boundless energy join Cubs All-Decade Team

Willson Contreras and his boundless energy join Cubs All-Decade Team

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

It didn’t take long for Willson Contreras to introduce himself to Major League Baseball. On the first pitch he saw as a big-leaguer, the Cubs catcher cranked a two-run home run to center field — on Sunday Night Baseball, nonetheless.

That moment was a sign of things to come for Contreras, who has since established himself as one of the best catchers in baseball. The 27-year-old holds a career .267/.350/.470 line with a 117 wRC+ and 67 home runs in four seasons. He’s started back-to-back All-Star Games, the first Cubs catcher to do so since Gabby Hartnett (1937-38).

Contreras offers so much to the Cubs besides his bat. His cannon of an arm and athleticism behind the plate are integral to the Cubs controlling opposing run games. His pitch framing is a work in progress, and admittedly, he could improve in this area by throwing behind runners less, ensuring he gets strikes called.

However, back-picking is part of Contreras’ value. He may lose some strike calls by not sticking a frame, but there've been plenty of occasions where Contreras' arm has provided the Cubs with a spark. His boundless energy is unmeasurable, but its importance to the Cubs — who feed off of it — cannot be overstated.

There are areas where Contreras can improve, and that's a scary thought. But he's already is one of the best backstops in baseball and has earned the starting catcher spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team.

Also considered: Welington Castillo, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Geovany Soto