Cubs

Cubs re-acquire Chris Coghlan, trading Arismendy Alcantara to Oakland

Cubs re-acquire Chris Coghlan, trading Arismendy Alcantara to Oakland

The latest twist in Chris Coghlan’s unpredictable career has him returning to the Cubs after Thursday’s trade with the Oakland A’s shipped out Arismendy Alcantara and foreshadowed Tommy La Stella’s move to the disabled list.

Coghlan, the National League’s 2009 Rookie of the Year with the Florida Marlins, initially signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs in 2014, worked his way up from Triple-A Iowa and eventually emerged as a key contributor to last year’s 97-win playoff team, hitting 16 home runs and playing all over the infield and outfield. 

But Coghlan became expendable when the Cubs re-signed Dexter Fowler in late February to play center field and be their leadoff guy. Coghlan got flipped to Oakland, where he’s struggled to find his left-handed swing, batting .146 with a .487 OPS in what was supposed to be a platform year before hitting the free-agent market.

Now Coghlan is an insurance policy for a 41-17 team that already has outfielders Jorge Soler (strained left hamstring) and Kyle Schwarber (season-ending left knee surgery) on the disabled list.

La Stella – a good role player who can handle multiple infield positions and provide a left-handed bat off the bench – strained his right hamstring during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Look for the Cubs to place La Stella on the disabled list before Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

After an initial burst of excitement in 2014, Alcantara never lived up to the “next Ben Zobrist” hype and didn’t have a clear path back to the big leagues in an organization stocked with elite position players. Alcantara was batting .264 with five homers, five triples, nine doubles and a .751 OPS through 53 games at Iowa this year.

Maybe the change of scenery will reenergize a 24-year-old switch-hitter/up-the-middle defender with a unique combination of skills that didn’t quite translate in Chicago.

Bryce Harper to the Cubs is so 2018, so let's turn our attention to Mike Trout

Bryce Harper to the Cubs is so 2018, so let's turn our attention to Mike Trout

Bryce Harper to the Cubs is, like, so 2018.

It seems more and more unlikely Harper will be looking for housing on the North Side of Chicago anytime soon, with several Cubs throwing cold water on the rumor in the last week, including Kris Bryant (though he also said he hasn't talked to his buddy in a couple weeks and claimed he and Harper never discussed where he might sign).

So let's turn our attention to the next big free agent crush that could occupy Cubs fans' attention.

No, not Nolan Arenado. 

Mike Trout.

Is it far too soon to be thinking about Mike Trout's free agency when he's still under contract with the Angels for the next two years? Of course. But this is the internet and this place was made for random, way-too-early thoughts and debates on interesting topics.

Bleacher Report came up with odds for which team would sign Trout in the winter of 2020-21 and the Cubs came in with the 8th highest chance (19/1 odds) of inking the game's best player to a deal. The rest of their list included the White Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, Yankees, Red Sox and Angels with better chances than the Cubs, but that all makes sense given the lofty spending habits of those teams and the financial flexibility of the White Sox. Even the Angels would have a ton of money then with Albert Pujols' awful contract about to expire after 2021. 

But focusing on just the Cubs' perspective on the matter, it'd be hard to see the team handing out what may be the loftiest deal in MLB history at that point in time.

Yes, the Cubs may have money, as only Jason Heyward and Yu Darvish have guaranteed contracts for 2021, but they also have $13 million in buyouts owed to Jon Lester ($10 million), Anthony Rizzo ($2 million) and Daniel Descalso ($1 million) even if they don't pick up the respective options of each player. So the team already has $58.5 million committed to the 2021 payroll and only two actual players on the hypothetical roster. Picking up the options for Lester ($25 million), Rizzo ($14.5 million) and Descalso ($3.5 million) would bring the grand total of committments to $88.5 million for only five players.

Then there's the matter of all the arbitration, which would include Kris Bryant's final year under team control and a contract that may well climb over $20 million for 2021. Plus, the final year of arbitration — and thus, the most expensive years — for Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell (if he's still around), Mike Montgomery and Carl Edwards Jr. (It stands to reason the Cubs would obviously like to retain at least a couple of those players beyond 2021, so they'd need to earmark money for the winter after Trout, too.)

Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ will all be in their second year of arbitration in 2021 and even David Bote would be in his first year of a non-rookie contract. 

So sure, the Cubs will have Tyler Chatwood's contract coming off the books after 2020 among other salary reductions, but every guy that we know could be on their roster in 2021 is slated for an expensive contract. 

Theo Epstein (or whoever's in his position two years from now) will have to focus an awful lot of resources on fixing a pitching staff that currently has only Darvish, Montgomery, Edwards and Kendall Graveman under contract for 2021. You know, unless the organization actually starts developing young pitchers through the system — something that has been the black eye of this front office in the near-decade they've been running the Cubs.

The Cubs' payroll will certainly undergo changes between now and then with the new TV deal and a potentially new CBA that may shake up free agency as we know it (especially after the last two winters).

Either way, it's two years out and so much can happen in two years.

Two years ago, many Cubs fans wanted their favorite team to land Harper and that only intensified all the way through the month of October last fall. Yet we've seen how that's played out.

But hey — Mike Trout is a free agent in November 2020 so...maybe? Or maybe not?

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Yadier Molina refuses to let go of Kris Bryant's shot at St. Louis

Yadier Molina refuses to let go of Kris Bryant's shot at St. Louis

Oh boy.

Kris Bryant is never going to want to go on the Ryan Dempster late night show at Cubs Convention again.

After Bryant's tongue-in-cheek comment about how St. Louis is "boring" from the weekend, Cardinals nation responded passionately, including catcher and face of the franchise Yadier Molina, who indirectly called Bryant "stupid" in an Instagram post.

But considering Bryant was just pandering to a room packed with thousands of Cubs fans who love to hate on the Cardinals, the St. Louis players would certainly chill out upon learning the context and cooler heads would prevail, right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

Molina was asked about his passionate response Monday and doubled down, saying he will not forget Bryant's comments and "it will carry [into the season]. I can't wait to get on the field." 

"St. Louis is home," Molina told reporters, including MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch. "If anybody says something bad about my home, I'm going to be there for us. I said to the guys, 'We are like a family. We have to stick together. We have to defend ourselves and we have to defend our ground.' Whoever says something about us, we are going to be there to defend us."

So Bryant's half-serious comment said in passing is now not only bulletin board fodder for the Cardinals but actually a rallying cry for the team to unite and come together right before the 2019 season?

Alrighty then...

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