Cubs

Quick thoughts on the Cubs and the new MLB labor deal

Quick thoughts on the Cubs and the new MLB labor deal

The next time the Cubs post the best record in Major League Baseball and make the World Series, they will have homefield advantage.

The MLB Players Association and MLB owners reached a new five-year tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement late Wednesday night and one of the main points of discussion is the news that the All-Star Game will no longer decide homefield advantage for the World Series.

That means 2016 was the final year under that rule, when the American League beat the National League, giving the Cleveland Indians homefield advantage over the Cubs, who led the majors with 103 wins.

But all's well that ends well as everything worked out just fine for the Cubs. 

In fact, not having homefield advantage actually helped the Cubs.

After dealing with the intense pressure from the fanbase and city at Wrigley Field for Games 3-5 of the World Series, the Cubs admitted they felt some of the pressure ease off when the series flipped back to Cleveland for Games 6 and 7. Then the Indians had to endure the nervous energy from their fanbase and city itching for a championship after a 68-year drought.

It also helped to give the Cubs the designated hitter, adding Kyle Schwarber (America's large adult son) to the lineup on a regular basis. It was Schwarber who ignited the championship-clinching 10th-inning rally.

The Cubs will enter next season as the favorites to win it all and repeat, meaning if they live up to expectations a second year in a row, they could be opening the 2017 World Series at Wrigley Field.

The All-Star Game rule also helps out Joe Maddon, who will manage the NL squad in 2017 and now doesn't have to worry about trying to win the exhibition game.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

While more information will come out and the "tentative" label will need to be removed, here's how else this new CBA will impact the Cubs:

Qualifying offer compensation

The qualifying offer system will still exist, but will undergo some major changes. 

Teams can still extend qualifying offers to players, but if declined, organizations will no longer receive a first-round pick as compensation and instead acquire a later pick in the draft.

That will no go into effect until after the 2017 season, however, meaning the Cubs will still receive a first-round pick if Dexter Fowler signs elsewhere after the "you go, we go" leadoff man declined the one-year qualifying offer.

Disabled list

The minimum time spent on the disabled list will move from 15 days to 10 on the new CBA.

That gives all teams the option of placing players on the disabled list and garnering an extra roster spot for just over a week instead of having to put a player on the shelf for more than two weeks at a time.

It will make things easier for Maddon's coaching staff and the Cubs front office when determining whether they should place a player on the disabled list or not.

Scheduling

Starting in 2018, the season will extend by four days to 187 overall as opposed to the 183-day regular seasons currently.

That will give each team an extra four days off during the season, reducing the grind of the schedule, giving players more time with their families during the season and a better chance to rest and remain fresh.

Maddon spent all 2016 ensuring his players got enough time off their feet and were "frisky" down the stretch, so an extra four days will only make that strategy easier for the Cubs manager.

Luxury tax threshold

The reported luxury tax figure for 2017 will be $195 million, up from $187 million this year. 

From there, the luxury tax will increase each season, going to a reported $197 in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021. 

The Cubs had a payroll north of $171 million in 2016 and have more than $93 million committed to only eight players (Jason Heyward, Jon Lester, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey, Miguel Montero, Jon Jay, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler) in 2017.

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ series win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, which capped off with yet another David Bote walk-off and a surprising performance from Tyler Chatwood. They also break down where this Cubs team is at as they get set to welcome the high-powered Dodgers offense into Chicago later in the week.

:30 – The Kelly Effect

1:00 – David Bote’s wild ride

2:00 – El Mago’s magic pays off for Cubs yet again

3:30 – Bote’s adjustments

6:40 – Chatwood’s big day

8:50 – What’s next for Chatwood?

10:10 – Lester’s return is right around the corner

11:30 – Cubs pitching firing on all cylinders

12:00 – Did Kap jinx Strop?

13:30 – Dodgers pose a big challenge for Cubs pitching staff

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

David Bote had to be feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

The Cubs were humming along in their quickest game of the season and two outs away from a 1-0 victory on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Wrigley Field. That was good news for him, because he had a flight to catch — doctors were inducing his wife, Rachel, and she was going to be giving birth to their third child that night.

Then Bote watched as Arizona's light-hitting outfielder Jarrod Dyson — he of 16 homers in 744 career games coming into the afternoon — sent a Pedro Strop pitch into the right-field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning to extend the game.

So Bote took things into his own hands.

Javy Baez led off the Cubs' half of the ninth with a double down the right field line, advanced to third on an error and then Willson Contreras was plunked by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley.

Up stepped Bote, who watched a curve for Ball 1 and then narrowly got out of the way of a 95 mph fastball ticketed for his left temple. Bradley came back with a curve for a strike and Bote knew what to look for, waiting on another curveball and hammering it through the drawn-in infield for the Cubs' 10th win of the season. 

Minutes later, Bote had bolted out of Wrigley Field, heading back home to Colorado for the birth of Baby No. 3.

Speaking of which, Bote's walk-off hit Sunday came exactly 36 weeks (a little over eight months) after his ultimate grand slam to beat the Washington Nationals...

"It's a grand slam baby and now it's another walk-off for him," teammate Anthony Rizzo joked.

This is just the latest chapter in the incredible story of Bote, an 18th-round draft pick who endured seven seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. He doesn't even have a full year of service time in "The Show" yet, but he's already proven he belongs and carved out a permanent spot on the roster before signing a 5-year, $15 million extension earlier this month.

"From the homer last year, there was a lot of pressure and he slowed everything down," Baez said. "He just keeps getting better and he knows he's got talent and he can do it. He's got a lot of confidence coming off the bench and he's been huge for this team."

This was Bote's 42nd career RBI and it was already his 4th walk-off RBI. That means nearly 10 percent of his career RBI have come via walk-off situation.

"It's nice. He's had experience early [in those situations]," Rizzo said. "You can't teach that. He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

This was only the 10th start of the season for Bote in the Cubs' 20th game, but he's found a way to stay sharp. 

After his 2-hit game Sunday, he's now slashing .295/.380/.455 on the season and showing off the adjustments he's made after hitting just .176 with a .559 OPS after that ultimate grand slam last year.

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