Cubs

Take a look at the Cubs' ridiculously amazing World Series championship rings

Take a look at the Cubs' ridiculously amazing World Series championship rings

The banner went up on Monday night. Wednesday night the Cubs got their rings.

And they are really something.

The Cubs handed out the jewelry earned a few months back when the team ended its 108-year championship drought, and these diamond-packed rings are a sight to behold.

Take a look:

Here are some of the coolest details, as announced by the team:

"The Chicago Cubs World Series Championship Ring, designed and produced by Jostens, is made from 14-karat white gold. Its top features the traditional Cubs bullseye logo, masterfully crafted from 33 custom-cut genuine red rubies that are surrounded by 72 round white diamonds, all within a circular perimeter made up of 46 custom-cut, genuine blue sapphires. The bezel is surrounded by 108 round white diamonds lifting the Cubs logo to victory and signifying the end of a historic 108-year championship drought. Overall, the ring contains 214 diamonds at 5.5 karats, 3 karats of genuine red rubies and 2.5 karats of genuine sapphires.

"One side features the player's name set atop the iconic W Flag, which is created from 31 round white diamonds and a fire blue corundum understone that forms the 'W.' Silhouette images of Wrigley Field's bricks and ivy surround the flag and the player's number, which sits below the flag.

"The other side features the year 2016 above the iconic Wrigley Field façade and Marquee, displaying the message 'CUBS WIN!' A silhouette of the World Series Trophy sits below the Marquee with a large round white diamond set in the center, signifying the 2016 World Series victory. Two princess-cut diamonds flank the trophy, representing the team's two previous World Series titles. Wrigley Field's bricks complete the background.

"On the palm at the bottom of the outer band is the team's rally cry, 'WE NEVER QUIT.' On the inside of the ring is a custom triple arbor that features the local date and time the championship was won — '11-3-16, 12:47 am' — and the series scores and logos of the three teams the Cubs defeated on their epic journey to becoming 2016 World Series Champions. An image of the infamous goat representing a supposed franchise curse is included on the inner band."

That's right. There's a goat.

And how about this? The team is going to hand out 1,908 of these bad boys. Awesome.

ESPN to broadcast two of Cubs first four games in 2020

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AP

ESPN to broadcast two of Cubs first four games in 2020

It won't be long before baseball fans get their first look at the Cubs under new manager David Ross.

ESPN announced Thursday they will broadcast two of the Cubs' first four games in 2020: March 29 against the Brewers in Milwaukee (Sunday Night Baseball) and March 30 against the Pirates (3 p.m. first pitch). The latter game is the Cubs' 2020 home opener.

Ross worked as a color analyst for ESPN from 2017-19 before the Cubs hired him as manager in October. So, not only will his club be in the national spotlight early in the season, but his former co-workers will be the ones analyzing him as his managerial career kicks off.

The Cubs open the season on March 26 against the Brewers.

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Willson Contreras’ trade value just spiked, thanks to White Sox signing Yasmani Grandal

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USA TODAY

Willson Contreras’ trade value just spiked, thanks to White Sox signing Yasmani Grandal

This is the best thing the White Sox have done for the Cubs in years.

The White Sox made a big splash in free agency Thursday, signing catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract. Grandal joins the South Siders from the Brewers, where he played an integral role in Milwaukee making a second-straight postseason appearance in 2019.

Grandal led qualified catchers in on-base percentage (.380) last season, also posting career highs in home runs (28) and RBIs (77). He’s also an excellent pitch framer, tying for fourth in RszC (runs saved by catcher framing) among all catchers with 9.

Milwaukee’s payroll reached a franchise-high $122.5 million in 2019 and their farm system (No. 29 in MLB, per Baseball America) is lacking. How they replace Grandal’s production is a major question mark, which in turn is a win for the Cubs this offseason.

But besides plucking him from the NL Central, the White Sox signing Grandal early in the offseason helps the Cubs, who have important decisions of their own to make.

Although Cubs president Theo Epstein said to take any trade rumors with a “mouthful of salt,” multiple teams believe catcher Willson Contreras is available for trade. The Cubs need to retool their roster and replenish a farm system that has been depleted in recent seasons from numerous “win now” trades.

The Cubs and White Sox made the notorious José Quintana trade in July 2017, but it’s unlikely the two would have matched up for a Contreras trade. The Cubs need young assets; trading away young assets is the last thing the White Sox want to do as their championship window opens.

So, Grandal landed with a team that was unlikely to be involved in any potential Contreras trade talks. Grandal was the best free agent catcher; Contreras is the best catcher that can be had in a trade.

Other teams interested in Grandal — such as the Reds — can no longer turn to him in free agency. The Rays have made addressing the catcher spot this winter a priority, but they have one of MLB’s lowest payrolls each season. Signing Grandal wasn’t going to happen, but Tampa Bay has the farm system (No. 2 in baseball, per MLB.com) to make a big trade.

Contreras is the best catcher available — for the right price, obviously — so the ball is in the Cubs' court. They don’t get better by dealing their two-time All-Star backstop, but Contreras’ trade value is high. With Grandal off the market, it just got even higher.

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