Cubs

The Cubs' main rivals just keep getting better and better

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USA TODAY

The Cubs' main rivals just keep getting better and better

Less than an hour after the Cubs finally made a move at the MLB Winter Meetings, GM Jed Hoyer held court with reporters and teased a potentially busy stretch of action around the game.

This week hasn't been filled with megadeals for the game's top players, but Hoyer was true to his word in that several free agents have gone off the board and it just so happens every team around the Cubs has improved their roster in the last 48 hours.

The Brewers added a decent bat to their lineup Monday afternoon and even if they probably paid a bit too much for Avisail Garcia, it's still an upgrade over their previous outfield.

Later Monday night, the Reds continued to fill out what is probably the best starting rotation in the National League Central, inking veteran southpaw Wade Miley to a two-year, $15 million deal.

Then, Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals found their fifth starter in the form of Korean left-hander Kwang-hyun Kim.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have yet to make a significant move, though there's plenty of offseason left and they figure to be more active on the trade market, not in free agency.

At the moment, the Cubs look like an inferior team compared to the Reds and Cardinals. Sure, there's still a lot of talent on the Cubs roster, but that was the case last season and they wound up winning only 84 games and eliminated from postseason contention with almost a week left in the regular season.

The Reds have added a much-needed bat (Mike Moustakas) and diversified their rotation with the acquisition of Miley. It gives Cincinnati a lefty on an otherwise-right-handed-heavy starting staff and provides depth by moving Tyler Mahle out of the rotation and either into the bullpen or the minor leagues.

Miley, 33, rejuvenated his career in the NL Central with the Brewers in 2018, sporting a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts. He cashed in on that success by signing with the Astros last offseason and wound up making 33 starts for the powerhouse AL West squad, going 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. He has typically done a solid job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, so his move to Great American Ballpark shouldn't be too much of an issue.

In 2018, Miley went 2-0 against the Cubs with a 2.45 ERA in two starts. Over his career, he has permitted just a .214 batting average against the Cubs (10 starts).

The Reds don't need Miley to be anything more than a No. 4 starter, since they already boast a powerful three-headed combo atop the rotation in Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer. Miley's addition is one more reminder the Reds are making a strong push for the division in 2020.

The Cardinals — the reigning NL Central champs — made it just a few wins away from the World Series this past fall and responded by re-signing veteran Adam Wainwright to the rotation. They added to that with the Kim move Tuesday with a two-year, $8 million deal:

Kim, 31, has spent his entire professional career in the Korean Baseball Organization, where he's worked almost exclusively as a starter. He went 17-6 with a 2.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 in 31 outings (30 starts) for the SK Wyverns in 2019.

He has a career 3.27 ERA in Korea and has steadily improved his walk rate in recent seasons. Kim would probably slot in as the Cardinals' fifth starter, behind Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson and Wainwright.

St. Louis still needs to find a way to replace Marcell Ozuna's bat in the lineup, but their pitching is in better shape now than it was to begin the offseason.

The Cubs insist they'd be comfortable heading into 2020 with a "status quo" roster, but they also desire major change in the clubhouse mix and will almost assuredly trade a player or two to help meet their short- and long-term needs. 

Despite the plan to potentially take a step back next season, Theo Epstein and Co. are not in the midst of a full-on rebuild and plan to be a contender in 2020 once again. But regardless of what their roster looks like, the Cubs should face some steep competition in the NL Central next season in what is shaping up to be a fascinating four-team race. 

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Cubs' Jason Kipnis sets up unique fundraiser for COVID-19 relief

Cubs' Jason Kipnis sets up unique fundraiser for COVID-19 relief

With baseball suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jason Kipnis is using some of his free time to help those in need.

Kipnis announced Thursday he's set up a Cameo account and will donate portions of the proceeds to coronavirus relief and medical workers. Cameo is a video-sharing platform where people can book personal shout-outs from celebrities, athletes, influencers and more.

RELATED: Jason Kipnis airs concerns over challenges players will face when MLB returns

The Cubs second baseman added supporters can request where he donates the proceeds.

Kipnis joins Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins in using Cameo to help those affected by the coronavirus.

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Kris Bryant's goal for his son, other trivia facts about Cubs third baseman

Kris Bryant's goal for his son, other trivia facts about Cubs third baseman

Based on his current trajectory, Kris Bryant will go down as one of the best third basemen in Cubs history. In five seasons, the 28-year-old has made three All-Star teams, won Rookie of the Year by a unanimous vote and taken home National League MVP honors.

As he continues adding to his accomplishments on the field, here are a few things you should know about Bryant off of it.

1. Bryant grew up in Las Vegas and played baseball with the Phillies’ Bryce Harper and Rangers’ Joey Gallo, dating back to when he was nine years old.

2. Bryant’s dad, Mike, played professionally in the Red Sox organization. As a minor leaguer, Mike received hitting instructions from Boston legend Ted Williams.

3. In high school, Bryant was named his graduating class’ salutatorian. But he passed the honor onto a classmate with a similar GPA because he wanted her to have the recognition.

4. Bryant married his high school sweetheart, Jessica, in January 2017. They started dating as sophomores and are expecting their first child this month.

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Mr. & Mrs. Bryant!! 📸: @j.annephotography

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5. Bryant took guitar lessons this offseason and said at his introductory press conference this spring that his kid will be a rock star. He noted that Mike will probably push the kid to baseball, though.

Maybe we'll see the first simultaneous rock star baseball player?

RELATED: Top 10 moments of Kris Bryant's Cubs career

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