Cubs

Why Zach Britton no longer makes sense for Cubs team going in different direction with bullpen

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USA TODAY

Why Zach Britton no longer makes sense for Cubs team going in different direction with bullpen

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Cubs executives who checked out of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando on Wednesday had to ask the Baltimore Orioles again about Zach Britton. But any standard due diligence during the general manager meetings doesn’t mean Britton will follow Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis as the next All-Star rental closer at Wrigley Field.

Whatever window that might have been open probably closed right before the July 31 trade deadline, sources said, when the Cubs found Baltimore’s asking price to be too high, wondered if internal issues might prevent the Orioles from actually going through with a Britton deal and then pivoted to acquire their other targeted lefty reliever – Justin Wilson – from the Detroit Tigers.

To find a ninth-inning solution, the Cubs have identified options like converted starter/setup guy Brandon Morrow, who shut them down during the National League Championship Series and appeared in 14 of 15 playoff games for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs are also expected to monitor Addison Reed, who closed for the White Sox earlier in his career, pitched in pennant races with the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox and will be only 29 next season.

The Cubs still want to be in the loop with Davis, in case he isn’t overwhelmed with the kind of four-year, $62 million contract the San Francisco Giants gave Mark Melancon last winter and needs to find a good landing spot when so many of the traditional large-market, big-spending teams already have established closers or are in rebuilding/cost-cutting modes.

The Cubs also realize this a deep group of free-agent relievers who might feel the supply-and-demand squeeze this offseason. Even if it takes until January – weeks after the industry returns to Florida for the winter meetings – the Cubs can round out their bullpen later with short-term deals for established relievers who aren’t necessarily part of that top tier. 

No doubt, Britton is an elite talent, though a strained left forearm limited him to only 37.1 innings last season. MLB Trade Rumors projected he will make $12.2 million through the arbitration system in 2018, his last year before free agency.

The Cubs could justify giving up Gleyber Torres in the Chapman trade with the New York Yankees because they had a legitimate World Series contender and were near the end of the 108-year championship drought.

The Cubs saw Jorge Soler as a diminishing asset with limited opportunities to play at Wrigley Field and decided to move the Cuban outfielder in the Davis deal with the Kansas City Royals during last year’s winter meetings.

On all levels, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein doesn’t really feel that same sense of urgency for that kind of trade now.

Broadly speaking, Epstein said, “You definitely don’t want to make it a habit to give up five, six years of control for one year of control back.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: GM meetings takeaways

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: GM meetings takeaways

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson, Nate Poppen and Tim Stebbins discuss where the Cubs stand after the GM meetings, if the Cubs could get equal value back in a trade involving Kris Bryant, and how the Astros allegedly stealing signs affected Yu Darvish.

01:00 - Takeaways from the GM Meetings

03:00 - Addition of Andy Green as bench coach

07:00 - Adding Mike Napoli to David Ross' coaching staff

09:00 - Astros allegedly stealing signs

11:00 - How the alleged sign stealing affected Yu Darvish

17:00 - The Scott Boras circus at the GM Meetings

19:00 - The trade market for Kris Bryant

23:00 - Is Willson Contreras the most likley candidate to be traded this offseason

27:00 - Reliever Will Smith off the market

29:00 - Could Brandon Morrow be back in the organization in 2020?

Listen to the episode here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs expected to hire Mike Napoli — David Ross' former teammate — as quality assurance coach

Cubs expected to hire Mike Napoli — David Ross' former teammate — as quality assurance coach

David Ross will not only be managing former teammates with the Cubs in 2020, but he'll be coaching alongside one, too.

The Cubs are expected to add former MLB catcher Mike Napoli to Ross' coaching staff, per multiple reports. Napoli will assume the title of quality assurance coach, vacated by Chris Denorfia, who held the position for one season.

Napoli played in parts of 12 big-league seasons from 2006-17 with the Angels, Rangers, Red Sox and Indians. He won the 2013 World Series with Boston — alongside Ross and Cubs starter Jon Lester — and was also a key figure with the 2016 Indians, whom the Cubs defeated in the World Series. He finished his career with a .246/.346/.475 slash line with 267 home runs. 

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Cubs pursued Napoli last winter, though the 38-year-old wanted to take a short break from baseball before jumping into coaching. He'll join a Cubs coaching staff that is almost finalized, with the exception of one vacant base coach spot. Here's what the group looks like right now:

Manager — David Ross
Bench coach — Andy Green
Pitching coach — Tommy Hottovy
Associate pitching coach, catching and strategy coach — Mike Borzello
Hitting coach — Anthony Iapoce
Assistant hitting coach — Terrmel Sledge
Bullpen coach — Chris Young
Base coach — Will Venable
Base coach — open
Quality assurance coach — Mike Napoli

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the organization hopes to have the coaching staff finalized by the end of the week. With Napoli on board, the Cubs are one step closer to making that goal a reality.

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