The Major League Baseball season will come to an end this week and once the last out of the Series is recorded the off-season officially begins and all 30 teams will start preparing for next season … and beyond.
The Cubs’ front office will continue to focus on finding a new manager while addressing the coaching staff and player personnel.
Scott Baker, Kevin Gregg, Matt Guerrier and Dioner Navarro will officially hit the free agent market after the Fall Classic which will open three spots on the 40-man roster. The Cubs will use those three spots to activate Kyuji Fujikawa, Arodys Vizcaino and Mat Gamel from the 60-day DL. All teams must reinstate players on the 60-day DL within five days of the conclusion of the World Series. The Cubs currently have three spots open on the 40-man roster, and must file their reserve list to protect players from the Rule 5 draft in December by November 20.
Once the Series wraps, the Cubs are expected to ask the Red Sox for permission to formally interview Torey Lovullo. According to Ken Rosenthal, A.J. Hinch and Rick Renteria will receive second interviews this week. And the front office is expected to meet with Eric Wedge in Chicago on Tuesday about the managerial opening.
The third year of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer led front office is underway, and it should be an interesting 15 days leading up to the GM Meetings for the Chicago Cubs.
Updating the Skipper Search
A.J. Hinch and Rick Renteria will reportedly have their second interviews for the Cubs managerial position during the upcoming week. Hinch was the first candidate to talk to the Cubs about the job while Renteria is believed to be the third.
Rick Renteria continues to make headlines with at least two teams thought to be interested in hiring him this off-season. Most think Renteria is the favorite for the Cubs’ job and Jon Heyman feels the Cubs might be his best shot at landing a big league skipper’s gig. Members of the Cubs’ front office have made two different trips to San Diego to interview Renteria and will speak to him again in the coming week. It is unclear if the Cubs will make a third trip to talk to Renteria or if he will make the trip to Chicago. Renteria had hip surgery three weeks ago that prevented him from traveling. Seattle is thought to be very interested in Renteria as well and the Padres are having internal conversations on which way they will go to fill Renteria’s spot on Bud Black’s coaching staff. Ken Rosenthal reported on Saturday morning if Renteria get the Cubs’ job, the Padres could slide Brad Ausmus, Dave Roberts or Glenn Hoffman into his vacated position on Black’s staff.
While the Cubs have yet to formally speak with Torey Lovullo, he appears to be high on their list. Lovullo is seen as a future big league manager, has an excellent reputation and there is a familiarity from his one season in the Red Sox organization with Theo Epstein.
Torey Lovullo could check several of the boxes for the Cubs and from the report in FanGraphs, he seems to have similar philosophies as the baseball operations department.
It is unknown if the Cubs have interest in speaking with Manny Acta and Dave Martinez for a second time.
The name of the second mystery candidate has yet to surface and there are rumblings that the Cubs could have more than just one more name on their list of managerial candidates.
Arizona Fall League
While there will not be any big league baseball on television next weekend, there will be a lot of interest in the AFL All-Star game. Kris Bryant and Albert Almora are expected to play on the East All-Star team.
Two of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system have not disappointed in Arizona this fall.
Kris Bryant did not play on Saturday. Bryant led the AFL in home runs (4), doubles (6), slugging (.905), OPS (1.373), runs scored (16), runs driven in (14) and total bases (38) entering league play on Saturday. Bryant has four walks in 10 games with a .429/.468/.905 line.
Albert Almora hit third for the Solar Sox on Saturday and went 0-for-4. Almora has cooled down a little after a hot start and is hitting .297/.333/.541 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, two walks and nine RBI with a .874 OPS.
Jorge Soler returned to the team after dealing with residency issues and is no longer stuck in the mud. Soler went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored on Saturday and was 5-for-8 in his first two games back with a home run and four RBI. Since returning to the team, Soler is 6-for-12 with a home run, a double, four RBI and three runs scored. So far this fall, Soler is 14-for-47 in 10 games with four doubles, one home run, one walk, eight runs scored and nine RBI (.298/.313/.447/.759).
Wes Darvill got the start at third on Saturday and went 1-for-3 with a double and a RBI. Darvill has played second, third and right field in six games for the Solar Sox and his hitting .263/.333/.474 with one double, one home run, two walks and five RBI (.807 OPS).
The four Cubs pitching prospects in Arizona have had mixed results so far.
Dallas Beeler is 2-0 in three starts with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. In 10 innings, Beeler has allowed six runs, all earned, on 13 hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Matt Loosen does not have a record in four relief appearances. Loosen has allowed one run on two hits over his last two outings (three innings) and owns a 3.68 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Loosen has walked only one batter with seven strikeouts and eight hits allowed in 7 1/3 innings.
After a tremendous start to the fall campaign, Armando Rivero has not been very good over his last four appearances. Rivero is 0-1 in six relief outings this fall with a 7.50 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP. In six innings, Rivero has given up 10 hits with two walks and five strikeouts … and three of the five strikeouts came in his first game of the season.
Lendy Castillo has been effective while struggling to throw strikes. Castillo has allowed four runs, one earned, on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts in five innings (1.80 ERA, 2.20 WHIP).
The Solar Sox are off on Sunday and resume play on Monday at HoHoKam Park against Salt River.