Javier Baez had a breakout season for The World Series Champions and put it all together under the bright lights of the postseason. Baez showed all of the potential and what he is capable of at the plate, and on the bases, in the NLDS and NLCS. Baez earned the National League Championship Series MVP Award that he shared with Jon Lester.
Defensively, Baez was incredible all season and throughout the playoffs even in The Series when he was exposed at the plate by the Indians’ pitching staff.
Baez hit .273/.314/.423 with 19 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs for a .737 OPS in the regular season. And in the Cubs run to the title, Baez batted .265/.282/.412 with a .693 OPS (.318/.333/.500/.833 in NLCS).
Theo Epstein fielded several questions last week about Javier Baez and how the Cubs plan on using him in the field next season. Baez provides Gold Glove caliber defense at second base and third base and gives Joe Maddon an excellent backup at shortstop for Addison Russell.
Baez appeared in 142 games this past season. Baez played 62 games at third base, 59 games at second base, 25 at shortstop, six at first base and he even saw a little time in left field (two games). Baez lined up at second base in all 17 postseason games.
The Cubs plan on using Baez the same way next season as they did this year. Baez should get regular at-bats while seeing time at all four positions in the infield.
“We want that depth. We want the versatility. We want to be able to survive if one of our players has a longer term injury,” Epstein said on MLB Network Radio. “We want to not see any downgrade in our lineup day-to-day when we give players days off and when we have little 10-day DL stints here and there.”
“We want to be able to tailor our lineup on a given day not only to the other team’s starting pitcher but defensively for our starting pitcher and be able to move [Javier] Baez around as a defensive weapon where we think the ball is going to be hit.”
“You need that kind of depth. It takes more than eight position players that you like to get through a 162-game season. We are not going to compromise that depth.”
The Cubs know how much Javier Baez means to the team moving forward. And Maddon will continue to put him in the best situation to succeed and help the Cubs win games.
Cubs Pro Scouting Director
The departure of Jared Porter to the Arizona Diamondbacks left the Cubs without a pro scouting director. The Cubs are looking for the right person to replace Porter but the front office has been focused on building the big league roster for next season and has not hired a new pro scouting director.
Jed Hoyer told the Tribune the front office has thought about external and internal replacements for Porter but “during a time when we really need to be focused as heavily as possible on improving the Major League teams, we felt that probably wasn’t the right way to go.”
Hoyer said the front office will address the position “once things slow down, once the crush of the busyness of the offseason is over.”
RHP Corey Black is having a very good winter season in Puerto Rico. Black leads the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in saves (12) and has allowed two runs, one earned, in 19 games.
Black is pitching for Santurce and is 1-0 with a 0.45 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. In 20 innings this winter, Black has allowed two runs, one earned, on 10 hits with seven walks and 17 strikeouts.
Corey Black has excellent stuff. Black has struggled with his command and has simply walked too many batters throughout his career in the Cubs’ system. If Black has found the strike zone, and can do so consistently in the spring, he could end up helping the big league team next season.
Chesny Young has not slowed down in Winter Ball. Young is playing for Escogido in the Dominican and just keeps on hitting.
Young has played in only 12 games but is 17-for-42 with a double. Young has seven walks and four strikeouts and a slash line of .405/.500/.429 with a .929 OPS.
Chesny Young should receive a non-roster invite to Spring Training. And based on the way he’s played since the Cubs selected him in the 14th round of the 2014 draft, Young will grab Joe Maddon’s attention in Cactus League games.
The Cubs are one of the teams that have shown interest in Greg Holland this off-season. Even with the acquisition of Wade Davis and agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with Koji Uehara, the Cubs are believed to be interested in signing Holland.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Holland met with the contending teams that are interested in him during the Winter Meetings. The Dodgers are one of those teams. Holland may decide to sign with the team that gives him the best opportunity to close games. If Kenley Jansen signs with either the Marlins or Nationals and doesn’t return to the Dodgers, there would be an opportunity to close games for Dave Roberts.
Hank Schulman said that Holland’s agent, Scott Boras, is looking for a two-year, $16 million deal for his client. By all accounts, Holland’s rehab from Tommy John surgery has gone well and he is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The road to The World Series begins in the minors and Jason McLeod is proud to be part of Cubs’ title run according to a report from Phil Rogers.
• Eugene Emeralds GM Allan Benavides was named the 2016 Northwest League Executive of the Year.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the reduction in meal money from $105 to $30 a day is actually a net gain for the players because they no longer will play clubhouse dues. Rosenthal explained the MLBPA “estimates players will net an extra $6-7,000 per year because they no longer will pay dues.” The players will also receive better food and service under the new CBA.
• Anthony Castrovince explained how ‘The Santo Clause’ or no-trade provisions reshape the market.
• The White Sox are still set up for big trades ahead according to Bruce Levine. The Sox could still trade LHP Jose Quintana, 3B Todd Frazier, 1B Jose Abreu, OF Melky Cabrera and RHP David Robertson. Once Kenley Jansen picks a team (Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals), Robertson could be in high demand.
• The Rangers are looking for outfield depth. Texas has “shown strong interest” in Austin Jackson according to Tommy Stokke.
On a snowy Chicago day, here's a reminder of summer. pic.twitter.com/z1zjMmjMtU
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 4, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs signed free agent Stephen Fife
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Jason Hammel
2013 – Cubs acquired Justin Ruggiano from the Marlins for Brian Bogusevic
2013 – Marlins selected Justin Bour from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft (minor league phase)
2013 – Diamondbacks selected Marco Mateo from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Ian Stewart
2012 – Cubs selected Sandy Rosario off waivers from the Red Sox
2011 – Cubs granted free agency to Koyie Hill
2010 – Cubs released David Patton
2008 – Cubs granted free agency to Neal Cotts
2007 – Cubs signed free agent Kosuke Fukudome
2007 – Cubs granted free agency to Mark Prior
1999 – Cubs traded Manny Alexander to the Red Sox for Damon Buford
1999 – Cubs acquired Eric Young and Ismael Valdez from the Dodgers for Terry Adams, Chad Ricketts and a PTBNL. Cubs sent Brian Stephens to the Dodgers on Dec. 16 to complete the trade.
1997 – Cubs acquired Henry Rodriguez from the Expos for Miguel Batista
1994 – Cubs signed free agent Larry Casian
1988 – Mike Kickham, born
1980 – Cubs traded Jerry Martin, Jesus Figueroa and a PTBNL to the Giants for Phil Nastu and Joe Strain. Cubs sent Mike Turgeon to the Giants on Aug. 11, 1981 to complete the trade.
1980 – Cubs acquired Hector Cruz from the Reds for Mike Vail
1927 – Cubs purchased Johnny Butler from the Robins
1913 – Cubs released second baseman-manager Johnny Evers
1903 – Cubs acquired Mordecai Brown and Jack O’Neill from the Cardinals for Jack Taylor and Al McLean