How the DH Conversation Impacts the Early Offseason, NLDS Highlights, Brewers Trades, and Other Cubs Bullets

Today’s installment of stuck-in-my-head is the instrumental ending from ‘Layla’ because I watched ‘Goodfellas’ …

•   It’s easy (and correct!) to say, generally, that the Collective Bargaining Agreement is going to hold up the offseason for a lot of teams and players. But it’s still useful to have periodic examples of what we mean. A great one developed over the past couple days surrounding the conversation about Anthony Rizzo maybe finding only very short-term offers out there in free agency, and thus whether the Cubs should try to slide back into that relationship. Rizzo, of course, is a first baseman. One of the best with the glove. On any team where he signs, he will be playing first base. For the Cubs, though, while it’s not the case that they would necessarily want to bet on Frank Schwindel definitely being better than Rizzo in 2022, it is probably the case that they wouldn’t want to PAY TOP DOLLAR to Rizzo to replace Schwindel and send him to the bench. If first base were the ONLY available consideration, the Cubs might very understandably prefer to go with Schwindel, and then take that $15 to $20 million saved at the position and spend it on a good starting pitcher. That’s likely a better overall value for the Cubs than Rizzo at first, Schwindel on the bench, and a league-minimum replacement-level starter in the rotation.

•   But that’s where the CBA comes in, and the presumption of a universal designated hitter. If we knew *FOR SURE* that the DH was coming to the National League, then the entire discussion of “what set is best for the Cubs” changes completely. In that situation, you know you’re going to need/want a huge bat (or rotation of bats) in the DH spot, which might wind up being a guy like Schwindel. So first base is more or less wide open – especially where you could get a good bat with a better glove – and that might make you want to figure out a way to bring Rizzo back. If he’s going to be undervalued by the market, and/or if his highest and best overall value is with the Cubs, well, then? Why not get a great deal on a guy who is already connected to the organization?

•   And since you MIGHT want to go that route if you’re the Cubs in a world where the DH is in place, might that not also impact your commitments – whatever the position – before the CBA is finalized? I tend to think the Cubs still could and should target some of their preferred short-term, high-risk, high-upside starting pitchers even before December, but the budget is the budget. So, the DH determination could actually wind up an impact even on the Cubs’ pitching decisions. And this is just one team! It says nothing about how this one team’s decisions about pitchers impact the markets for those pitchers, and the other teams pursuing those pitchers, and on and on.

•   So, in sum: while this example is about Rizzo and the Cubs, the broader point is the one to be underscored. Just one possible rule change – the DH in the NL – can have far reaching impacts on how teams might proceed in the early part of the offseason. (As for the actual situation discussed, I think it’s debatable what the right approach would be for the Cubs regarding first base if the DH comes into play. They have some other guys you might want to rotate through DH, even outside of Schwindel, but if Rizzo’s market just isn’t there, I could see there being surprising value. That’s what the Cubs should be targeting, and if it just so happens to be an old friend, well, that’s fine.)

•   The Braves did the Lord’s work to even the series with the Brewers 1-1. It was a 3-0 shutout on the strength of Max Fried dominance and

•   Obligatory mention of Braves leadoff hitter Jorge Soler, making for the FOURTH former Cubs player who has led off in this postseason (Soler, Tommy La Stella for the Giants, Anthony Rizzo for the Yankees, and Kyle Schwarber for the Red Sox). Clearly, the problem wasn’t that the Cubs could never find a leadoff hitter outside of Dexter Fowler – it was that they had TOO MANY leadoff hitters! CLEARLY! CLEARLY THAT WAS THE PROBLEM!

•   Game Three is Monday at noon Central in Atlanta, with (probably?) Freddy Peralta facing Ian Anderson.

•   Game Two of the Giants-Dodgers NLDS also tied things up at one, with the Dodgers blowing the Giants out:

•   Kris Bryant did make a stellar catch in the game in center field, though Mookie Betts may have had the even better outfield play:

•   That series heads to Los Angeles now, with Game 3 at 8:30pm CT on Monday night. Alex Wood against Max Scherzer.

•   The Rays are very publicly continuing to stump for the two-city plan, even amid the postseason:

•   On a more positive Rays note, a great story here on today’s Game 3 starter (who was acquired in the Willy Adames trade with the Brewers earlier this year):

•   There’s so much in there that is touching and fascinating, and it’s also just interesting to note that the Rays drafted Rasmussen in 2017 in the first round, didn’t sign him because his physical revealed he would need a second Tommy John surgery, so the Brewers got him the next year for a very modest bonus in the 6th round, and then the Rays specifically targeted Rasmussen later for a trade because they had wanted him all along. It’s also fascinating how much Rasmussen transformed, in-season, as a pitcher with the Rays – he went from a decent huge-strikeout-walk reliever with the Brewers to a really good huge-groundball-no-walk starter with the Rays. Clearly, the Rays knew what he COULD be, and then executed immediately on that transition. It’s kind of incredible, but that’s the Rays. If they want one of your fringe pitchers, you should be asking yourself how you’re misusing the guy …

•   Which shouldn’t be read as a shot at the Brewers for that trade, because obviously Willy Adames was stellar for them, and then they used the other piece of the trade, Trevor Richards, to acquire Rowdy Tellez, who was also fantastic for them … it’s almost like both the Rays and Brewers are really good at this stuff.

•   Nobody can hit this junk:

•   There’s an exclusive promo on the 49ers-Cardinals game today, where you can get 49-1 odds (get it?) from FanDuel. You can sign up here. Full details here.

•   DraftKings also has this one going on for any Week 5 Game:

•   Lonzo Ball had a night, and the optimism is swelling:

•   Hawks are back, Toews is back, and the puck drops in three days:

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