The only move of any real note was the Tigers’ signing of righthander Tyson Ross to a one-year contract for a reported $5.75 million. Here’s the best reaction to that signing:
Between Tyson Ross & Matt Moore the Tigers should have one of the most dynamic young pitching staffs of 2013.— Dayton from Nebraska (@BravesAmerica) December 10, 2018
Remember when the Cubs showed some interest in signing Ross a year or so ago? In that time he’s gone from “could possibly be a fifth starter for a contender” to “the new Rodrigo Lopez,” an inning-eater on a rebuilding team.
Billy Hamilton signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Royals, which is good news for the Cubs since they don’t play K.C. this year. Hamilton somehow does better vs. the Cubs than any other team:
Hamilton career OBP vs. Cubs: .350
Hamilton career OBP vs. all other teams: .276
Meanwhile, the Cubs say they only want to “tweak” the roster:
The start of spring training is more than two months away, with the Cubs still looking for late-inning relief help, a middle infielder with leadership skills and perhaps a backup catcher.
Late-inning relief help, sure, they’ll need that with Brandon Morrow likely not ready for Opening Day. A veteran backup catcher has been on the radar for a while. Now, “middle infielder with leadership skills”? Don’t they already have a guy like that in Ben Zobrist?
I know what they’re thinking here: “A guy like that who can play shortstop.” I don’t really see anyone like that on this list of free agents, though. Here’s what they are really looking for, according to general manager Jed Hoyer:
Hoyer seems to feel as if only a tweak, such as the addition of an assertive reserve such as David Ross in 2015-16 and Jon Jay in 2017, could resurrect the Cubs’ presence in the NL.
“That’s something we felt we missed last year,” said Hoyer, adding that Ross, a special assistant, will spend more time around the team this season. “It was a miscalculation on our part. I think we felt like those things would take care of themselves because we had that group together for so long. And we probably realized that wasn’t accurate.”
I believe he’s right about that; the Cubs didn’t really have anyone matching that description on the 2018 roster. Remember Theo Epstein’s statement about the Cubs just thinking they could “turn it on” in September as they had done in 2015-16-17, and that didn’t happen? Maybe having someone like that on the club could have helped accomplish that. And the statement that Ross will spend more time around the team in 2019 is a good idea. Is it a precursor to Ross joining the coaching staff full-time after that? Only time will tell.
This is your thread for today’s Winter Meetings activity. As always, if the Cubs make any significant move there will be a separate article posted.