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Cub Tracks’ what’s the catch?

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Whit Merrifield, Jharel Cotton, and other stories

Maybe baseball fever can keep me warm
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Links are kinda thin on the ground today, like the grass — not much happened Saturday. Most of the talk was about new acquisition Jharel Cotton, who is in that Catch-22 position of coming back from injury and trying to prove himself. It would be a major major major major plus for him to do so, however the Kendall Graveman experiment (among other such incidents) suggests that it might be better if he landed before the number of missions increased.

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And:

Here’s today’s Cubs News and Notes. As always, * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome). {$} means paywall. {$} means limited views. Italics are often used here as sarcasm font.

Nov. 22: Second baseman Whit Merrifield has been an under-the-radar star with the Royals for several years, but the Cubs might try to bring him into the spotlight.

MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports that Chicago is showing “continued interest” in trading for Merrifield, who just completed the first season of the four-year, $16.25 million extension he signed with Kansas City at the beginning of 2019. Merrifield remains cheap even after signing that extension (he’ll make $5 million in ’20), and the Cubs could be in the market for a middle infielder to slot next to Javier Báez.

Merrifield, 30, continued to be an accomplished hitter at the plate (Major League-most 206 hits and 10 triples) and versatile in the field this year, logging 77 games in the outfield along with 82 at second base. He’s also a consistent contact hitter, which is a skill the Cubs generally lacked during their 2019 offensive struggles.

... veteran left-hander Cole Hamels doesn’t appear to be flying under the radar. Hamels’ agent, John Boggs, told The Athletic’s Jayson Stark that 14 teams have checked in on the 35-year-old.

Stark has heard from some interested teams that Hamels would consider either a one-year deal with a high average annual value, similar to the $23 million contract Josh Donaldson signed with the Braves last November, or a two-year deal larger than what J.A. Happ received from the Yankees ($34 million) last December. Hamels is also open to a three-year deal at a lower annual rate, Stark reports.

According to Stark, Boggs is making the case that Hamels’ overall numbers (3.81 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) were hurt by the lefty rushing back from an oblique strain. Prior to sustaining the injury on June 28, Hamels had a 2.92 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP. After returning from a five-week absence, he recorded a 5.79 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP over his final 10 starts.

  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider*): New Cubs hire Rachel Folden ‘Perfect person to cross this barrier’ as Lead Hitting Lab Tech in Mesa. “She had worked with (Justin) Stone’s Elite Baseball Training as a consultant and has implemented biomechanics and technology in her instruction for nearly a decade.” Rachel Balkovec is also breaking the plexiglass ceiling. “In 2015, Justine Siegal was the first female coach in MLB history, joining the Oakland A’s as a guest instructor for fall instructional league.”
  • Jordan Bastian (MLB.com*): Cubs land RHP Cotton from A’s for cash. “... Cotton has not pitched in the Majors in the past two seasons, but he comes with the stock of a once-promising prospect who still has age on his side.” Tim Stebbins adds to the bale. Brendan Miller spins it out. Mark Gonzales coats it in chocolate.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Cubs reportedly in on Korean Lefty Kwang-Hyun Kim. “Kim, 31, was an ace in the KBO this past year, and optimism that he could be a solid back-of-the-rotation type or quality reliever is justified.”
  • Dodger Blue: Andrew Friedman defends Dodgers’ decision to limit access to Jessica Mendoza & David Ross during 2019 season. ““For me, if someone is really involved in the front-office operation of another team, we don’t think it’s right to give them unfettered access to our players,” Friedman said.”
  • Jeff Agrest (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): Fox’s Thom Brennaman thankful for Cubs, though Cubs fans might think otherwise. “The former Cubs announcer will make his third visit to Soldier Field this season on Sunday, when he calls the Giants-Bears game on Fox.”
  • Cubs birthdays: Pete Noonan, Billy Rogell, Dave Hansen, Jeimer Candelario. Also notable: Joe Medwick (HoF).

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.