Did a bus just run over the off-season efforts of Cubs president Jed Hoyer?

Did a bus run over Jed Hoyer and the Cubs in the off-season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Midway between the two biggest turkey holidays of the year, the baseball winter gatherings are perfectly timed as a reminder that there are never enough leftover birds to bridge the gap.

That’s why for the true bird lovers of the season, it’s always a good idea to get a second turkey after Thanksgiving, a tradition that has been embraced and passed on in these parts, at least as long as the Cubs have embraced their own tradition of refueling when the going gets tough.

That makes this the double-bird period on the Gregorian calendar — and no one celebrates it on the baseball calendar like the Cubs do this year.

No? Did you see the double birds on a bat that Willson Contreras delivered to the Cubs by signing a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Cardinals to replace Yadier Molina – a fitting, even poetic, response to the Cubs’ gestures in his direction for the past year -plus.

It is in this vein, as we wait to find out if the Cubs will get Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson or both, that we present a special Double Birds edition of the Press Box Wag.

Did someone say Correa?

The Cubs could hit one more of their big shortstop goals and start a successful winter by just about anyone’s definition. However, if they don’t get one of the last two in that free agent pool, minor-leaguer Ben DeLuzio, the upward bet on Cody Bellinger and even the signing of $68 million Jameson Taillon won’t cut it. Especially if the statements contain more empty rhetoric about “smart spending.”

Without one of the big boys, it’s going to be a colossal, utter failure of a winter for team president Jed Hoyer’s Cubs. And after all those promises to be aggressive in free agency, that’s a double-bird feast for fans who have spent the past two years paying top dollar for the privilege of baseball famine during the second Ricketts tank job in a decade.

Did we mention Contreras?

Of all the gin places in all the cities… St. Louis? Really?

“I’m sure I made the best decision here. Everything just feels perfectly right,” the now-former Cubs All-Star catcher said while meeting with Cardinals media after signing that big deal.

Before anyone freaks out about Contreras for allegedly sticking with the Cubs with that decision, just think how badly the World Series-winning catcher said he wanted to stay, the crickets he’s heard over the last four years when it came to renewal offers , the Cubs’ willingness to take him to a mid-season arbitration hearing in his senior year (to an 11-hour midpoint agreement), and the more than two years of trade chatter they engaged in, culminating in them meeting the trade deadline this year and giving him some tearful double goodbyes with Wrigley Field fans.

That’s as double as it gets.

And from where the PBW sits, you don’t need to root for the new team to root for the player.

Speaking of ex-cubs

It’s been over a month now, but Kyle Schwarber has continued to feast on double birds (not to mention double All-Star appearances) since he was not tendered by the Cubs two winters ago when they feared a “biblical short-term pandemic losses and started cutting payroll.

His six home runs helped bring the starting Phillies within two games of its second World Series championship – after 46 in the league during the regular season.

For those scoring at home, that’s nine home runs for Schwarber in 28 postseason games for two teams (including Boston) since the Cubs’ worst move during the two-year roster cleanse — after hitting six in 24 postseason games for the Cubs.

And since then, the big-spending Phillies have added their big-ticket shortstop (Trea Turner), along with $72 million pitcher Taijuan Walker, to their pennant-winning roster.

RELATED: Why Cubs might regret Kyle Schwarber leaving the most

Hashtag Intelligent Spending

While it’s generally true in baseball that there’s no such thing as a bad one-year contract, it’s still a $17.5 million bet the Cubs placed on former Rookie of the Year and 2019 MVP Bellinger that he his All-Star production rediscovered after a trio of games. year-long downward spiral with a .203 average, .648 OPS, and 1.2 total bWAR in 295 games—enough that the Dodgers released Bellinger rather than similarly pay him via arbitration.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers partially filled in with another former All-Star outfielder who had been released by a team he had recently helped win a championship, earning Jason Heyward a minor league deal and invitation to major league camp.

Over those same past three seasons, Heyward batted .224 with a .667 OPS and 1.2 total bWAR in 202 games.

But that’s not even the double bird part.

It’s this: By releasing Heyward with one year left on his contract, the Cubs will pay about $40 million for both players in 2023 – the Dodgers on the hook for just the major league minimum if Heyward makes it to the club.

Season of giving

Shout out to the White Sox across town for winning baseball’s annual philanthropic award, named after former Commissioner Bud Selig, for their work and programs in the community.

The Cubs were also among the five finalists for the award — which begs the obvious question: Does fueling qualify as philanthropy for this award?

A press box wag actually posed that question to some Cubs folks. (We’re still waiting for the answer.)

Was that a speed demon?

The go-big-or-go-home feeling for a Cubs front office that opened the off-season with a huge list of roster shortcomings has been cultivated and amplified by property ax man Crane Kenney.

The business ops prez repeated on the team’s main radio station on Friday what he said over the same airwaves throughout the season about Hoyer having “a lot of money to spend this year”, as opposed to last year when “he didn’t spend all the money” . the money he had last year because he didn’t see any trades that made sense to him.

Double birds? Could be.

Anyway, it sounded a lot like property/business operations throwing baseball operations under the bus after getting a lot of public heat in the two years since that financially driven roster breakdown began. Recall that only three top-level free agents remained unsigned (including starter Carlos Rodón) when Kenney spoke Friday on 670 The Score, which Kenney called the Cubs off-season in their “third inning” and then alluded to possible trades as opposed to Hoyer’s audience. expects to make its major acquisitions through a free agency.

And then this: “There’s no reason to think we wouldn’t be a playoff team this year.”

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