Lindor Said No, Bote Breakout Chance, Opening Day Opponent, Cardinals Vax, and Other Cubs Bullets

The Anthony Rizzo extension reporting has been discouraging – and Michael added another layer last night about various offers the Cubs have made – though the whole thing is a broader reminder that almost no deals have gotten done this spring across baseball. That shouldn’t be a surprise, given the pandemic and – more importantly, in my guesstimation – the CBA expiring in December. It’s gotta be a particularly difficult time to get on the same page. Still, I have been hopeful that with Rizzo and Javy Báez, the Cubs could find a way. Opening Day is in two days.

•   Last night, multiple reports surfaced that the Mets had made Francisco Lindor a best-and-final extension offer at 10 years and $325 million, a deal that strikes me as a good one for him and for players moving forward. But he reportedly said no. Not that I’ll begrudge a guy who wants to bet on himself, as it seems Lindor is willing to do if the offer doesn’t come up significantly:

Source: Lindor has made the Mets a counteroffer, $385 million over 12 years.

That is a slightly lower average annual value but a longer term and significantly higher total financial commitment.

Lindor already has told the Mets no their “best and final” offer of $325M/10 years.

— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) March 30, 2021

•   Tacking on two years and $60 million – his age 37 and 38 seasons – is a pretty significant counter to a strong offer by the Mets. Again, zero beef from me when a player wants to be aggressive, since he can hit up free agency after this season and see what’s out there for him. But do I think Lindor could get a $385 million guarantee in free agency next fall even if he has a monster season this year? I do not think that. I could be wrong – the top of the market keeps climbing! – but you’re talking about the largest guarantee ever, and by a good stretch (Mike Trout’s extension with the Angels guaranteed him $360 million). If the reporting here on all sides has been accurate, I think Lindor could be making a mistake.

•   Good line from David Bote here, which highlights the chance he hasn’t gotten yet:

Pinch-hitting is hard. Getting inconsistent at-bats as a backup is hard.

“I’ve also heard playing every day is hard,” Cubs second baseman David Bote quipped over Zoom Monday. @maddie_m_lee on Bote's latest opportunity:

— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) March 29, 2021

•   Bote, a 2012 18th rounder out of Neosho County Community College in Kansas, worked his way from an organizational utility guy to a prospect to a contributor at the big league level. The Cubs haven’t had as many deep scouting and development wins as we’d have liked over the past decade, but Bote is a clear win. And now he gets his shot to show what he could be if he were a full-time starter, information that will be very valuable to the Cubs in the medium-term, given all the looming possible departures. If Bote were to break out, the Cubs would head into the offseason feeling like they could have either second base or third base locked down, which would fundamentally alter how they perceive their needs. The best organizations have breakouts from guys like Bote – he turns 28 next week – almost every year, and you can’t know if you’re in those ranks now unless you give the guy a real chance.

•   Bote praises Nico Hoerner in the NBC piece: “I admire Nico so highly. As a person, as a friend, as a competitor, as a ballplayer. The guy works extremely hard. He loves the game. He’s such a good teammate. To have a guy like that to push you, to want to make you a better player, a better person. He’s my catch partner – just the friendship that we’ve been able to develop has been really fun.” The reminder in there is that, even as these guys compete for playing time and a certain role, they’re also rooting for each other succeed, whatever form that takes.

•   The Pirates announced Chad Kuhl as their Opening Day starter, so that’s who the Cubs will get for their opener. Historically, Kuhl has been … not good, but that’s kinda the deal with the Pirates roster this year. He also sports very pronounced splits, so you can expect the Cubs’ lefties to be eagerly awaiting Thursday. Place your early bets on a Joc Pederson homer.

•   That actually got me looking to see if any props were up yet for the opener, and they aren’t yet at Bet Rivers Illinois, but I did see the early line on the game, and it’s kind of hilarious:

Started looking at the early lines for the Cubs opener, and LOL – the Cubs are OBSCENELY large favorites for Opening Day thanks to (1) Pirates, and (2) Hendricks versus Kuhl. If you want an emotional hedge, Pirates at +190 is huge:

— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 30, 2021

•   Joc Pederson had a very good Spring Training:

Joc Pederson finishes Spring Training with a .378/.431/1.000 slash line. He could post an OPS literally HALF that and be a nearly league-average bat.

— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 30, 2021

•   Important stray note in this from The Athletic: the Shelby Miller opt-out may NOT be in April, as previously reported. So the rush to get him up to the big leagues may not be quite as urgent. He’ll be up at some point if he’s healthy, because he has looked so good and we KNOW eventually the Cubs will need innings.

•   Gets his hands in to barrel the ball … this is beautiful:

Nico Hoerner #STdingers

— Craig Hyatt (@HyattCraig) March 30, 2021

•   Joe Maddon gets his favorite reliever-to-warm-up back:

The Los Angeles Angels have bolstered their bullpen with a pair of veterans: right-hander Steve Cishek and left-hander Tony Watson have signed with them and should get some high-leverage innings.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 30, 2021

•   Teams and players will face this issue over the coming weeks – how do you get hesitant teammates to get the vaccine so that you can get over 85% participation and get protocols relaxed:

Interesting to hear manager Mike Shildt say today he's not certain #STLCards will hit 85% due to some potentially choosing against vaccination. Suggested it might be close. MLB has said it can't/won't force players to get vaccinated, but relaxed protocols are clear incentive.

— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) March 29, 2021

Extremely thoughtful take here from Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller on the vaccine and participation by teammates.

— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 30, 2021

•   At a personal level, I can only say that I will empathize with any player who can’t bring his family on the road with him because some of his teammates chose not to get a safe and effective vaccine. If that were me, I would be really pissed.