Sticking with Heyman, who reports that people in the Cubs’ organization expect Lou Piniella to retire at the end of the season.
This would shock me about as much as the sun coming up tomorrow morning. The Cubs are on the brink of a massive tear-down, one would assume, and given how weary Piniella has seemed at times this year, it doesn’t seem like he’d be up for that even if the Cubs asked him to come back.
Heyman says Ryne Sandberg is the top choice to replace Piniella. This is something many have said and it makes sense. Heyman thinks that Sandberg could maybe use a year or two as someone else’s bench coach, but I’m sure why that would be the case. It’s not like he hasn’t managed — he’s worked up the ladder in the minors — and it’s not like he doesn’t know his way around Wrigley Field or the Chicago media. Indeed, I can’t think of anyone who would be better prepared to just jump right in than Sandberg.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.