John Dennis of WEEI just reported that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has agreed with the Cubs on a five-year deal worth more than $15 million. This is a huge moment for the Cubs. Franchise-altering.
The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of this week. The Cubs and Red Sox still have to talk about compensation for letting Epstein go when he still had a year on his deal. As was reported last night, however, compensation is not expected to be in the form of a top major league player. Most likely it’s a minor leaguer.
The assumption is that Epstein will be both team president and general manager. That first title means very different things on different teams, so it’s not quite clear how much responsibility he’ll have or who else he’ll have to answer to at 1060 West Addison. But given that the Cubs’ issues are primarily roster issues, you figure that Epstein will be rolling up his sleeves and getting to work on that as soon as he hits Chicago.
The story of the Indians postseason cannot be told without talking about injuries to starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. They have forced Terry Francona to lean even harder on his bullpen than he otherwise may have and have cause the Indians to press rookie Ryan Merritt into service.
But Cleveland will be getting at least one of their starters back: Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway that Danny Salazar will be part of the World Series roster.
Salazar has not pitched since early September due to a strained right flexor muscle, but according to Callaway, Salazar is ready to throw 65-70 pitches in a game. That could mean a start, probably in Game 4 after Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Merritt was a possible Game 4 starter, but he could either pair up with Salazar in a tandem start or serve in long relief.
Cubs’ left fielder Kyle Schwarber missed virtually the entire 2016 season due to torn knee ligaments, but he has been working his way back to health more quickly than initially expected. Indeed, he has been playing for the Cubs in the Arizona Fall League, serving as a DH. Many have speculated that the Cubs will activate him for the World Series.
Today, at his World Series media session, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that reports from Arizona are good on Schwarber and that the he will fly to Cleveland to join the team after tonight’s game in Arizona. Maddon says the team will make a decision on activating him once he arrives. The Cubs have until tomorrow morning to set their World Series roster.
Our guess is that Schwarber will get the call and will serve as the DH for the Cubs in Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7 in Cleveland. If so, a lost season could very quickly turn into a storybook season for the Cubs’ young slugger.