Nats' third base coach Pat Listach would like to manage Cubs

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Throw another name in the ring. We first heard of his interest over the weekend, but Nationals third base coach Pat Listach reiterated to Bill Ladson of MLB.com that he would like to manage the Cubs.

“I would definitely like the job,” Listach said.  “But I have a job to
do here in Washington. If that job is available, it would be a dream
come true. When you bring a championship to that city and that team, it’s
a big deal.”

“It’s one of the elite jobs in baseball. When you
start talking about the Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers, that’s the
elite of the elite. Just to be considered is an honor. It makes me feel
good as a person that I’ve done the right things in this game that
people would consider me.”

Listach, who turns 43 next month, never played with the Cubs during his six-year major league career, however he managed or coached for nine seasons in the team’s minor league system. He compiled a 253-221 record over three-plus seasons as a manager, including winning the PCL’s Manager of the Year Award with Triple-A Iowa in 2008. This is Listach’s second season as Washington’s third base coach.

Listach has a very impressive resume, but he’ll have to beat out interim manager Mike Quade, Fredi Gonzalez, Ryne Sandberg and Bob Brenly, among others, for the post. It won’t be easy. You don’t need me to tell you that the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Whoever can break that streak will be a hero in the city forever, so there’s endless appeal to the gig.  

Six of seven players decline $17.9 million qualifying offers

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Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only one of seven eligible players to accept his $17.9 million qualifying offer. Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, and Dallas Keuchel each rejected his, officially making them free agents. Teams that had their QO’s rejected will recoup a draft pick once the player signs elsewhere.

That Harper rejected his QO comes as no surprise, as he is expected to strike perhaps the largest free agent contract in baseball history. Though the free agent market has been less lucrative lately than in previous years, the combination of Harper’s elite talent and his age — he’s only 26 years old — makes him a primary target for more than a handful of teams. Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension offer from the Nationals, so that would seem to be a baseline.

It is also not surprising that Kimbrel, 30, turned down his QO from the Red Sox. Despite a so-so showing during a championship run, Kimbrel is still young and talented enough to land another lucrative contract on the free agent market.

Keuchel bet on himself in turning down the Astros’ QO. He’s been solid since winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, owning a 3.77 ERA across 83 starts over the last three seasons. However, he turns 31 years old at the beginning of 2019, and his already mediocre strikeout rate declined even further this past season, so there may be some skepticism about his ability to perform over the course of a multi-year deal. Keuchel will still get one eventually, but his market may be slower to develop.

Pollock, soon 31 as well, will be the outfielder most coveted once Harper is off the market. When he’s healthy, he’s a dynamic five-tool player. However, Pollock hasn’t played in more than 113 games in a season since 2015, so that may be a red flag. Pollock ended 2018 batting .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs, 65 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 460 plate appearances while playing above-average defense according to various defensive metrics.

Grandal, 30, could’ve gone either way with his QO, but ultimately chose to decline. He had a disappointing postseason, both offensively and defensively. Given how humans are prone to recency bias, it stood to reason that his October performance could have hurt his market. The catching position, however, is rather weak and Grandal stands out in a market that is otherwise focused on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Grandal did swat 24 home runs with an .815 OPS in 140 games for the Dodgers this past season.

Corbin, 29, was the most obvious QO decline after Harper. The lefty is coming off of a career year, finishing with a 3.15 ERA and a 246/48 K/BB ratio in exactly 200 innings. Corbin is the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. The Yankees have been seriously linked with Corbin even before the season ended.

Ryu likely chose to accept his QO because of his age and injury history. It would have been a gamble to pursue a multi-year deal. He did, however, make 15 starts during the regular season to the tune of a 1.97 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 15 walks in 82 1/3 innings. Those are great numbers. And most clubs would have been smart enough to look beyond his 5.21 ERA in the postseason, which has more to do with a leaky bullpen than his own personal failings. Still, it’s hard to fault Ryu for playing it safe and taking the guaranteed $17.9 million for one year.