The Cubs stink and need to get better. The new CBA makes it really hard to get better via the draft and international signings. So it’s free agency or bust for Chicago. And they’re going into the market with their wallets open, reports Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We will have some financial flexibility,” Hoyer said. “We’ve been diligent about making sure that we do have flexibility and we’re efficient going forward. We’re obviously going to be active in the free-agent market. I don’t think there’s any question about that.
Mooney notes that, after years of crappy contracts on the book, they only have $40 million guaranteed to players next year before you figure in arbitration cases, and that leaves a lot of room for Chicago to operate.
Between there being several teams with a lot of money having big needs and the fact that everyone is getting richer with TV deals, I think this winter is going to make us feel like we’re back in the early 2000s, free-agency wise. And I don’t mean with top-ticket signings, because the real blue chippers aren’t on the market as early or as often as they used to be. I’m talking about middle class free agents getting big deals. Think Pat Mears with the Pirates and stuff.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.