Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs and free agent infielder Jason Kipnis have reached an agreement on a minor league contract. Kipnis will be a non-roster invitee to spring training. If he makes the big league roster, he’ll earn a $1 million salary and can earn more through performance incentives.
Kipnis, 32, had spent all nine years of his major league career with the Indians. Injuries and age have slowed him in recent years. Last season, he hit .245/.304/.410 with 17 home runs and 65 RBI across 511 plate appearances.
The Cubs did basically nothing during the offseason, so signing Kipnis to a minor league deal counts as a big splash for them. Assuming Kipnis makes the Opening Day roster, he will help hold the fort down at second base until prospect Nico Hoerner is deemed ready.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.