Giants star Carlos Rodón still answers Cubs rebuild question

SAN FRANCISCO — Before the tears start to flow again with real-life exchanges from Cubs fan favorites who were greeted with standing ovations in their final home game on Tuesday, take a moment to think about what it would take to redeem the Cubs’ much-maligned, beleaguered front office property.

It might not take as much as you might think. But it starts with extracting some of that big market money from the Ricketts family’s clenched fists that they haven’t loosened since the end of the 2020 pandemic season.

We therefore advise you not to hold your breath.

But if the Cubs wanted to get this latest multi-year roster purge trainwreck back on track with two key moves in an offseason — even after another ugly sellout of basemen like Willson Contreras — they should take a look. eye, if not a stroll, across the stadium this week in San Francisco.

RELATED: Carlos Rodón: The answer to the Cubs rebuilding question

“I’ll say this: Chicago holds a dear place in my heart,” said Giants starter Carlos Rodón, who just played his second All-Star Game in as many seasons for as many teams. “It’s the town where my wife and I kind of grew up together, grew up, had our two kids.

“So Chicago has a special part in my heart.”

The former White Sox third draft pick spent his first seven seasons with the South Siders, including a 2021 All-Star season after going untendered and signing with the club at a steep discount on a one-year contract. year.

When a three-week stint on the injured list in August for a sore shoulder contributed to some teams’ health issues as a free agent last winter, the left-handed pitcher signed a 44-year contract. million over two years with the Giants — then in the Giants’ first game after the All-Star break, he hit the innings threshold that allows him to return to free agency at the end of the season.

Most expect him to step aside and let agent Scott Boras use this 2022 season to make it a long-term deal, although Rodón said he couldn’t focus on that. now, even though “it seems so stupid” to say that, he said.

He’s not even sure he won’t be traded before Tuesday’s deadline, given the Giants went from some buyers to potential needle-threaders or sellers after a seven-game losing streak that they called it quits by beating the Cubs 4-2 on Thursday.

Reports from the past few days suggest the Giants have no plans to trade Rodón.

“All I know is that this game is a business, and I think the spirit of teams can change quickly,” he said in a lengthy chat with NBC Sports Chicago before the Thursday’s series opener. “And if we’re being honest, we’re sort of on the seesaw, in between. Are we going or not? I would like to go. But I don’t make the decisions.

At least until the end of the season.

Until then, he would just repeat “that Chicago is a special place for me; he has a special place in my heart, for my wife, me and my children. “We love the city. I love it. I like it there; and I like it here too.

“I will make that decision when the time comes.”

We said in this space almost a year ago to the day that Rodón could be the answer to the Cubs rebuilding question.

That might be even truer now, with the emergence of local second-year pitchers Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele as likely members of the Cubs’ 2023 opening rotation, along with Kyle Hendricks and Marcus Stroman (assuming the Cubs are not trading the right-handed veteran).

AFTER: Steele and Thompson earn key spots in Cubs’ future

A bona fide frontline veteran power pitcher added to that mix is ​​quickly changing the complexion of the Cubs’ competitive projections, even after the likely trades of Contreras, Ian Happ and the three veteran relievers.

Rodón, 29, knows enough about the Cubs to admit they spent $71 million on Stroman and $99.6 million on Seiya Suzuki last winter.

And enough to ask this when asked if he agreed with the premise that a frontline starter could dramatically speed up the Cubs timeline:

“What does center field look like? »

Exactly. This is the other important element. In addition to Nico Hoerner hitting short this season, the Cubs should explore another strong class of free-agent shortstops this winter in a bid to bring Hoerner back to No. 2 to produce what could be one of the fields tightest middles in the division, if not the league.

“There are some good ones,” Rodón said.

All-Star Trea Turner of the Dodgers. Carlos Correa of ​​the Twins and Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox, another pair of All-Stars, are expected to opt out of their contracts this winter and join Turner.

Some in the Cubs organization are particularly fond of Bogaerts, who lacks Correa’s glove but brings a batting profile and club demeanor the Cubs covet.

Add the big pitcher and the big infielder and spruce up the bullpen?

Where has Rodón seen this before?

“The Cubs right now are kind of like the 2017-18 White Sox, right?” he said. “I could be wrong. I don’t watch Chicago Cubs baseball much and I don’t know the depth of the whole farm system and everything that goes on there. But we went through a rebuild with the Chicago White Sox , and you take your bumps and you take your bruises, and guys are going to really struggle and then all of a sudden they turn into superstars.

Yoan Moncada went from leading the majors in strikeouts and struggling in 2018 to getting MVP votes in 2019, he pointed out. Rodón went from wrestling and shoulder surgery to producing on the other side of injury, and Lucas Giolito went from one of the majors’ worst starters statistically in 2018 to an All-Star in 2019. , receiving votes from Cy Young for the past three years.

“All the time before that, it sucked. We cracked up,” he said. “I remember in 18 we were 62-99 and just trying not to lose 100 games. And we lost that last game.

Sound familiar?

“The Cubs are kind of there right now,” he said. “It takes a few moves. If you look at the White Sox, they signed [Yasmani] Grandal, signed a few starters [Dallas Keuchel after ‘19, Lance Lynn after ’20]solidified their enclosure.

The White Sox were in the playoffs the last two seasons.

The Cubs have more money than the Sox, and chairman Tom Ricketts vowed to spend it after team president Jed Hoyer gutted the All-Star main roster with trades from Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez and Kris Bryant.

Maybe now is the time. For the Cubs to redeem some redemption — if not give something back to their abused fanbase, faster, for all that big industry dollar they’re spending at Wrigley Field.

To hear Rodón talk about Chicago, it might be time for him too – especially after taking the short-term deal, which proves other teams were hesitant to invest longer-term last winter,

“I have the business part where you have to invest in a guy, and a guy who doesn’t have the best track record – I don’t have the best track record; I understand,” Rodón said. “But I knew I was healthy. I knew what I was capable of. And I’m grateful to the San Francisco Giants for giving me the chance to show it.

“Without them, I wouldn’t be able to show you that, hey, I can still do it, even if you thought it was just a one-hit wonder.”

He laughed a little while saying that.

“We still have 2 1/2 months, 3 1/2 months,” he said, “to show a lot more, not just myself, but my team.”

Hoyer should watch with interest. And assign someone to try and get some of that money back from those clenched fists.

Otherwise, keep the tissues handy for a few more seasons of tears.

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