As much as the defending champs need immediate insurance for the rotation – and long-term pitching solutions – Tyson Ross won’t be this year’s Cubs Convention surprise.
The Cubs don’t need gimmicks or distractions anymore – like a new mascot or Wrigley Field renderings – when they have the World Series trophy at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.
The Cubs made it a difficult decision for Ross but ultimately finished second to the Texas Rangers, sources said Friday, offering a similar one-year, $6 million structure plus bonuses. But the Cubs couldn’t match the proximity and access to TMI Sports Medicine, a well-regarded facility in Arlington, as Ross recovers from surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome.
“We go after lots of players,” team president Theo Epstein said. “But I think he made a decision that he sees in his best interest to come back from his injury and put himself in a position to pitch again. We wish him well.”
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Ross – who hasn’t pitched since making a 2016 Opening Day start for the San Diego Padres – methodically sorted through his options after getting non-tendered in early December. It would have been a gamble, but after playing through October and into early November, the Cubs saw Ross as a potential sixth starter, someone with top-of-the-rotation stuff when healthy.
“We were 1-for-2 on Rosses today,” Epstein said, referring to hiring David “Grandpa Rossy” as a special assistant to baseball operations.
Ryan Dempster is a man of many talents. He does impressions, jokes and even hosts his own talk show.
Yes, you read that right. Dempster hosted the season premiere of his show, “Friday Night with Ryan Dempster,” at Cubs Convention on, obviously, Friday to the delight of many fans.
His guests? They were pretty high profile, too. Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer dropped by to slug a few beers, laugh and answer some questions about last year’s World Series run.
Watch the full, hilarious interview in the video above.
Cubs Convention might be the beginning of the end for Jake Arrieta in Chicago. As generations of fans swarmed into a downtown hotel to relive the 2016 highlights and see the World Series trophy, the business side of the game didn’t shut down.
Arrieta knows the score after agreeing to a one-year, $15.6375 million contract that avoided an arbitration hearing before Friday’s filing deadline and moved the Scott Boras client even closer to testing the open market.
“The timeline is kind of coming to an end, as far as leading up to free agency,” Arrieta said at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. “I’m going to enjoy every moment of it. If something happens where an extension is possible, then we’ll address that when it happens. But as of now, we got one more season as a Cub, and I’m really happy about that.”
Arrieta has exceeded all expectations since that franchise-altering trade with the Baltimore Orioles, the Cubs giving him the time and the space to rediscover his natural talent and blossom from an inconsistent Triple-A guy into an All-Star pitcher.
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“I’ll always feel a part of this organization for the rest of my life,” Arrieta said, “because I came over here in ’13 and turned my career around, won a Cy Young, threw a couple no-hitters, won a World Series. So that’s going to be hard to top wherever I go, if I leave.
“I’ll feel a part of this city and the organization for a long time.”
Before an Opening Night performance that set the tone for the 2016 season – Arrieta allowed two hits across seven innings in a 9-0 win at Angel Stadium of Anaheim – Boras said: “Every Cy Young Award winner I know got a seven-year contract.”
Arrieta – who will turn 31 in spring training – also noted that he beat the $15.525 million Boras client Max Scherzer got in his final year in the arbitration system before landing a $210 million megadeal with the Washington Nationals.
“As a player, you’re told where you’re going to play your whole career until free agency,” Arrieta said. “So that’s a nice aspect of it – to be able to decide for once where you want to go. But this is a pretty good place to play. There are some great cities out there, some good teams. But I’m not worried about that now.
“I’m trying to be a good teammate and perform to the best of my ability for these guys for another season. And then we’ll go from there.”