Cubs Convention News: TV Deal Talk, Bryce Harper Speculation, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber

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During a Cubs Convention session entitled “Business Operations Update,” team President Crane Kenney perfectly articulated just how much the organization’s expectations have changed.  The goal used to be “winning a World Series,” now it’s “winning the World Series,” as Kenney put it. 

He then listed off a few noteworthy facts. Having now reached the past three NLCS, the last time the Cubs made the postseason three years in a row was from 1906-08.  Their 292 wins over the last three seasons is the most in Major League Baseball. Over the past 15 years, the 2017 Cubs were the only defending World Series champion to win their division the next year. 

cubs convention

Given all that’s been accomplished at 1060 W. Addison lately, the bar is high for success. The bar is also high for news, but Cubs Convention 2018 didn’t really provide many headline worthy events. Of course, it’s not like a fan fest is a huge generator by nature, but this is the Cubs, and therefore everything that happens is amplified.

There really isn’t a true “lead” from this weekend, but there were a lot of noteworthy events, starting with the television contract talk.

-As you already knew, the Cubs are moving towards launching their own cable TV network, and thus ending their long-standing partnership with the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago/formerly Comcast Sports Net Chicago has been having plenty of problems already, as their employee layoffs have been well documented.

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With the Cubs likely leaving, even rougher times are ahead for the network. With two years left on their current TV deal, the Kenney said they are “80 percent” leaning towards forming their own network, adding “it’s great to be us.”

Kenney’s business session was the most interesting and noteworthy of the weekend, and we covered that session in detail over at this link.   

-Yes, the “when will Sammy Sosa be welcomed back” question was asked yet again. And once again it was answered, in a manner that was talking without actually saying anything. It just wouldn’t be Cubs Convention without this transpiring; it’s an annual rite of passage.

-It’s been a very slow free agent market, and most Cubs fans still believe we’re going going to see a major move before Spring Training opens on Valentine’s Day. The type of news that most Cubs Convention goers are looking for right now relates to the free agent market, but nothing’s buzzing currently.

cubs convention

GM Theo Epstein hasn’t totally ruled out a reunion with Jake Arrieta (still doesn’t seem very likely), and he did say that he would like to add a pitcher this offseason. 

-The bullpen’s dance fever went viral during the postseason, and Carl Edwards Jr. showed the Cubs Convention crowd his new move, as he busted out the worm during the session devoted to pitchers. Jon Lester has credited Pedro Strop with starting the dancing machine trend. 

-No more stocky Kyle Schwarber, as he showed up to Cubs Con svelte. Thanks to dieting and fitness, he’s now 20 pounds lighter. Could he be in the running to be the leadoff hitter? Joe Maddon said this weekend that he doesn’t know yet who will hold that position. 

chicago cubs convention

-On the eve of Cubs Convention, the team announced some front office reshuffling. Scott Harris was promoted to Assistant General Manager, Jeff Greenberg became Director of Baseball Information, Shiraz Rehman to Assistant GM, Strategic Initiatives. Also, this past weekend saw the team avoid arbitration by reaching settlements with several key players.

Ace of the staff Kyle Hendricks will now make $4.175 million this season, Justin Wilson $4.25m, Addison Russell $3.2m, and Tommy La Stella $950,000. Kris Bryant set the record for a first year arbitration eligible player at $10.85m (that’s a $9.8 m raise). He surpassed Ryan Howard in 2008, who also won the NL Rookie of the Year, then NL MVP the following season. 

Justin Grimm didn’t make the deadline, and if a settlement isn’t reached, he would become the first Cubs player to go to arbitration during the Theo Epstein era. 

-Finally, there was a ton of Bryce Harper talk at Cubs Convention, with fans hoping the team can sign him in 2019. Bryant’s close connections to Harper are the conduit to the Nationals superstar, the narrative holds. 

Epstein was asked by a fan when they can buy Harper’s jersey at Cubs Convention. “Ask Kris Bryant,” Epstein responded.

Said Bryant, who grew up with Harper: “I don’t make those decisions, and I don’t think I ever could make those decisions, but who wouldn’t want Bryce Harper on their team?”

“He’s 25, and six years in the league he’s a superstar. He would bring a lot to any team.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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