Fielder splash signing sends ripples through the Cubs organization

The Prince Fielder signing has implications for the Cubs in that it weakens a rival and puts to bed any far-fetched (yet still lingering) rumors that the Cubs had any interest in signing the first baseman.  While a Fielder signing was always unlikely, the deal impacted the Cubs in a number of ways...

  • Bryan LaHair: The big first baseman now officially has a clear path to open the season as the Cubs first baseman, though he may only be keeping it warm for Anthony Rizzo.  It's LaHair's job now, though, and he can make that decision tough for the Cubs by playing well.
  • Anthony Rizzo: The first baseman of the future won't have an immovable object in his way.  He should have a much easier time wresting the job away from LaHair than he would have had taking it from Fielder.
  • Alfonso Soriano: One less suitor for the Cubs left fielder.  It's obvious Soriano doesn't fit the Cubs new philosophy of defense, OBP, etc and he won't be in Chicago long term.  The Fielder signing assured he won't be heading to Detroit.  Soriano reportedly wants to play for a contender, but those choices seem to be dwindling.
  • Yoenis Cespedes: One less suitor for the Cuban mega-star.  Detroit was one team that many pegged as having a legitimate shot to challenge the Marlins and Cubs.  Ultimately they chose the safer, albeit far more expensive route.
  • Matt Garza: Garza was a rumored target of the Tigers and while some think that maybe the Tigers have spent their money and are done making moves, the Fielder addition makes it imperative that the team look beyond the AL Central and start thinking about competing for a World Series ring. The Fielder signing also moves Miguel Cabrera to 3B, helping give the Tigers what is perhaps the worst defensive infield in recent memory.  Could the Tigers use a Matt Garza type pitcher who is less reliant on his defense than holdovers Rick Porcello and Doug Fister?  The Tigers certainly have the offense to compete, but the defense and pitching is a different story.  Garza could help them alleviate both problems.
  • Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer: While not many front office members are going to send Scott Boras a Christmas card anytime soon, the Cubs brass could learn a little from the hard-driving agent. The lesson is this:  Don't give in and settle for less.  Sooner or later a team is going to want what you have.  They can play coy, say the price is too high, flirt with other options -- but in the end, the Cubs have the best SP on the market in Matt Garza, just as Boras had the best player in Prince Fielder.  Boras didn't settle for anything less than a premium for that commodity -- and neither should the Cubs.



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  • John, I'm sure you can help me out here. I want to know how it is that Boras is getting these teams to give up so much money. Is he flat out telling them lies?

    Maybe I just don't have a good understanding of how things work, but when I start talking about 200+ million dollars, I am going to be doing some crazy investigative things to find out what other bids I'm going up against. Boras can lie to me all he wants saying he has 3 other teams willing to go 8 years for 195million and that you can have him for 9 and 214m, but I'm going to be verifying his lies before I let him fleece me like that.

    Is that considered collusion and policed by the commish somehow?

    Either way, good points about Theo and Jed sticking to their guns

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    I don't think they're flat out lies, but he probably stretches the truth quite a bit.

    Here's my take on this particular signing... One thing about Boras is that he's a master of manipulating the situation. One thing he's done, and he did it again with the Tigers, is skip the GM and go straight to the owner.

    So why would he do that? Here's my hypothesis...

    GMs have a better sense of player value while owners think in terms of what they can afford -- and sell in terms of things like ticket sales, marketing, etc. Boras would rather negotiate from that perspective rather than deal in cold hard, objective statistics.

    Boras is a clever guy. He knew he was at a stalemate trying to get that kind of contract using objective standards, so he went to a non-baseball guy and talked sales, marketing, and a chance to make big, big dollars. All he needs is one desperate guy to make it work.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah I guess that's a good point. I did see a tweet out there earlier in the day from one of the big boys. Someone asked him what percentage of influence that Illitch had in the decision and the reply was 100%.

    It's just kind of stupid from a baseball standpoint because it makes you wonder where this all ends up. The bottom line is that it will affect ticket prices in the end and baseball is already going away from being a family game to a corporate event.

    I just don't like Boras I guess. I was hoping that after he failed so miserably with Madsen that he was finally going to get his just desserts.....too bad for me I guess.

  • Have another question for you John.

    I thought that if a guy gets over 100 AB's in the big leagues that his arb clock gets started. Rizzo already has more than that. Did last season count as one of his 6? If so, why are they starting him in AAA if he is on the clock already anyways?

    The whole process is a little confusing to me. I'm glad the FO has guys smarter than me to figure it all out.

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    The arb clock stops when he's in AAA. A similar, but much more exaggerated case is happening with Bryan LaHair. He spent some time in the majors and then 3 years in the minors before finally coming up again last year, yet he has about the same service time as Anthony Rizzo.

    These rules are confusing and it's probably no coincidence that front offices are getting bigger and more specialized.

  • I do wonder what this means for Garza. I don't mind having him around, but I'm not sure it's best for the long term health of the team. I think the prospects he could bring in would have more value than he will, since he's going to be expensive very soon if we want to keep him around.

    If we offered to take a package of Castellanos, Smyly, Crosby, and either Brantly/McCann, would the Tigers be more interested? I'd rather have Turner and Castellanos, but I just don't know if the Tigers will bite on that.

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    In reply to bwenger:

    They may have no choice...They have a 2 front line starters in Verlander and Phister a Matt Garza inbetween those 2 strentghens their position against anyone else in the AL..If they don't all that offense won't do crap for you and their defense is spotty ..Garza misses bats and that's huge for a team like the Tigers..If they're going for it now giving up Castellanos and Turner is a no brainer..a tough pill but if the Cubs were that close, i'd be pissed if they didn't either..They have a window..time to jump in through it!!!

  • In reply to bwenger:

    That's the key, right? Where do the Cubs get the most value? If, for example, the Tigers offer a package that didn't include either one of Turner or Castellanos at the very least, then I think Garza has more value, salary and all. If you get them both, you definitely make the deal. If you get one or the other than it's up for debate with Theo and Jed.

  • How many years until this signing is listed as one of the worst

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Detroit had best win a championship in the next three seasons. By the time Prince hits thirty, his man boobs may reach his navel.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    The Cubs had better reach the World Series within three years--anything else is not acceptable and leadership should be held accountable.

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    I meant to say: "anything less" ...

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    3 years! What part of this system makes you think, that if Theo and Company can't reach a World Series, they should be fired...that is what held accountable means.

    If he reaches a World Series in 3 years...he is a miracle worker.

  • In reply to tony h:


    1. Yes.
    2. If this bunch reaches the world series, then they would have full filled the expectations as portrayed when they were hired--all that hope.

    If they accomplish the goal in three years, they should be rewarded as well.

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    But if they don't, they should be held accountable?

    This team is going to take 1-2 years just to clean out the mess from Hendry, and fix the farm system. Most of the best prospects are at the lower levels

    I'm hoping that they will be starting the era of being competitive every year in 3 years...starting.

  • In reply to tony h:


    This bunch can do it...Cubs are a Major League team--not Daytona.

    Hand full of smart additions/subtractions/smart drafting can put this team on a fast track to Division Championship and more...

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    Are you saying that the team, as currently constructed can be competitive and win a World Series?

    I will say, I have seen mostly overly optimistic thoughts on this site, but you have taken it to a new, higher strength, Cubbie Kool-Aide.

    It's funny, my thoughts are considered to be drinking to much Cubbie Kool-Aide on another site, by just saying that I think this team will be more enjoyable to watch then the awful teams we have seen the last few years and that Theo is taking this team in the right direction.

  • In reply to GoCubs:


    Let me say it again...

    Hand full of smart additions/subtractions/smart drafting can put this team on a fast track to Division Championship and more...

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'd say in 4-5 years this deal could start to look pretty bad.

  • John - Where did you see that Cabrera will play 3B?

    He is way past his years of being able to play 3B.

    Also - I get this error every time I try to post and have to try 2,3,even 4 times to post a comment - "You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down." I log-in an type a comment?

  • In reply to tony h:

    Fielder 1B
    Cabrera DH
    Castellano 3B

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    What's your point? It was stated yesterday that Fielder would play 1B more, and that Cabrera would be at DH more. Castellano is not ready yet.

    John was saying the Cabrera would play 3B, next year, when VMart is back. I was asking where he saw that, as I don't think Cabrera can play 3B at all anymore, and that they will trade off VMart.

  • In reply to tony h:

    Why are you so offended?

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    I'm not, I just don't get your point of posting a Single a player to play 3B.

    I want to know where he saw anyone from the Tigers say they wanted Cabrera to play 3B down the road. He can't do it, but it will make him hands down the best fantasy player, if he will gain eligibility at 3B.

  • In reply to tony h:


    I was just giving my thoughts...nothing more and nothing less. :)

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    In reply to tony h:

    peter gammons was talking about it on hot stove last night that thats what his sources with the tigers were saying was there plan for when v mart came back that cabrera would play 3b or maybe left

  • In reply to tony h:

    Sorry about that error issue. Thanks for letting me know. I'll tell the appropriate people about that.

    As for Cabrera at 3B, it's been speculated in numerous places. It'll be tough to fit everyone in and I'm willing to bet neither Fielder nor Cabrera are willing to DH while they're both relatively young. One writer said that the Tigers have already talked to Cabrera about the switch.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He will need to get in shape for that to happen, something, he hasn't shown to be concerned with more many years.

    I see him being uglier looking than Soriano in LF, if they put him at 3B or LF. His last full year at 3B was 2007 and he made 23 errors with limited range...he will be worse now.

  • In reply to tony h:

    I agree. It's a peculiar move, but that's what people think is going to happen right now. Whether they can survive an entire season with that IF remains to be seen.

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    John, great write up as usual..and the Cubs WILL get what they want for Garza hopefully before Spring Training!! Detroit has raised the stakes and better get a Garza caliber pitcher whose playoff tested that can back Verlander..It would be foolish of them at this point not to soidify their rotation..@ GoCubs, I don't think Castellanos is readsy for the bigs for at least 11/2-2 years..he was in A ball this year wasn't he??

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Luigi...You are probably right about Castellano. But, I suppose Detroit can afford to have a 3B who is not a good hitter, but a gr8 fielder etc. since they have solid offense.

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    In reply to GoCubs:

    Inge is solid at 3rd and decent....Their window is now and Garza as their #2 would be HUGE!! Especially with a spotty defense cause he strikes out lots of guys and he's still young to boot...I think Dombrowski is posturing to give up less but you need 3 great starters to dominate in the postseason and throwing Garza in the mix would give Detroit a DOMINANT 1-3...I want Turner and Castellano as Cubs

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:


    I agree with you 100%. I think the other shoe is going to drop pretty soon! :)

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Thanks Luigi! I think we should bear in mind that the Royals could be involved too so they can try and keep up. Right now their pitching is going to get destroyed by the Tigers.

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    Luigi and GC, I think you guys are being a bit exuberant, at least prematurely. Why would the Tigers give up Turner and Castellanos plus pay Garza 8-12m when they could get Oswalt for a year and keep those players? what GM would do that, especially when it gives Turner, a player who could be much better than Garza, another year of development and a lot less pressure to succeed immediately? Until Oswalt, Edwin Jackson and Gavin Floyd are off the market, the opportunity to get two or three stud prospects for Garza is non-existent. No one is going to give Theo $50m in inventory or a number 2/3 starter, depending how you value Fister, unless the market for starting pitchers as evaporated. Plus, Detroit loves Porcello who is going to have a breakout year this season. I'm not saying Detroit doesnt need Garza, but they have a few other options.

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    there are some parts that i agree with u about, and some that i dont. i do believe that it makes sense to pay 8 mil for oswalt rather than 10 mil plus prospects for garza, but oswalt or any of those other pitchers for that matter dont offer what garza does and thats a power arm, front of the rotation starter.

    i also dont agree that we HAVE to wait for the pitching market to die down more, but we SHOULD because then some team like toronto, detroit, texas, whoever it ends up being that doesnt sign oswalt, jackson, etc. will come swooping in and offer us the moon for garza in retalliation to the movies other teams have made.

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    I don't agree. I don't think any of those pitchers are considered the cailber of Matt Garza at this point. He's the only front line starter of that group. You could settle for less and then hope Turner pans out, but that's a big chance to take when you're heavily invested to win in the next 2-3 years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Has there been any rumors of expanding a deal with Garza? My take with the Fielder trade as it pertains to Garza is that if the Cubs would be willing to take back Brandon Inge and his 6.5M salary (who looks like the odd man out in Detroit) the Tigers would be much more willing to take up the 9-12M salary of Garza and give up more value in a trade package (Turner, Castellanos, and Oliver perhaps).

  • In reply to NIKOMAN:

    I haven't heard anything like that, but it makes some sense -- especially in light of the all the money spent on the Fielder signing. FWIW, I haven't heard anything new on Garza at all, of late.

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    "Why would the Tigers give up Turner and Castellanos plus pay Garza 8-12m when they could get Oswalt for a year and keep those players?"

    Because Oswalt is constantly injured. He can't he counted on to make it through a season.

  • At least you had some explanation, after losing the Prince sweepstakes and Pena going back to Tampa, whether the Cubs have a first baseman. Apparently not a marquee* one.

    *If I used the correct term.

  • In reply to jack:

    Cubs were never in the Prince sweepstakes, at least not seriously.

    Do you think having a marquee first baseman is necessary for a rebuilding team?

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    Ever since I caught wind of the Prince signing I've been wondering about the prospects of a Garza-Detroit deal -- Have they improved, or are they now non-existent?

    I don't think Garza's contract has to be such a hindrance in this situation. If Chicago is willing to eat a ton of money to get some sort of long-term value out of Soriano, then I'd assume they'd do the same with Garza. Why not take on Inge as a veteran holdover at 3B? Why not offer some sort of financial compensation in return? Making Garza a 'cheap' short-term asset should make him very valuable to a team that wants to win now and has little room left to maneuver. In this case, I think the only question is how much 2 years of an inexpensive pitcher like Garza is worth for a Tigers organization that wants to gear up for September now. Is it worth losing Jacob Turner? Is it worth losing Nick Castellanos? As Cubs fans know all too well, prospects like these are never sure things. If Detroit really wants it all now, getting Garza in this manner could be their best option.

    I'd say a deal is still possible. I could just be an overly hopeful Cubs fan though.

  • In reply to Matt Barrett:

    I think the status of a Garza deal with the Tigers is largely unchanged. The pressure to win now has probably increased, but they payroll flexibility has decreased. Your suggestion of taking on someone like Inge doesn't sound outlandish to me. It could, in a sense, increase, Garza's value by making the net cost cheaper.

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    I never said any of those pitchers were of the caliber of Garza, They are not, there I agree with you John, but they are close. I just don't think Detroit is going to sell the farm to get a #2 or #3 rotation guy with two years control when Oswalt is a #3 guy, Floyd is a #3 guy and Edwin Jackson is a #2 or #3 guy. When you factor in the salaries each would command or are paid, I think (us) asking Detroit to give up 2 or 3 of their top 4 minor league players is unrealistic. Theo/Jed don't employ the Jedi Mind Trick, you know, but it would be nice. Garza projects to a 4.2 WAR, Floyd 3.3, Jackson 3.2, Oswalt 3.1 (and for sake of comparison, Fister 4.6 and Porcello 2.8). I just don't see Detroit overpaying for the difference that Garza would represent over Floyd, Oswalt or Jackson, with two of those three probably cheaper salary-wise than Garza and none would cost top minor league prospects to acquire. Plus, there are some interesting free agent pitchers that will be available NEXT YEAR, so a stopgap of Oswalt or Floyd is not absurd. Sorry. Garza would have more trade value if a team's #1 or #2 suffers a critical injury once the season starts. The other thing I don't understand is if you all think so highly of Garza, why do you want to trade him? I read on other posts he compares to John Danks, nearly statistically identical. Putting Garza on a similar contract would seem favorable to Jed/Theo I would think. The days where players who are coveted are over-valued are long gone, and there are very few fleecings in baseball. Turner, Casteallanos and Oliver for Garza is absurd. Even taking on Inge's contract won't happen, it would leave Detroit without a 3B (Miggy is playing DH, end of story, he is a butcher defensively and Leyland won't put him in the field) plus that goes against the Cubs model. Look , I would LOVE to get 2 or all 3 of those players. But it's not happening.

  • In reply to Jive Wired:

    All good points, Mike. And they may all be thinking something along those lines.

    To me, if the difference in talent were that small, I think they'd have made those signings already. In a vacuum, they'd prefer Garza. In fact, they'd rather give up a few prospects to have Garza than sign those guys outright. The hang-up has been the level of those prospects. So to me, I think there's certainly a feeling that there is a gap between Garza and that group -- the only question is how large that gap is.

    As for Danks, I think those comparisons are all based on statistics, some of which were compiled when Garza still was struggling to find the right approach. I don't buy that comparison. Danks stuff doesn't compare. He's a good #3 and a fringe #2 guy at best. Garza's at least a #2, and has the stuff and command to be a #1.

    I don't want to give the impression that I'm eager to trade him. That wasn't my intention at all. I'd only do it if the Cubs got better value in return. As much as I like Garza, if you can make a small gain in talent overall, you have to do it. If they keep him, I'll be happy as well. The only thing that would upset me is if they traded him for less than what they feel he is worth.

    I also totally agree that the best opportunity to trade him may not come until sometime during the season.

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