Cubs Notes: Free agents vs. comp pick, Jackson, Schierholtz, and more...

Cubs Notes: Free agents vs. comp pick, Jackson, Schierholtz, and more...

Lots of talk from the Cubs front office lately with the recent signings of Nate Schierholtz and Edwin Jackson.

We'll start with Theo Epstein as he spoke on WEEI and had some interesting things to say about the Cubs rebuilding process.  It's especially timely because some of the subject matter relates closely to things we touched on in the article and in our comments section yesterday.

  • As we speculated, Epstein isn't exactly eager to give up a draft pick to sign a free agent.  He mentioned, as we have, that this year's pick is equivalent to a high 1st round supplemental (somewhere in the 40th pick range).  The Cubs intend to stockpile amateur talent and the new CBA limits their ability to do that if they don't have picks at the top of the draft.

Epstein had this to say (you can listen for yourself here but CSN's Patrick Mooney transcribed much of the Cubs/draft pick compensation portion here in his article, which you can check out here.  And if you really want a complete transcript, then I present you with this from CCO.

“There aren’t multiple paths into the amateur marketplace anymore. In the past, you could give up a high pick and realize you were going to overpay someone later on. You could give up a couple draft picks and realize that you’d just go out and try to dominate international free agency that year. You just don’t have the ability to do those things anymore.

“So when you surrender a draft pick and the pool space that goes with it, you’re really admitting that you’re not going to have as impactful a draft that year as you would otherwise, and that’s something that’s really hard to do, given the price of free agents these days and just how meaningful it is to develop your own talent and have that player under control for six years.

“It’s really hard to say: ‘Hey, we’re trying to build a healthy organization, but we’re going to do it while admitting our draft is not going to be quite as impactful this year.’

“You’re seeing a real premium placed on the draft picks and the pool space that goes with it for good reason. But I think it’s a little bit unfortunate the effect it’s had on certain free agents when there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I feel like the single best thing that can happen to a prospective free agent in his platform year is getting traded, because it removes the burden of the draft-pick compensation.”

Similarly, Jed Hoyer said,

“It certainly was an attractive thing.  If you look at the trend of the market, a lot of the players that didn’t have draft-pick compensation have gone off the board already. It wasn’t the reason we were attracted to him, but it was certainly a nice factor.”

Edwin Jackson

  • It sounds like both Epstein and Hoyer were on the same page with Edwin Jackson.  Hoyer mentioned he heard great things about Jackson as a teammate and both raved about his durability, age (29), excellent stuff, the ability to be a mid-rotation starter, and the possibility that he may have his best years ahead of him.  This goes with what they've been saying all along, that when they do dip into free agency, especially at this stage, they will not pay for past performance.  They want guys who are young and project well in the next few years.  The two pitchers they pursued, Anibal Sanchez and Jackson, both fit that criteria.
  • On a related note,  Jordan Bernstein tweets that the Cubs never intended to sign both.  Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum met with Jackson, while owner Tom Ricketts met with Sanchez in Florida.

Nate Schierholtz

  • Carrie Muskat wrote that the Cubs expect Nate Schierholtz to be a regular in RF.   The news has interesting implications in a) that he will not be platooning with Dave Sappelt and b) that it's David DeJesus in CF barring any changes.  It's still possible that either Sappelt or another acquisition could give DeJesus a day off against some lefty pitchers.

Said Hoyer,

“He’s certainly going to play a ton for us.  We feel he’s a guy who has been undervalued and a guy who, with more at-bats, can thrive. He’s played in the NL West and playing 100 games that are tough hitters ballparks.”

In other stuff around the web...

  • Bruce Levine had a chat in which he discussed free agent and trade scenarios.
  • Edwin Jackson is happy to finally have stability and jokes that he's moved around a lot because, "I think everyone likes me."
  • In his radio interview, Epstein also mentioned that there is an imbalance in the Cubs system where they are deep in position player talent but short on pitchers.  Apart from Arodys Vizcaino, many of the Cubs top young SP arms have yet to play full season ball.  Of course, we follow the minor leagues closely here and that statement shouldn't be a shock to anyone.
  • In regards to free agents and draft pick compensation, MLBTradeRumors' Zach Links writes that  it doesn't seem like the Cubs will be interested in Bourn or any of the other free agents who are tied to draft pick compensation.  Epstein did say he wouldn't be dogmatic about that policy, that certain FAs may be worth the pick,  but you really have to stretch your imagination to get the impression he was talking about anyone left in this year's class.  My guess is he's talking more about guys at the Zach Greinke level.

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  • John, Thanks again for all the great info. Do you know the % of 1st round picks that make it to the MLB teams and produce with an above average WAR? Just wondering.

  • In reply to cbbiefun2014:

    Your welcome and thanks. I have that info somewhere in my files. I'll have to dig it up. My feeling it really isn't about one player in the draft, it's about not compromising the amateur talent they're bringing in to build the foundation. Maybe that comp pick won't amount to anything, but the more chances you have at the top level amateur talent, the more likely you're going to hit. Cubs like what they see for their first two picks.

  • Thanks, I see what they are trying to do and I trust them, I actually trust them more because of the way they want to teach at all levels and not leave it up to the players own talents.

  • In reply to cbbiefun2014:

    The development part of their plan has been a huge turnaround from what we're used to here. That may be the most exciting part of all.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly - Unlike the old slapped-together policy in building up and maintaining the Farm system and the horrible job that was (in general) done in finding raw talent, building up the skill sets and value of those talents over time, and bringing them along to the parent club,... this renovation looks like the end results will pay dividends.

    Even IF some of the youngsters don't end up contributing directly to the Cubs in Wrigley,... many of them could be come bait for trades and at least will continue to rasie the level of play in Boise, Peoria, and the other affiliates.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Really like how they haven't been afraid to deal with issues early, even with top prospects like Baez and Soler.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not kidding here: if they really want to deal with Baez's "issues", they'll force him to work a month in a soup kitchen and hopefully he takes some humility away from the experience.

    I love the bat. The ego reminds me way too much of a certain right fielder from Cubs history.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    From what I've seen and heard, he's pretty humble off the field. Not sure a soup kitchen will help :) Different from Sosa in that sense.

    On the field is a different story, he's pretty brash with confidence. I think the AZ Fall League, despite a few more tape measure shots, was a dose of reality.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'll trust you on that. As I think about it, even though he clearly has a very high opinion of his own talents, I've never seen him throw his teammates under the bus like Sammy sometimes would. Best example: after the loss to the Marlins, when Sammy found the press to say, "It wasn't Steve Bartman's fault -- Alex Gonzalez missed a double play." Coming from the guy who missed the cutoff man in that same inning.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yeah, Sosa was full of himself.

    Baez from what I understand, is a good teammate and seems to get along with everyone. He is indeed very confident in his abilities, you just hope he'll understand when he needs to listen. I think he does. There's been a few stories out there and I can give you one anecdote from my own experience... While watching him take batting practice in one game, I saw Baez have a pretty bad session where he was fouling everything off -- I'm not sure he made solid contact once. Afterwards, then hitting coach Barbaro Garbey pulled him aside, puts his arm on his shoulder and was clearly giving him advice (though I couldn't hear it)

    Baez just listened and nodded. Didn't talk back at all. Next session was better -- and maybe not coincidentally, ripped the ball all day when the game started, including a 450 ft. HR over the Pepsi sign in left-center at Kane County.

    I can't honestly tell you if what Garbey said actually helped or, really, if Baez even used that advice since I don't know what it was, but it was obvious Baez was at least listening to him actively and respectively during the impromptu coaching session.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Peoria is a Cardinal's affiliate now. Cubbies are affiliated with Kane County now.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Mentally stuck in the past apparently Zachary,... I stand corrected.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Happens to the best of us. Seeing as how I live in Peoria I really wish they hadn't switched affiliates. Going to be an exciting year for the Cubs A club, at least for the first couple months. I do hope that some of the younger guys are still on the team when they do visit Peoria in May.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Couldn't agre more, John. This Cub FO will develop their draftable talent like none did reviously.

  • Who do you see for the second round pick?

  • In reply to eddie35:

    Lots of possibilities. Too early to know and things can change down there. A lot of good college arms and high school catchers. Either one of those areas or perhaps a high school pitcher unexpectedly drops because of the depth in those areas.

    Once Bourn signs, maybe I'll devote an entire article on it.

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    John, I hope Bourn just signs soon so we could get the Soriano for Brown deal doneASAP!!!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I like that deal, but it hasn't been talked about in a while. I think it'd have to be the Phillies calling with interest for that to happen at this point.

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    "I feel like the single best thing that can happen to a prospective free agent in his platform year is getting traded, because it removes the burden of the draft-pick compensation.”

    This is just begging to be thrown into the Translate-O-Tron: "Memo to all free agents who want to prove their value: Come sign a one year deal with the Cubs! I'll trade you and get you PAID!"

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Nice catch. I noticed that and I think you're interpretation is spot on. You have to think it's part of the sales pitch on those one year deals. Get an opportunity, make good, end the season on a contender, and then get paid. Pretty much what Anibal Sanchez and Zach Greinke did (not that they signed one year deals, but they were traded midseason and team couldn't make qualifying offer).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    On that note, it will be interesting to see how many free agents take team options next year for fear of losing out in FA. Guess some of that will depend upon how Bourn and the rest of the free agent class tied to comp picks end up doing.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    It is something of a learning process with the new CBA. To me it seems as if it's already affected those FAs tied to comp picks.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes, definitely. Also, promotes no trade clauses. The 2nd rd pick, even if they are struggling, still probably holds some psychological trade value to other teams with the prospect. They may believe this player has the taLent, but its something X team can correct. Im ready for baseball season!

  • That sounds like a good plan to me , if that is the Cubs thinking. Go to the Cubs , show everyone you are a good pitcher and get traded to a contender. Everyone wins, the pitcher has a chance to win on a contender and the Cubs restock the farm system a little more.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Have to be creative these days. That's one way to beat the system.

  • Interesting thought on Nate from Hoyer. Does anyone have those splits? Is the Giants' park (what is it, AT&T Park?) a pitchers' park?

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    In reply to mosconml:

    Here is a link to his career splits. He's hit lefties for a better avg over his career than righties (obp and slg are mostly similar). He shouldn't have to platoon if those numbers hold up.

    His ballpark splits are at the bottom. In SF over his career at home he hit .269/.322/.405

    He's had a higher avg/obp/slg on the road over his career. Although remember that the NL West where he played most of his career are all mostly pitcher's parks.

    He's intriguing. Could be a very nice signing, put up 15-18 (maybe even 20 hr's if he's lucky) and drive in 75-80 runs. Not going to tear things up based on his career numbers but could be a good value signing at a little over $2 mil, put up respectable numbers, play good defense, and we could either trade him or bring him back because he has one more year of arbitration left. And if he doesn't do anything more than he already has, then he's an inexpensive one year gamble that didn't pay off. But I think with 500 ab's he should put up decent numbers (15 hr's -75 RBI type).

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Thanks JW for digging that up. I'd take that kind of season. Schierholtz used to be a top power prospect with the Giants, who know a little something about scouting. I hope the change of scenery and chance to play everyday helps him get closer to the potential they once thought he had.

  • I like Nate's signing. If in fact he hits .270 with 15 hr and 75 rbi while playing good D in the field, he would be a real bargain for a little north of 2M.

  • John have you heard anything about officially signing their last SP FA? Who on the 40 man roster is likely to go? How long can they stretch this out?

  • In reply to John57:

    I think they're going to take their time on this because they'll have to remove a guy from the roster, something I think they'd like to avoid. It's likely a matter of exploring all options first before making the move to remove a player.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, do you have the current 40 man roster on this site anywhere?

  • I am all in on the patient approach to a rebuild. I hope that the Cubs surprise in 2013, but do it with a team that is moving toward 2014 and beyond. I think that past administrations believed in player developement to a point, but consented to player resistence as many of the more talented prospects wanted to stick to what had worked for them. As we have seen with Jackson and Vitters the higher up the chain the harder it is to correct. This front office starts on day one.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed on all counts, 44.

  • Its good to see that there is a long-haul viewpoint in rebuilding this little team of ours.

    I don't hold out much hope for a playoff run from our Cubbies this season - but they should be competative most games. HRs are fun to watch,... but defense and pitching win games as long as run production is also consistent.

    It's the run product where I think the issues will come. Unless Stewart & Castillo have better power and on base skills than in the past, and unless B. Jackson can get his act together, and unless Soriano/Castro/Rizzo all have years at least as good as last season - the runs may come irregularly most of the season.

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    Given the imbalance in our system, how often do you see trades of prospects for other prospects? It's certainly not something I hear about often. Just curious if teams ever do that with players who have legit major league potential.

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    In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    It's almost unheard of to trade low level prospects for low-level prospects (by low level, I don't mean prospect ranking, but rather level of minor league attainment).

    We would have to wait until they are close to ML ready for a trade like that

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    It's rare. My expectation is that the Cubs will address SP primarily with the draft. They should get Appel, Manaea, or Stanek. That would give them their top prospect, but I think they'll continue to stock up later in the draft.

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    It is obvious by Theo's comments, and the lack of activity around certain FAs, that the market is valuing draft picks far more than it did in the past.

    I actually doubt that Rafael Soriano will receive a total contract value higher than the $14 mil he turned down from the Yankees. Not ANNUAL value, but total contract value.

    Kyle Lohse does not figure to get a $14 mil annual salary, and it seems like LaRoche is struggling in that regard as well

    Only Bourn still figures to win from turning down the qualifying offer

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think Soriano almost has to take a one year deal the way Edwin Jackson did and try again next year. I think in the future if you're an RP, you should strongly consider taking those qualifying offers. They can't keep offering them forever and if you do, you'll make yourself quite a bit of money.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    $14 mil isn't bad......we are talking baseball money not real money, but even in baseball terms, $14 mil for a year is pretty solid for any of the FA's this year not named Bourn or Hamilton or Grienke

    Teams just won't give up a 1st round pick and a bunch of money unless you are getting an all-star back

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    From an economics viewpoint, next off-season will be fascinating. The mid-level players struggles to find work changes the game. You may well have more people accepting the QO next year -- which could lead to them being handed out less in 2 years.

    I hate the new CBA in terms of actual policy. As ground zero for testing game theory -- quite brilliant, actually.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's very interesting from a game theory point of view.

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    Here is a question: Can players request in their contract a clause that they CANNOT be offered a qualifying offer?

    If it's possible, I bet we start seeing players ask for this, because being saddled with a draft pick comp clearly has an effect on the amount of $ you get in free agency

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I don't think it can be written in the language of the contract but it could conceivably be agreed upon informally. Many think that's the case with Edwin Jackson and the Nats. I thought it was strange he didn't even get a qualifying offer then the Nats signed the similarly productive, but older and bigger injury risk in Dan Haren for the same money.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I know there was another free agent 2-3 years ago that had a handshake agreement not to offer him arbitration. I believe it was Orlando Hudson, perhaps when he went to the Twins, but I'm not sure. But I do remember it was announced at the time of the signing (on MLBTR), it wasn't a secret that the new team wouldn't be offering him arbitration. So this has happened in the past. But it is against the spirit of the rules if it's not directly violating the rules.

    The new CBA needs to be tweaked because the compensation clause obviously isn't working for either side. The prospective new teams don't want to give up the pick to sign a FA and the old team isn't getting the comp. pick if nobody signs them, which leaves these guys in limbo, almost have to go back to their old teams if possible and take a much smaller contract, and in some cases, their old teams already replaced them.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    I think the answer is to not have the new team surrender a draft pick. Go back to just supplemental picks, the old team gets a sandwich pick between either the 1st and 2nd rounds or 2nd and 3rd.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    As a clarification, the old team still gets a sandwich pick b/w rounds 1 and 2, provided the player spent the whole year on their roster (another change; so no comp for mid-season acquisitions). Signing teams also had to surrender a draft pick in the old model.

    What's changed is that so many avenuse you had that Theo alluded to to just "make it up" somewhere else are closed. So, you lose that pick, you lose alot. Before, you could just spend extra in International free agents or overslot signings to make it up.

    I think owners like the draft pick comp right's keeping a lid on some FA contracts

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    BTW, a handshake agreement is the only way to explain why E-Jax was not tied. It was very surprising to many that he wasn't, based on production and projection. But a handshake makes sense, particularly because he took a cut-rate deal

    If we see one of the remaining guys take a pillow, I would bet anything there is a handshake like this behind it....

  • Seems to me the F/A left have draft picks connected with them......maybe these players value are not worth to give up on that pick?

    Instead of a draft pick, maybe it would be better off if the team that signs that player to give a certain set percentage (1 %) of money to the team where the F/A left. And that money can only be used for the farm system in player development & draft signings.

    So Hamilton signed for $125,000,000 with the Texas receives $1,250,000 from the Angels.....that money can be used to sign a draft pick in the college/high school draft or invested in their farm system.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Interesting idea. We know the NPB posts players and receives financial compensation for loss of their players. Wealthy teams can always find more money, so I don't think it would slow them down as much as losing a draft pick. And it would benefit small market teams who need money to spend.

  • For those of you interested, Fangraphs published their ZIPS projects for the Cubs...

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Thanks North Side. I've been waiting for that.

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Interesting, thanks!

    ZIPS loves Rizzo. (.279-31-109) Especially though B-Jax, who it predicts for .230-17 hr 60 RBI. I'd be thirlled with that production. Projects a 34% K-Rate. Let's hope ZIPS is right!

  • In reply to North Side Irish:


    Interesting that so many of our young, near MLB ready prospects are rated as above avg MLB replacements now.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Actually just wrote a piece on that. One of my favorite times of the offseason.

  • Re: Schierholtz; Right after your Hoyer quote above comes the phrase: "As we look at our roster today, he’d play in right, probably in some kind of platoon.”

    BTW: I read Cubs Den with some regularity but rarely feel the need to comment. Thanks to all of you for my Cubs fix.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    Thanks Bruno. I'm guessing that's more of a clarification on Hoyer's part. I like the idea of a Schierholtz/Sappelt platoon in RF.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    I saw that too. But I think it's more of a "make him earn it" type of thing. The reality is he faces little competition for PT if he proves himself worthy. His floor is that of a platoon guy that will hit a little and play solid D. About what his contract justifies. His ceiling is unknown, but he definitely has some upside.

    Personally, I'd rather see a platoon of DDJ & Sappelt in CF vs Nate & Sappelt in RF based on what I expect from them this year.

    P.S. I'm going to really miss Kim DeJesus when she's gone....

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