With foundation set, Cubs now have multiple ways to improve team

With foundation set, Cubs now have multiple ways to improve team
Dan Vogelbach and Jorge Soler

These first two years of the rebuild were pretty painful. Record-wise, they've been the worst consecutive years in team history.

The difference, though, is that the Cubs haven't been losing aimlessly. When the Cubs started this thing, they knew they were going to lose. Funny things can happen in baseball and everything clicks and you can win unexpectedly -- but winning wasn't the plan.

The plan was to accumulate assets through all available avenues.  They signed undervalued vets going in their prime years and traded them for long term assets, they signed players out of Cuba and other Latin American countries, they invested heavily in the draft in terms of personnel and finances.

They were building a foundation.

They have one now and Theo is reportedly happy with it.  It is a consensus top 5 farm system and some would have it ranked as high as #2 overall.  But as we've talked about before, a foundation is not like a jigsaw puzzle to be put together piece by piece until you have the whole.  It is more like Settlers of Cataan, a process of accumulating and building - and, if necessary, selling surplus, buying according to need, and exchanging assets so that they better fit your overall plan.

The Cubs have accumulated a lot of assets and they are getting to the point where they have given themselves more options on how to build a team.  The usual avenues will always be there: free agent signings (I still expect the Cubs to spend, particularly on Masahiro Tanaka), value signings and flyer-type additions through waivers and non-tendered players, the trade of short term veterans for long term assets.

But now the Cubs also have the option of using some of those assets they've accumulated to enter the next phase and start acquiring players who can better help in the short term as well as the long term.  With their payroll low, they can afford to take on the salary of a veteran in a trade.  I think they'll start picking up quality, in-prime MLB players. It's not going to happen overnight.  The Cubs are too wise to spend all their assets in one place and all at one time, but we shouldn't be surprised if they start dealing from surplus in their farm system, if not this offseason, then perhaps by the deadline or next offseason.

It's no accident the Cubs have built depth at premium positions like SS and CF, and there has been attempts to create depth at catcher through the draft, there are the numerous position conversions to catcher occurring at instructs, and there's even been talk of creating surplus at the MLB level if they should seriously consider signing a FA catcher such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia or, less likely, Brian McCann.  They've also started to build a cache of power arms, though few have much value right now.

The most obvious use of these assets is to package them in a deal for a guy like Carlos Gonzalez, David Price, or any other potentially available, under 30 year old player who can still be productive as the Cubs become contenders.  They'll use surplus assets to exchange for equally valued need assets, those which are necessary to balance out the building process.  The Cubs lack pitching depth, they lack left-handed hitters, they lack OBP oriented players, and they're always looking to add power.

An interesting idea that's always fun and has become a more realistic option for the Cubs is the multi-team deal.  A common reason deals don't get done is that there is not a match between two teams.  One team may want a Giancarlo Stanton but may not have the desired prospects to get done.  With their strong farm system depth, the Cubs are now the kind of team that can fit in as the 3rd piece in a multi-team deal. While someone like Stanton would also be appealing as a Cubs acquisition, it would be a costly one to say the least.  One option would be for the Cubs to help supplement the prospect package of another team trying to acquire Stanton with depth from their system and in return, they could net prospects which fill in some of their own gaps -- assets such as top of the rotation prospects and LH hitters with OBP and/or power potential.  Or perhaps they trade high ceiling, lower level prospects for prospects closer to the major leagues.

For example, in an interview with Professor Parks earlier this year, we compared Jorge Soler and Gregory Polanco and Parks gave the edge to Polanco, but said it was close.  However, Polanco could appeal more to the Cubs simply because he's a) LH and b) closer to the majors.  Hypothetically, if say the Pirates wanted to make a deal for an MLB ready talent such as Stanton, but the Marlins preferred Soler over Polanco for scouting and marketing reasons, the Cubs could help supplement their trade and perhaps end up with a better fit for their team.   In other words, the Cubs pitch in to the Pirates package with Jorge Soler (and perhaps another prospect) and for their troubles, they wind up with a similar player in Polanco who is a better fit.

The hardest part is over.  The building of the foundation is complete,(though, of course, it needs perpetual replenishing).  But the Cubs accomplished what they set out to do in the first 2 years of this massive rebuilding process.  Now that the foundation is set, the Cubs will find themselves with all kinds of options.

This is where it's going to start to get fun.



Filed under: Rebuilding


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    Or maybe the Cubs just package Jeff Samardzija and Nate Scheirholtz to the Pirates for Polanco and some of their top pitching prospects?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think that's an option if the two sides can't agree this offseason and negotiations appear to be going nowhere.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You know that, given the contract status of Nolasco and the injury statuses of Beckett and Billingsley, it wouldn't shock me if the Dodgers came calling about Shark, and if a package involving Shark could get the Cubs Pederson, Lee and Reed, they'd have to think long and hard about it.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That would indeed deserve a long hard think. Hard to believe that he alone would net a team's top prospect and 2 others in their top 10 though.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    I don't think you'd get them for just him, but hell, look what we got from Texas for Garza, and he and Shark are basically the same pitcher. Only Shark is under control for 2 more seasons.

    I think the Dodgers will be active in the trade market this winter. Ownership has basically said they're done spending money like its going out of style.. Their window is now and the next couple of seasons. Shark makes a lot of sense for them.

  • I love this blog and I am always amazed by the depth of your knowledge, but in this piece I am not as optimistic as you. It is such a crap shoot to invest in prospects and I looked yesterday and at one point in time Mat Gamel was the #23 ranked prospect in all of baseball. I will not say the foundation is built until I start seeing results at the major league level. The only move that has impressed me thus far with the FO is the trade for Travis Wood (which I was against at the time.) I hate to say this but at one point the Cubs had the #1 farm in baseball with Mark Prior, Corey Patterson, Hee See Choi, Bobby Hill and Juan Cruz. I am on board with the rebuilding and I am much more excited about the 2014 draft than the current playoffs, but I am still reserving the right to criticize Epstoyer.

  • In reply to Sandberg2014:

    Thank you Sandberg, I appreciate those kind words.

    Keep in mind though when I say assets, they're assets because they have value. Think too about that the Cubs were able to get Derrek Lee for Choi and Aramis Ramirez/Kenny Lofton for a package around Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez. They were able to get Garciaparra for a top Class A pitching prospect named Justin Jones.

    Think of them as assets and know that the Cubs will scout their own system well and trade the guys who should be traded and keep the ones they think fit best for them.

    I think Epstein and co. have accomplished exactly what they set out to do for the first two years. They built a foundation and have put themselves in a position to significantly improve the team at the MLB level over the next 2 years.

  • In reply to Sandberg2014:

    The biggest problem I always have with that argument (at one point the Cubs had the #1 farm in baseball with Mark Prior, Corey Patterson, Hee See Choi, Bobby Hill and Juan Cruz) is also one of the biggest indictments of Jim Hendry: the Cubs had great scouts, but they suffered greatly from a lack of development and intentionality of vision throughout the organization. Players rose up the system too fast. Managers were always in "win now" mentality, so young players were neglected.

    Prior produced at the big league level, so throwing him into that list seems dishonest. Whether it was improper training or overuse or just plain dumb luck, Prior was a successful pitcher before injuries, as was Wood.

    The point is that while remembering the past is a great caution against expecting every "can't miss" prospect to be a star, we must also be cautious to view the two situations relative to one another. That is, the inverse is also true: just because the farm system didn't produce MLB core players under the old regimes does not mean that they can't or won't under this new regime.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    I agree with you 100% but I bring in those examples because the subject of the article was "The building of the foundation is complete." I live in North Carolina and when they won UNC won the championship in 2005 (3 years after losing in the NIT) the coach said we are still not where we want to be as a program until we do this on a consistent basis. Although, I agree we do have a decent number of prospects that can be converted into other assets I just feel that we have a long way to go before the foundation is set. I will not feel confident in making this claim until we have a winning major league team and a constant stream of elite prospects keep coming up like two other teams in the division.

  • In reply to Sandberg2014:

    I think what you are getting at is that some of these prospects will be required to fill spots on the roster and then the farm system takes a hit and say drop quickly down to middle of road. Baez and Bryant should be knocking on the door and those are top 2 who can't be easily replaced in system. Now 2014 draft with #4 pick will help etc. There are still more holes that are earmarked for Almora etc. Granted we will also see developments in current prospects, but yes it is not complete. I think John just used the wrong wording as I know that he along with myself and others are very excited with how much had been accomplished on the farm in the 2 years. More will come, but the main point of John is that these assets are much easier to work with than a weak team and an even weaker farm system. So yes the excitement will continue to grow but also there will still be some growing pains.

  • As they say on TV, "It's complicated". I, don't share your view that the hard part is over. It is never over. Maintaining a healthy, farm, system, is an, ongoing task., Putting the pieces together is why the FO gets the big bucks. The permutations and combinations are vast. Juggling the works is a job I wouldn't relish. What you say is all ,sensible. I just see it a trying ordeal, which never really ends., Our speculation, here is just idle chatter.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Sure, but maintaining is easier than building from scratch, wouldn't you agree?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As a high school band director, I'm always in rebuilding mode - the younger kids learn a lot, and just when they can really play, they graduate. I can tell you that maintaining is so so so much easier than building an organization. Recruiting is easier, because there is success. Success has a way of breeding more success, and things build from there. The process of maximizing potential in younger individuals becomes commonplace, and institutional memory establishes itself in a positive way. So yeah, they've done that foundational work that establishes a winning culture from the ground up. That's why I was so pleased that 2 of our farm teams made the playoffs, and a couple more were in the hunt right down to the end of their seasons.

  • Thanks for that really inclusive perspective of the process, John. It is going to be fun to watch.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thanks 44, appreciate that. I think the building the foundation part is the hardest part for most -- even a draft/prospect nerd like myself. I think most fans will enjoy the next phase of the rebuild more because it's more likely to produce results at MLB level.

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    BTW, I agree with the premise of this article. They are very close to being at that point where they can make deals from depth in order to shore up areas of need, if they aren't already there. I expect this to be an interesting winter.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks. I think they are either there or very close. I think they'd be conservative about trading top prospects unless it made too much sense not to do it.

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    I just don't have the CarGo love that most seem to have. I agree we need left handed bats but CarGo is a .772 OPS outside of Coors for his career. I don't want to see us give up the farm for him. I'd rather do that for Stanton regardless of handedness.

    I also have to say I'm not liking this idea of trading Beef and replacing him with Salty that seems to be getting legs on Twitter.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    Understood, but keep in mind I'm just using CarGo because he's the one potential fit that I hear will probably be available this offseason. It doesn't have to be him. It can be somebody else.

    Each of these ideas is just one possible avenue, you can be assured the Cubs have many more names in mind than are listed here. We'll come up with more in the next week or so.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I know you're not necessarily advocating for those moves. It's just that both the CarGo and Salty ideas are getting a lot of traction in many places outside of this blog and neither of them really excite me when I think about what we'll most likely have to give up and the amount of production we'll get in return.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    Berryhill got shipped out. Salty switches, and that's a plus. I certainly wouldn't spend a lot to add him. ,I think Beef is our guy., until, he proves otherwise

  • John, great write-up as usual. I love where the organization is headed. I do have to disagree, however that the building of the foundation is complete. Without the presence of a clear-cut TOR starter I perhaps am not as comfortable as you or others may be. Don't get me wrong, I note that Edwards, PJohnson and Blackburn have me excited. But others, Maples, Underwood et al. seem to me to be significant question marks. It seems that we have a bunch of 3-4-5 potential arms in the farm system, which is a good thing to have. Tanaka and/or Price acquisition(s) would go a long way toward changing my outlook on our pitching situation in the future.

  • In reply to C L Dubya:

    Thanks. That's what I refer to as the jigsaw approach in my analogy above. The Cubs may not have all the pieces, but they have tons of assets -- and when you have that, you can get those pitchers. In my example above, I used a LH hitter, but the same process could play out and the Cubs could get James Tallion instead.

  • I am completely opposed to the idea of adding McCann/Salty. Sorry, but if either of those players are added, I will automatically call it a lost off-season.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Just one idea and an example of how the Cubs will leave no rock unturned in their quest to add talent. Can't rule out anything.

    At the same time, I understand. Castillo became my favorite Cubs player this year, not just because of how much he improved, but also because he's such a hard worker, has such a great attitude and personality. He's the kind of guy I'd like to keep for the long haul.

  • Love the foundation that has been built! Love the idea of making a run at Tanaka AS WELL as an established under 30 guy like CarGo or Price! Why not both? The ammo is there. Like you said, John its going to be a fun offseason! I have just one question...

    All the Denizens and fans who don't want to trade anybody for anybody, how are they going to have fun this winter?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Trading people -- especially prospects -- are hard, you're always going to wonder what if. I cringed when Hendry gave in and gave up Archer in the Garza deal, so I can understand the hesitation. I think Hendry also knew he was giving up too much, but he was desperate. I never want the Cubs to make that kind of deal again, but the right deal of prospects can make sense - but it'll always make me nervous.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That was just a tongue in cheek attempt at humor on my part.

    I know trading people is hard, man. So is winning championships, apparently. I'll cringe too if a blue chipper or two get shipped out. Guaranteed. But if you have four of them (!), with another on the way in June, and you're getting a star level grown up back....

    Apples to Oranges though for me with a potential Cargo/Price trade and the Garza deal. Archer wasn't a blue chipper and Garza wasn't a star. Two nice pitchers who's career arcs are probably going to be fairly similar when they're both retired. Obviously NOW it would be nice to have Archer, if you're okay with not having Rosscup, Edwards, Grimm, Olt, and Ramirez that is. Where would our rebuild be without those guys? At the end of the day, Archer didn't get to the big leagues until a year and a half after we traded him and didn't start being productive until two years later, all while the Cubs got 3 cracks at it with a pitcher who was better than Archer during that time. In my opinion, 3 years is a little too far ahead to look. I did not cringe when Archer got included. I was excited to get Garza.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I guess my overall point is that I can understand hesitation but I can't understand vehement opposition. I mean, instead of having a deep system fronted by 5 blue chippers, we'd have a deep system fronted by 3 blue chippers and David Price. Or 4 blue chippers and Cargo. I don't see how some readers think a move like that would be a terrible idea or somehow against the plan. The plan has to be fluid because different players become available at different times for different reasons.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I understood you and I do agree. Can understand the hesitation but sometimes these kinds of moves are necessary.

  • I hope the hard part is over -- if by hard part you mean the worst two-year record in franchise history -- and I believe it is. I have great faith in this FO and I too am very eager and excited to see their next few moves. I just hope they don't out smart themselves and deal any of Top 4. We are much closer than most think which is why the "hard part" if over. A few big moves is all it takes:

    Get CarGO, Tanaka and either Ellsbury, Choo or some other high OBP guy. Based on recent guest post indicating only $70M at moment, there should be enough money to afford all three. This assumes Arrieta is part of trade for CarGO. But I really like this line up (with Baez arriving by June, Bryant late next season or early next and Almora, Soler, Johnson and CJ sometime in 2015:

    LF Lake
    CF Ellsbury (Almora)
    RF Schierholtz (Soler)
    3B Olt (Bryant)
    SS Castro
    2B Barney/Valbuena (Baez)
    1B Rizzo
    C Castillo
    P Shark/Tanaka/Wood/EJax/Hendrix or Grimm or ??? (P.Johnson, CJ Edwards)

    How 'bout that, John? How realistic is this scenario? And am I overly optimistic on Top Prospect arrival dates?

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    So do you have us getting CarGo for Arrieta and a player to be named later??? One of those names you have there in parenthesis will likely be gone if CarGo comes our way.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Given size of GarGo's contract, I believe we can get him for Arrieta and two lesser prospects, not in Top 10.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I believe you are pretty far off in your trade value assesment. If you want to build a trade that includes Arieta as the only MLB ready talent, then you'll have to throw in Soler and probably someone else in the top 10 too.

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    Ben and Pete: Look at the thread from John' s September 21 post on CarGo rumors. Apparently, Rockies really like Arrieta and others, including John, suggested Arrieta and Vogelbomb might be enough to get him. I would absolutely walk away from Arrieta and any of our top 4, but would do it for Arrieta and either Vogelbach or Alcantara, but not both. And given $$ CarGo is due, I gotta think Rockies are motivated sellers:

    2014 28 $10,500,000
    2015 29 $16,000,000
    2016 30 $17,000,000
    2017 31 $20,000,000

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Well I hope you are right. I would do the trade even if it was Arieta, Vogelbomb and Alcantara.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    C'mon. You don't really believe that.

  • I think the offense needs a steady veteran presence, and I'm not talking about a journeyman platoon player like Schierholtz. I believe the Nationals overpaid for Werth, but on the other hand, he provided something to that team that was sorely lacking in playoff experience and tremendous leadership.

    I'm a Choo guy, I can't hide that. But if he's not "the guy", or he becomes too expensive, then I'm starting to come around to the Ellsbury idea. But I sure don't think, for his injury history and his career slugging numbers, that he's worth as much as Choo. He's not a 6-figure guy, not for any team. I also don't want him for his speed, because that's going to go away. I like his defense at a premium position, and he's a good guy with plenty of playoff experience and success.

    Both of the above fill a major requirement - OBP and a lefty bat. Plus speed - we don't have a prototypical leadoff guy anywhere else. And obviously, aside from catcher, we stand to have some room in the outfield.

    There just aren't a lot of guys who fit this description, even in trade. If we let go of the leadoff man concept, we could go after Ethier or CarGo.

    I just think that despite the fact that we'd love not to spend, this may be a crucial time to do so. Call it an investment that is likely to pay off in ways that cannot be measured.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Good post, Hack. I like Choo more than Ellsbury but neither one on a 100MM deal. They'll both get close to if not eclipse that.

    Unlike you, I don't put a ton of stock in the prototypical lead off man theory. There really aren't that many of them anywhere these days. Divisions as we all know can be won with Soriano at the top of the order. Ellsbury fits nicely right now at the top of a line up. As you pointed out though, speed goes away. If you're a player with Ellsbury's skill set, if your speed goes away so does your defensive prowess and your status as a prototypical lead off man.

    Great point about this being a crucial time to open it up. Hopefully they make a run at all the best guys out there on the trade market. Won't land them all but hopefully we get some better players in here!

  • This is a good summary regarding the Cubs now being at a branching off point. My worry is that you're a year early and that this will apply more to this time next year.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    It might. I do expect the Cubs to add a significant piece or two. I also think they will work the phones looking for trades.

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    Good summary, though looking around the NL Central, we're going to have to be really good to compete. The NL Central is turning into the new AL-East from a talent perspective.

    CARDINALS have tons of young talent, and a top-end rotation of Miller, Wacha, and Martinez, not to mention that Wainwright guy. Ouch.
    PIRATES have NL MVP, plus Cole, and a top-5 farm system, just like the Cubs. Cole/Taillon are a great potential 1-2.
    REDS have jettisoned Dusty, and have another TOR prospect in Stephenson. Not to mention Billy Hamilton (they do have holes to fill, though, due to Choo/Arroyo FA)
    BREWERS are slumping and look like future doormats, but if Braun bounces back they won't be totally helpless

    I worry about Cards and Pirates, especially Cards; we are going to have to really put our hats on to compete in this division

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think that's a big reason why the Cubs are going to have to continue utilizing and finding new ways to utilize their biggest asset that the other teams in the NL Central do not have: big market $$. Some avenues have been cut off or limited now, but they're going to have to continue to find ways to take advantage of being a big market team.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Wait until the Cardinals add Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez.

  • I think in July 2014 would be a better time to trade some of our
    prospects, because by then we would know which ones
    are part of our "Core" players

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That could well be the case. I think the Cubs would really feel like they were getting good value to trade their prospects this offseason.

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    PITCHING: I agree with your analysis John, but we are still lacking top-end pitching. CJ Edwards seems to be the only TOR starting prospect in our system, and even then middle-rotation is a safer projection. The next draft is heavy in college arms, barring a major upset I hope we take one at #4. I can't fault FO for taking Bryant, I think we will like that move, but Gray also looked dominant so far this year.

    We have alot of live arms, bullpen candidates, and some mid or bottom rotation pitching prospects (Johnson, Hendricks), but the playoffs shine a light on how important it is to have that shutdown guy.

    And acquiring Price....I have my doubts on him. The drop in velocity is a concern. And it would take Baez + more to get him.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Thanks. To me it's simply about acquiring the best assets. I think you just get the best players when you can. Most scouts still seem to think Bryant is the better player. You can always use assets to acquire more assets. I don't think you ever settle for a lesser player because of need. When the time is right, I'm sure the Cubs will use some of their assets to get a top starter if they still need one.

  • As far as this off season goes I do not want to give up draft picks to sign anyone, I don't care if it's a second rounder. I like this upcoming draft a lot and I don't think there's a player out there that the cubs should be giving up picks for.

    I also love the idea of making trades because they can be very exciting at times and I think certain guys absolutely need to go. IMO Barney needs to be traded this offseason with Watkins already up and alcantara/Baez knocking on the door. I also think that if samardzija and the fo can't come to an agreement he should be shipped out as well, hopefully they can be packaged together.

    I really love the idea of trading for a legit corner outfielder as rizzo needs protection in the lineup. I like cargo if the demands are reasonable.

    I'm also hoping that the cubs will entertain signing a lhp for the bullpen, just to add a little more stability. I know that they want to build the pen internally and cheaply but one bp arm on a 2 year deal could really help save arms like Russell and strop from getting overworked

  • The hard part for the Cubs is the fact that they have potential elite or 'impact' talent at nearly every position in the minors - and a lot of those guys have the potential to fill various spots (i.e Baez could be SS, 2B, 3B, LF, RF. Obviously, his value is greatest in the middle infield). This is compounded by the fact that most of these players haven't yet reached AA. . We can all play the 'what will the Cubs' lineup look like in 2016' game, but none of those are realistic. What the FO needs to do is make a call on which prospects they believe will come the closest to their ceiling - keep them - and leverage the remaining guys for trade bait. Nobody should know the Cubs' system and prospects better than the FO.

    What both concerns me and also makes me excited for the future, are the number of balls the Cubs have in the air. Its a concern, because there are so many critical things in the works and their is risk associated with having to many things going on; and its exciting because if they hit on a few of them - it could turn the organization around in a hurry. Lining up and executing on the following are important:
    - Continued development and promotion of prospects
    - The development of the coaching on the farm (Derek Johnson, etc.)
    - Getting Rizzo / Castro / Shark back on track and developing into impact talent
    - #4 pick in 2014 draft and the potential for a top-10 in 2015.
    - New manager
    - Stadium renovation and revenue streams associated with this
    - TV Deal (the 40% block due up after 2014 and potential renegotiation of 2019 deal with CSN)
    - Payroll flexibility - specifically, the end to the legacy contracts (Sori after 2014)

    As an aside, and less important than most of the above, I'd I think Theo has a chance to capitalize on the CBA, specifically the protected top-10 pick. If Theo can time it right, he can go out and make a FA splash and retain the their top pick. Its basically Theo making the bet that the Cubs won't have a top-10 slot in the future, so now is the time to capitalize on the FA market while maintaining the top pick. Is this off season that time...?

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    good post, the thing I disagree with is getting a top 10 pick in 2015. The Cubs are not going to be that bad next season.

  • In reply to John57:

    I hope not. I guess it depends on the players they sign / trade for, which impacts 2014 record, which goes back to my point about Theo timing the last year we will have a top-10 (thus protected) pick.

    Tanaka seems like the best fit for the Cubs as he is not tied to draft pick compensation. Lets say we win the posting ~$45M and sign him to 5/$60M = $105M. Does Theo make the call that with Tanaka and the rest of the rotation + bounce back of Castro / Rizzo = enough to get us out of a top-10 pick? Does Theo say, 'This is it boys, top-10 picks are history so we need to move now and sign a big FA that will only cost us our 2nd round pick...?'

    Yet another nuance that Theo has to think through. Say we don't sign a big name FA and we manage to finish outside of the bottom 10 records - we have just lost an opportunity to sign a FA and not give up our 1st rounder.

    I'd think this would be a top of mind issue for Theo - since he knows the value of protecting the first pick. Its something good organizations never have the ability to capitalize on.

    Caveat being that we could give a QA to a free agent and get someone else's 1st round pick (if they don't have a top-10 pick of course.) Not sure who that would be though....

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I am with you on Tanaka. He would be a fantastic pick up. It will not be easy though. I think you are a little low on the posting fee. I am guessing in the 60M range. I think the total cost will easily be over 100M.

    As for the record next year. I see our bullpen very much improved, the defense is improved and the rotation better if we get Tanaka. The offense is the weak link. It depends on who Theo can pick up in the off season and how all the young guys progress under our new manager who will be good developing the young guys. So I think we will see a good improvement in our record even if we don't pick up much in a trade.

  • Here yesterdays 4 way trade with my specials touches

    DBacks get:
    Stanton (Marlins)

    Pirates get:
    Owing SS (AZ)
    Nate Scheirholtz (CHI)
    Logan Morrison (Pit)

    Marlins get
    Almora (CHI)
    Soler (CHI)
    Davidson (AZ)
    Jake Lamb (AZ)
    Jake Barrett (AZ)
    Alcantara (CHI)

    Cubs get
    Archie Bradley (AZ)
    Polanco (Pit)
    Andrew Oliver (Pit)

    This would allow the Cubs to trade Samardajza to Royals for Zimmer and Miguel Almonte.

    Sign Tanaka and Salty.

    Trade for CarGo send Arrieta, Castillo, and Voelbach to Rockies.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    It would take too many GM's with the guts (balls) to make this happen

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    True but look at the GMs involved.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Lots of moving parts there but I like the creativity.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I doubt it could happen. But I think its fair to all parties.

  • Theo and Co. have be putting together a 3 year puzzle and this
    is the year to put the final pieces together. In 2014 we will be
    ready to move on to a new puzzle

  • You know, it's funny -- now that the Cubs have a stellar farm system, my gut reaction is "Noooo! You can't trade any of our stud prospects away! They're ours!"

    I know this is inherently silly, as that's part of why these prospects were acquired in the first place, but the illogical, emotional feeling is still there.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    You are not the only one, but I am coming to grips that some will be traded and of course mistakes will be made in trades. Just have to have the faith as we don't have anything else at the moment. I think a lot will become clearer by trade deadline next year and see who we got in the draft.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Believe me, I know how you feel!

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    I enjoy this blog... It's a nice example of civility and really thoughtful dialogue in an internet full of the opposite.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Thanks Phil!

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    Two items folks.

    #1) Brandon Sisk was just released by the Angels. He's a lefty with some pretty good #'s that was part of the Ervin Santana trade from the Royals. He had Tommy John surgery last Spring. He's going to be 28 years old. Do we take on another project for another possible lefty out of the bullpen?

    #2) One thing that no one has really touched on much is the significant drop in attendance (600K over 2 years). I know we wanna believe that Theo can just do as Theo likes on the baseball side with no interference, but he's gotta be getting pressure from the operations side of the house. Could this be the catalyst from which a few more risks are taken are trades are sought out?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I think if the Cubs improve the next couple years like they think they will, attendance/ticket revenue will more than recover. Also I don't think ticket revenue is as important as TV revenue. This is what a white sox friend of mine always says. I tell him even at these depressed attendance levels, the Cubs still draw 50% more than his white sox team. Not something I lose sleep over. Just let Theo and co. do what they think is best for the team.

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    In reply to John57:

    I hear ya about the TV revenues. But I think the WGN deal still has 2 years to go (may be wrong about the time frame). In the long run I also agree that the Cubs will be getting many of these fans back when the team starts winning.

    But comparing the Cubs and White Sox are like apples and oranges. If the White Sox just lost 600K in attendance over the past two years they might as well move out of Chicago because the only folks at the stadium would be the hot dog vendors. lol

    I guess I'm just getting excited about what the Cubs will do over this winter. I really do expect at least one big trade to go down. And odds are it will be Shark.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Yes, to these type of pickups if there is move on the 40-man
    roster or a spring training invite

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    I think the FA market is definitely in our immediate future but I don't see us trading for veterans soon.
    I don't think we can justify the combination of pieces and motivation that other teams can.

    But I can see us moving Shark for advanced prospects. Hopefully we can trade Shierholtz too because...ugh.

  • I would really like to see the team hold off on blockbuster trades until after the draft next year. However, I understand if there is pressure from the ownership to get asses back in the seats asap.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Agree, I don't think Theo will make any big move just to please
    the fans or media.. Our time will come

  • Pumped for the off-season. It has been a long couple of years. But they were also interesting, in that we got to watch a new FO completely turn around a farm system pretty quickly.

  • I agree that the Cubs are moving onto a new phase in their rebuilding plan, simply because they have cashed in their veteran trading chips. This offseason will be significant only because they will install a new manager and coaching staff. I really don't see them being active in the FA market, and while their phones will be ringing with trade proposals, the most likely calls will be low-ball offers for Castro, Rizzo and Samardzija.

    However, I wholeheartedly agree with John that it will be very interesting to see where the Cubs are at during the trade deadline next year. If the FO can safely say they have surplus inventory at SS, for example, it will no doubt be used to fill other areas where they have a shortfall as he says. Yet, I doubt they will be looking to bring in high-salaried veterans like Cargo or Price. Rather, if the Reds should call about Castro, the conversation can start with names like Leak, Cingrani, Hoover and LeCure; all ML pitchers that would immediately help fill an urgent need and not limit their options to spend big when they get to the point where they need one key player to put them over the top.

  • Cubs just signed Sweeney to 2+1 years. Good move

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Saw that. Will have some new stuff up later.

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    Looks like the Cubs have signed Ryan Sweeney to a 2 year deal. Place holder for Almora?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I hope Nate for 2 yr is next

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Don't we already have Schierholz under contract for 2014?

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    In reply to John57:

    Nate is under team control for 2014, but is arbitration eligible and currently not under contract.

  • Settlers of Cataan,? As long as we don't trade Rizzo for 2 bricks and a sheep.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    LOL ;)

  • Lets hope signing Nate to 2 yr is next

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    He likely just had his career year and will be in his 30 year old season next year, will only be year two of having a starting job in the mlb, is an absolute platoon player, hit only 250/300/470, and faded hard down the stretch when pitchers started to figure out how to attack him. Not a guy you buy an arbitration year of, as he is still arb eligible for next season. In all honesty, the guy he became the second half of the season is easily replaceable. I would rather give the money and spot to sweeney if it ever came to choosing one or the other.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I second that. I think Nate can serve us better as a throw-in on a potential deal this offseason. I expect our outfield to shuffle a lot in the next 18 months, I like that Sweeney can play all 3 positions while Nate was an above-average defender in only right field. I don't see either as starters on this team when it contends, but I could see Sweeney in a Jim Edmonds '08 type of role as soon as this year.

  • In reply to Theo Einstein:

    Nate faded last year at the end because he was hurt and played through it. He had a sore shoulder the 2nd half of the year. He probably will be healthy for the start of next year. I would not be too quick to trade him. Even hurt he was our most productive hitter this last year.

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    In reply to John57:

    That doesn't change the fact that he's not very good. We were (and are) one of the top 3 worst offenses in the league.

    OUR most productive hitter isn't really a respectable thing to be. We don't need to be wasting multi year deals in a platoon only player.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I think he is still under team control next year. I did not say give him a multi year deal. For what he was paid he produced very well in 2013 and he was not 100%. The team was very pleased with him. I don't think he will be just given away as a throw in for some trade as proposed above.

  • It is way to early to start making trades or figuring out who is gonna be contributing to a major league team. If we unload Soler, Almora, Volgel, Alcanatra, and Arrettia. The reason I am excited about the Cubs is because of these guys and a few others. We finally have one of the best farm systems around and people want to pawn them off. I want to see how these guys slowly develop and get to the big leagues. Let these guys develop and then see what are weaknesses are and make a move.

    If you could move Jackson that would be great. I would rather sign Choo or Elsberry and pay a little much then trade big name prospects for proven players. These kids belong to the the Cubs!!!

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Totally agree, I don't want another Carter for Sutcliffe trade

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    The Sutcliffe-Carter trade made sense to me because it put them over the top, that year. This team is nowhere near that close to competing. So I'd agree that this isn't the time for that kind of trade.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Sutcliffe's last few years with the Cubs he stole their money

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I have no regrets of Sutcliffe-Carter trade, none whatsoever. The 1984 season was the most glorious of them all. First time the Cubs had won anything since 1945. And Sut went 16-0, didn't he? And I'll never forget Game One and that homer he hit. Also, not positive about this, but he also anchored the 1989 playoff team as well. Last two years he was injured. Sorry to see anyone ragging on him. One of my favorite Cubs of all time. All class.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    The trading of Carter and Palmeiro are the worst 2 in my 40 yr
    of following the Cubs. Too soon to trade any of our top potential

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    Maddux and 18 game winner Bielecki anchored the 89 staff.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That trade was all about winning in 1984. They wouldn't have won the division without him, so it worked in that respect. Those kind of trades aren't made with the long haul in mind, so much as the right now.

    You can look at the Nats shutting down Strasburg last year and see that just because you're on the cusp one year is no guarantee you'll be in the race the next year.

    Those situations and where the Cubs are now is kind of apples and oranges, in my opinion.

  • In my opinion, if they start making their move this off-season, they've making it a year early. There are still questions about the guys who make up the core, in a lot of people's mind. They are surely capable of bouncing back next year but still, they have to show it.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    You can't get all of your pieces from outside of the organization in one year when you are "ready". You must analyze every big FA and trade possibility and determine if the price right now is better than it will be in the future. If Cargo (just as an example) is available "cheaper" now than a player relatively similar to his caliber will be two years from now, then now is the right time to pull the trigger.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    That's a good point but another way to look at it is that your farm guys are likely to bring more in return, a year later. As an example, (assuming he keeps progressing) a Dan Vogelbach would bring a better return as a AA or AAA guy than he is likely to as an A guy.

    I'm not saying don't add anybody this winter, I just don't want to see the farm stripped again, ala the Garza deal. It'd be Hendry 2.0.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    I tend to agree that this winter is not the year to do it, but if the market becomes lowered for any of the players that have been mentioned here, i think you strongly consider pulling the trigger a year earlier than expected.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I just don't think this is the winter for trades. If you want free agents, then I am ok with that. We have no idea who will be our building pieces. If we trade some away and the others don't pan out or get hurt then we are in trouble. I would rather let them develop and then see what we need and if we have a surplus then pull the trigger. Players like cargo and price will be available every off season.

  • What are the chances that the Cubs would go after Nelson Cruz? It seems like his cost should be low coming off his PED suspension and when he stays healthy he's a game-changer. If they saved money/years with him, as opposed to meeting Choo or Ellsbury's demands, we would have some extra money for a better run at Tanaka. I know he's well past his prime, but he can still mash.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    He will likely cost at least 3/$35M plus our 2nd round pick. Doubt Theo would go there, but he is an interesting FA.

    I expect the Dodgers to sign him to a 5/$80M deal as they continue to corner the market on OF:)

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    I'd be interested if he's not offered a qualifying offer.

    I don't take too much stock into the "out of prime". People act like guys who out of their prime can't be helpful. He's a veteran who can hit. We need a OF. Any combo of Lake, Schierholtz, Sweeney and Bogey is saying we're gearing up for another 90 loss season.

    As far as the PED's, it's not a big deal to me. He did his time.

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    I really like the Sweeney re-signing. He's not being over paid and if he plays as well as he did last year he's a bargain and a valuable trade chip.

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    I am surprised that Sweeney chose to sign rather than test the market, but I suppose he wanted a guarantee after bouncing around alot. Plus, he's from Iowa, so sort-of local.

    Will Sweeney continue to show the power he did last year? Because prior to last year, he showed just about none, which is why he was available.

  • Don't sign a mid-aged FA and give up our 2nd draft pick

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agreed. Especially one with a PED history.

  • John, There seems to be two major assumptions regarding trades and I'm wondering if they are valid. Most seem to believe both Castro and Rizzo just had bad years. I'm not sure about that. If their troubles continue into next year than some changes will be necessary. I can see an eventual trade of Vogelbach. But would it be better to wait until Castro and Rizzo come back and wait until after next season when V has more value?

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    I think this is a good point. The Cubs' core isn't really the core, if Castro and Rizzo don't bounce back. I believe both can but they have to do it. They have to show that this year was an anomaly rather than a trend. If this year turns out to have been a trend (and I don't think it will but none of us know), then they'd have to rethink their core.

  • My ideal off-season version 1.0:

    Sign Shin-Soo Choo (4-years; $60-million)
    Sign Corey Hart (3-years; $20 million)
    Sign Omar Infante (2-years; $16 million)
    Sign Joe Smith (2-years; $8 million)

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    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    We had Infante once. Hendry gave him away almost as quickly as he acquired him.

    I'm also not sure why you want to double the salary of a 32 yr old utility man. Infante currently makes just $4 mil yr. Your other numbers are way off too. Hunter Pence just signed for 5 years and $90 mil. Choo will get at least that and probably more. Hart has made $19 mil over the last two years, he won't take a 3/21 deal. And Joe Smith? I'm not sure why we need a power forward. lol (I know, I know. Different guy)

  • Any trade that has the Cubs getting Gonzalez with Arrieta as a centerpiece is wishful thinking. You have to give up real talent to get an all-star in his prime. His contract is not a factor. He's signed for several more years and he's worth it for the production he puts up. He gets paid what an all-star OF should get paid. This isn't a Soriano contract with someone on the steep decline of a career.

    People complain that we shouldn't give up players for Gonzalez because he makes too much. People complain that we shouldn't give up players for Price because he's "only" signed for two more years (yet they want a haul of prospects for Shark, a far inferior pitcher also controlled for two more years) People complain that we shouldn't give up players for Stanton because it's going to cost too much.

    I think I figured it out. Seems like people want a prime major leaguer who is signed for several more years at a cheap rate, that would at most cost Soler and a couple spare parts.

    Just because Colorado has interest in a project like Arrieta doesn't mean they are going to trade one of their best players for him. I'm sure the Cubs have interest in a lot of projects but we're not going to give up Castro to get them. Arrieta is one more 5 ERA season from being out of baseball. It would be a monumental failure for the Rockies front office to even consider a deal like that.

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    In reply to Yemi:

    Nailed it..... Trades have to work for both sides. And you're fearful of trading away any of our guys, sit back and enjoy another 70 win season.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    U add cargo to the cubs. How many wins is he gonna be accountable for?

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    Since we're talking trade...I know the Angels are desperate for starting pitching and I'm surprised they haven't been mentioned as a possible destination for Samardzija, who is one of my least favorite Cubs. The Halos have deep pockets to counter Samardzija's impending arbitration, and Shark is still under team control for two more years.

    I was talking trade scenarios with my good friend Vince last night and we came up with what we believe to be a mutually equitable trade. Samardzija, and perhaps a role player or lesser prospect to the Angels for RHP Mark Sappington, who possesses a plus FB and slider, and one of two infielders. Either switch hitting 3B kaleb Cowart or LH hitting 2B Taylor Lindsey.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    As far as trading Shark, I would want to see the Cubs bring back a TOR SP if they deal him. He doesn't have the value of Price at this point, and the Rays wouldn't want to exchange one expensive pitcher for another who is on the verge of becoming similarly expensive. But a three-way trade might work. If the Cubs sent Samardzija to Arizona for instance, and then sent TB a couple young players along with the guys they get from the DB's, they could replace a guy they don't think they can sign with a legit ace.

    That said, I wonder what it would take to get Bradley from the DB's. How close to even would Bradley for Samardzija be?

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    In reply to WSorBust:

    mark Sappington definitely projects as a top of the rotation starter. My worry is that I was being greedy asking the Angels for two of their top 5 prospects.

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    In reply to WSorBust:

    Caps just told me that Theo said he wanted Skaggs and Bradley for Samardzija. (Click. Dial tone.)

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Wouldn't be shocked if they would hang-up after only hearing Skaggs name.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That was Theo's way of saying we're not trading him.

  • I agree that it will take more than Arietta to get Cargo and I wouldn't want the Cubs to give up much more because of the previously mentioned history of injuries and the home/road splits I understand securing a couple stars or semi-star players to anchor the team and provide veteran leadership, but for me it has to be the right veteran players, not guys with a couple large red flags.

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    If he didn't have any red flags they he wouldn't be available. Whether it be injuries, home/road splits, contract cost, age, attitude, years left on contract etc.

    There's always going to be something. And if there isn't something like Trout for example, he's not going to be available.

  • Don't overheat the hot-stove. You might get burned.

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