GM Meetings Start: What to Expect from the Cubs

GM Meetings Start:  What to Expect from the Cubs
Andrew Bailey

The GM meetings used to have more of an administrative bent, stuff like rules and procedures which may not move the needle with most of us but they could spark some pretty serious discussion among baseball honchos. That part of the meetings still exists but the GM meetings have also become a place where teams increasingly discuss transactions with agents and with other teams.

I expect that the Cubs won't do much in the way of big moves this week -- that is, unless a team blows them away, of course. We talked about some of the minor moves the Cubs might make in terms of position players this past weekend. They may make similar moves in terms of pitchers. The Cubs are said to be looking for a starter and some bullpen help.  We've looked at some starters before, so let's take a look at a few bullpen arms.

Bullpen arms

We have a pretty good idea of what the Cubs look for -- power arms in general, good athletes, good command, good makeup. Of course, everyone wants those guys and nobody is going to give them away, so the Cubs will probably have to get a bit creative. The scouts may have to dig up a find and let Chris Bosio get to work to transform an arm with unfulfilled potential into one that can be a useful part of the Cubs bullpen. Perhaps the Cubs can find another Strop, Parker, or Rondon via trade or minor signing.

One interesting arm that a scout mentioned to me was Tommy Hunter of the Orioles. He's due a big raise in arbitration and has many of the attributes the Cubs like, including excellent command and a fastball that averaged 96 mph last year out of the pen. Prying him loose cheaply from a contending team may not be so easy, but he's an outside the box idea for a potential future closer. He's just 27.

Other potential non-tenders include John Axford, who has recently closed for the Milwaukee Brewers, posting 105 saves between 2010 and 2012, including a career high 46 in 2011.  Axford had a rough year last season but the peripherals are passable (3.56 xFIP) and he has experience in the closer role, which isn't essential, but may provide a transition period for either Pedro Strop or Justin Grimm.  Command has always been something of an issue for Axford but he still averaged 95 mph on his fastball, so the arm strength is still there.

The Cubs could offer Andrew Bailey the closer role if the Red Sox non-tender him.  He only pitched 28 innings with the Red Sox but is still relatively young at 29.  His command is average but Bailey can still miss a ton of bats, as his 12.24 Ks/9 IP would attest.  However, Bailey isn't getting those swings and misses with his fastball anymore.  He's been much more reliant on his curveball, a pitch that isn't as easy to command consistently.  Bailey also had some issues with the long ball and put up a 3.77 ERA, but normalizing his HR rate and using xFIP (3.20), he projects well for next season if he can stay healthy.

Former top Braves LH reliever Jonny Venters is on the comeback trail and may make an interesting flyer candidate.  Venters had outstanding seasons in 2010 and 2011, though he did outpitch his peripherals a bit.  He tends to walk batters and in 2011 he was aided by a low BABIP and a high strand rate.  It caught up to him in 2012 a bit, but he was still productive.  I think that's the Venters minus a few HR balls, that we should probably expect if he's healthy.

If you want a real flyer from the Braves, former top prospect Tommy Hanson seems intriguing but he's lost some velo off that good fastball because of injuries and while he's not wild, his fringe average fastball these days doesn't let him get away with as much as he used to.  Unless a year of health and short bursts out of the bullpen put some oomph back into that heater, I don't see him as anything but a middle reliever at this point.

Kevin Jepsen has a live arm (96 mph FB) and seemed to junk his slider in favor of a cutter last season to go with his change.  He put up a 4.50 ERA but the 3.38 FIP is encouraging.  He's still just 29 years old.

Any big moves?

It's entirely possible (if unlikely) that the Cubs may want to strike early on a free agent they have identified as a top target.  Masahiro Tanaka isn't available yet. Boras clients like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are long shots -- and he almost never signs early with his top free agents.  That's not to say the Cub can't check in and gauge interest and feasibiilty, especially on Ellsbury, who would seem to be the better fit long term, but any serious movement on the top free agent front would be surprising to say the least.

If rumors are true and the Cubs are indeed interested in bringing in a LH catcher like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, now would be the time to find out.  The reason for that is that such a signing would require a second major move -- the trading of Welington Castillo.  Saltalamacchia has made it clear he prefers to return to the Red Sox but the return interest has been lukewarm.  The Red Sox are reportedly eyeing Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz, though that could very well be just a negotiating ploy.  My guess is that Salty returns to Boston.  At any rate, we may learn something on that front this week.

Big moves themselves are unlikely but it is a time to lay down groundwork.  The Cubs aren't expected to actively shop their core players around, but they are almost certainly willing to listen and getting a read on their market value.  Will teams call on Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo, and Jeff Samardzija?  Sure, why wouldn't they?  Does that mean the Cubs are looking to trade them?  Not necessarily.  It would take a huge offer to pry those guys loose.

As we were reminded during the On Deck 14 presentation, the Cubs are in the business of collecting young, cost-controlled talent and have been trying to move in the direction of a more youthful, cost efficient team.  The more cost-efficient your talent is, the more you can squeeze on to your payroll.

Epstein and the Cubs have traded eight veteran players with a combined four years of control left with an average age of 32.5.  They have converted that into 14 players averaging 23 years old with 78 combined years of control.   I don't expect the Cubs to suddenly reverse that trend.

They also have precious little of that at the MLB level, so if teams are going to ask for those commodities from the Cubs, they better need to provide the Cubs with surplus value in terms of long term talent.  I find that possibility unlikely this offseason.  But with a tight payroll, the Cubs may need to get creative, so we can't completely rule out those kinds of surprises.

The Samardzija situation

One person kind of caught in between is Jeff Samardija.  He's young and has been called a core player, but he also only has 2 years of cost-control left and there doesn't seem to be an extension on the horizon.  The Cubs would be a bit more motivated to listen on Samardzija than the younger, more cost-controlled players.  We know the Diamondbacks have shown interest and we've mentioned the Nationals, Royals, and Pirates in the past.   Today, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post confirms the Nats are interested in Samardzija.  The Cubs main prize there would be Lucas Giolito, a player that I was told they had a great deal of interest in a couple of years ago, but backed off when injuries became a concern.  He's a high ceiling pitcher that comes with a fair amount of risk, so it may be more plausible than trying to obtain an Archie Bradley type.

As to why the Nationals would be interested in Samardzija rather than David Price, our guy Kevin said it succinctly,

"Here is how teams view Samardzija. He is a less expensive opinion. Where the other two will cost 3 to 4 very good prospects, Samardzija will cost 1 to 2."

The added interest in Samardzija can only benefit the Cubs.  One source tells me the Nats plan on making an offer he believes the Cubs cannot turn down.  For me, that means it has to involve Giolito.  The Cubs aren't going to give away their talent.  Teams will call, the Cubs should at least listen...but I'm not expecting anything earth shattering this week.

The Price on Price

The David Price scenario that was bandied about in the comments section yesterday makes for nice discussion, but the 28 year old Price is cost-controlled for two years and would cost the Cubs a lot in terms of prospects, control, and depth.  It would be due diligence to see if Price would be willing to sign an extension first to recoup some of that control, but questions still remain.  He'll be 31 when that contract expires.  Are the Cubs close enough to contention to acquire a pitcher whose best remaining years will almost certainly come as the Cubs are still rebuilding?  Should the Cubs be concerned about a significant 2 mph drop in Price's velocity to go with a drop in strikeouts and groundballs and an increase in line drives and flyballs?  That's not for me to decide, but I do think the Cubs need to tread cautiously here.  The Rays have no intention of selling Price on the cheap.  That's not to say the Cubs won't kick the tires but it's easy for me to envision an old school team ignoring those trends, especially one on the brink of contention, and making a significant overpay in terms of long term value.  It's harder for me to envision the Cubs doing that.

All in all, I expect the Cubs to make some minor signings that I will probably get a little too excited about and lay the groundwork for bigger deals down the road.

But one thing we've learned about this front office is that they can still surprise us with some of their moves, so we'll be following closely as always.

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  • Hope we don't get involved with Price.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    Agreed. If the Cubs were actually going to be a legit contender next year, or maybe into 2015 - trading some of the prospect pool for him, along with maybe a Castro (whom I don't want to see traded at this point btw) might be a good idea.

    As I don't see a real contending Cubs team until at least 2015 - more likely 2016 - the cost to getting a Price, who may in fact be in decline now is too high.

  • Should try to offer one year deals to right handed hitting OF Rajai Davis and Chris Young. Also try to get switch hitting 2b Kelly Johnson on a one year deal. These guys can play until some of the prospects are ready. They would add some speed and power to the line up. Also try to resign Navarro. Then you could non-tender Scheirholz (.299 OBP way too low) and Barney. Also sign someone like Benoit for the pen. I think rotation is ok. Let Rusin and Villenueva battle it out for 5th spot. With these moves, I believe we can be a decent team as we add in prospects during 2014.

  • In reply to Craig:

    I really like the Chris Young idea. I'm a Kelly Johnson fan (he's only a LH hitter, btw), but not sure he can provide enough offense anymore to make up for his lack of defense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Chris Young does take a lot of walks and has some speed/power. If he does get his avg back up to .250 he could be nice pick up. How bad of a 2b is Kelly Johnson? His offense would sure look nice.

  • In reply to Craig:

    He's not horrible but below average, but the Cubs really rely on their infield defense. They teach their pitchers to throw two seamers low in the zone, they need someone to back them up.

  • In reply to Craig:

    Not too sure about non-tendering Schierholtz... He hit 68RBIs in 462ABs... Just about the best output of any player on the team...

    I'm a big fan of OBP, but if somebody is bringing the guys home - and his stats extrapolate to over 100RBIs if an every day guy then I think we'd be crazy to non-tender.

    Similarly I'm down on Barney's production too but he is league average in RBI for position and way above average if you add the runs saved by his glove... There is no point making changes for the sake of it in a year we will be very fortunate to be in a sniff of the Wild Card come August...

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    That is because Schierholz was hitting in middle of order. 68 rbi's are not that impressive for a middle of order hitter. My point is if you could find some OFs with better OPB of .299, cut him loose and use salary for someone more useful.

  • In reply to Craig:

    Again I can't agree... If Schierholtz was getting the ABs as an every day player - say 650 plus - he would be giving a production of around 100RBIs... which is elite level.

    As it was and despite playing only part of the time he came in 78th in RBIs of all players (and 12th as Rightfielder) last year. On that basis and the basis of his 2014 Salary being around $3million I'd say we'd be mad to release him. DeJesus has just signed up for double that with far less output.

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    In reply to Craig:

    Not only in the middle of the order but as a platoon for a reason. It is not fair to extrapolate out to 100 RBI when he is noticeably worse against lefties... That being said he is a very solid platoon and I think a non-tender would be crazy... He has value on a rebuilding team, especially in July if someone wants to offer a lower level prospect for the remainder of his services.... The only way we pay the rest of his salary is if we're in contention and if that is the case we have the money to spare.

  • In reply to Craig:

    Agree. We need a RBI bat from the right side in the outfield. Plus some quality FA arms like Baker, Feldman or similar...players we can control.

  • In reply to Craig:

    Don't agree on Schierholz.

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    Adam Kilgore has a great article indicating that the Nationals should consider Samardzjia. I go back to Kevin Gallo linking the Cubs to a possible deal for Giolito and another player.

    My guess is that rumor gains some steam this week, while I think the Castro rumors die on the vine.

    I think the Cubs would grab Bailey if he's available. Epstein indicated they are looking for an ideal situation in which to grab a potential closer. That would be a great fit I'd think if he gets non-tendered. I think a trade between Boston and Chicago is highly unlikely.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Yes, I actually just updated the piece and am still looking for stuff. We've known about the Nats for awhile and a great job by Kevin there.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I'm reading a lot of stuff that says that we are in a new hot stove era where blockbuster trades outpace blockbuster FA signings.

    Other than Tulowitzki to the Cardinals, which I think is preposterous, have you heard any other NL Central trade rumors?

    Also at the meetings this week, do you know if the trading of draft picks is up for discussion? I would think a rule change that would allow that would dramatically change the hot stove landscape this year.

  • I wonder if the Cubs would consider Matt Kemp. 21 million a year through 2019. But with the price of free agents going sky high and Kemp only 29, he may be a good gamble. He is available and may not cost a big four prospect if we take on contract.

  • In reply to Craig:

    Kemp is very good and the Dodgers are not going to just give him away. He will cost prospects and his contract is large to boot. He is very injury prone too. I say spend that money on Tanaka. We need pitching more than declining expensive injury prone outfielders.

  • In reply to John57:

    Dodgers are apparently "listening to offers" on Kemp, Crawford, and Ethier. They have Puig and another prospect about to enter the equation.

    Guessing they would offload Crawford for salary relief, maybe the same for Ethier. Kemp might cost something in the way of prospects/younger talent.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Maybe Edwin Jackson and a prospect for Andre Either. He is a good OBP hitter

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    In reply to Craig:

    Either is the guy I have been looking at. I think the Dodgers would give him away with cash, just to be rid of his salary. If Either bounces back, like I believe he will, he could bring back value in a July trade.

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    I think we're probably out on Price. Theo's comments at the ST meeting combined with this morning's BA article makes me think that the Cubs view Edwards as their ace, and spending a ton in money and prospects for a declining ace just isn't a smart play right now.

    I do think we're going to get Tanaka to complement Edwards, though. Theo and Ricketts seem to be on the same page, and the money is there. It's the only move out there that gives the business side the big free agent acquisition they're looking for and fits right into the rebuilt.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree that we are probably out on Price, but I think that our interest Price and how we view Edwards are unrelated. It just doesn't make sense to make a play for the guy right now. He's certainly not undervalued and we're not ready to compete. I just don't see this happening.

    I hope we get Tanaka. I've always felt confident that if we didn't, it wasn't because of the money. We may get outbid, but only because the bid exceeds what our FO feels he's worth... How they determine what a young promising player who has never thrown a pitch in the Majors is worth, I have no idea. If rumors are close, sounds like a $100-$150MM guy between the posting fee & contract.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    We need an ace and they know that. If they don't think he's coming internally AND they think Price is the best fit they're likely to get now or in the future, they may consider rolling the dice. That doesn't seem to be the case on multiple fronts but since they think he's coming internally, the entire if statement falls apart.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    There are so many variables involved and the planets have to align just right for Edwards to be counted on. I don't think their decision to pursue or not to pursue Price has anything to do with Edwards.

    I seriously doubt they are counting on Edwards for anything other than max effort to his off season program right now.

    All that aside, I can't see a legitimate argument for a team that is 2-3 years away from competing, and intends to be able to sustain that level of competition; to strip their farm system to acquire an Ace who now has question marks about being dominate and will be on the wrong side of 30 soon.... I'm sure some will try to make it, but I don't see this F.O. going that route.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    My understanding is that Theo, really, *really* talked him up during the season ticket holder event and BA ranked him #3 in the system -- ahead of Almora and Soler. There seems to be growing confidence that he's something special.

    I don't like the deal, but it wouldn't be "emptying" the farm system. My guess: Baez, Alcantara, Edwards/Johnson, and someone in Amaya territory. It hurts, yes, but the system is deep enough that there's still a lot there.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    You're talking about 4 of our top 7-8 prospects. Thats pretty much stripping our system and IMO, way too steep a price for Price.

    That's great that everyone is still "high" on Edwards. I just don't think Theo is thinking he is a sure thing, because he's not. Way too much can still go wrong. I wouldn't put it past him to use this wave of optimism on Edwards to trade him while his value is high, but Price just doesn't seem to fit our time frame and the price is STEEP. We can't afford to swing and miss on a deal like this.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    There is the possibility that the Cubs could win a David Price deal. Where is Matt LaPorta, the top prospect involved in the Sabathia to MIL deal now? Where is Drew Pomeranz and Co. from the Ubaldo to CLE deal? The 4th pick in the draft should adequately replace one of those top guys in the package anyway. It'll be a huge package but I don't think it's an automatic that the Cubs would lose out in the end. These next two years of DP should feature a lot of really good pitching.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    What makes you so down on Edwards? Are you basing this on his slight build? And if the Cubs are not counting on him, are you saying that Olt was the major piece of the Garza trade?

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    No, I'm not saying any of that, and I'm not down on him.

    Mike brought up the notion that we may not pursue Price because we have Edwards. What I am saying is that Theo most definitely does not have his Legacy or the future of our rotation tied to Edwards being an Ace. Our decision to pursue Price is based solely on how we project Price and the cost to obtain/retain him vs anything that Edwards may or may not do.

    F.O.'s don't count on a pitcher with half a season at A+ ball for anything. Way too many never make it that were supposed to. I like Edwards and hope he does become a true Ace. Just not buying into the notion that his success at A+ Daytona has anything to do with our interest in David Price.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Fair enough. I have to see more of Edwards and see how he develops over the next year before I'm counting on him as a stud. But I think it's possible.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think the talent evaluators are hedging when they say Edwards has a No. 3 ceiling. They're playing the percentages, because if they say he can be a No. 1 or 2 and he busts, they look bad. I know his build suggests he can't be a No. 1 or 2, but just like some of you think Lake can defy odds and being a solid regular, I think Edwards can be at least a No. 2. This year will tell a lot.

    I agree with you on Tanaka. I think the Cubs can't be completely in wait mode and need to take at least one big risk this offseason (though your reference to the ST meeting suggests otherwise here as well). What do you think they should bid and what kind of bid and contract do you think it will take to land him?

    I also agree on Tanaka

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    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Posting fee north or $100 million. Like $110, 142,326.31. (Get it?) Then something along the lines of $60 million/8 years on top of that. Given what Verlander and Hernandez cost, it would be a bargain if he's what Theo expects him to be. (Lots of "ifs" hidden in there that Theo's scouts would be in a better position to answer than I.)

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I like the contract estimate, though I wonder if they might want a shorter one so they can get a bigger second one if he pitches like an ace. Say, 4 years, 50 million?

    As for the post, I hope they are willing to go to 75 million, but you're probably right that it will take 100 mil to win it. I'm not sure I have that kind of faith in the guy based on the mixed results Japanese pitchers have had over here.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    4 years for 50 million, on top of a 100 million posting fee ends up paying 30 million per year for Tanaka. That isn't going to happen. Whoever wins the bid is going to want at least 6 years at a total of about 50 million.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    No way Tanaka posts north of $100 million dollars. What was Darvish? 60M? $100 million seems about $30M + too high and you've added $10M to that. I'd be shocked if it comes anywhere close to $110M.

    Tanaka profiles as a #2, Darvish was a consensus #1. Add his projected salary and $170M seems about $60-$70M too high IMO.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Everything I've read is that it will go north of $100 million. Contracts have exploded since the Darvish signing, and the Dodgers are in on him.

    We want him, we have to pay.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Fine. Give me a link. I've not seen that anywhere. I love ingesting material so I'd like to see who is saying that or writing that.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Can't say, sorry. You're free to believe it or not.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Well I don't, but that's irrelevant. Will I be shocked? Beyond shocked. Sites like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs all point to a $60/$60 post/contract.

    I think slightly more because all teams are sitting on huge bankrolls.

    I'd say the top five bids will be:

    1. Dodgers
    2. Yankees
    3. Rangers
    4. Tigers
    5. Cubs

    I think LA will get him somewhere in the $65-68M range. But I'm guessing completely.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    You realize the issue here, though, right? If that's the high bid, the Cubs can get him by simply bidding $70 million, and it seems they easily value him that much.

    But, if the Dodgers think the Cubs will do that, it's in their best interest to go to $80 million. And up and up and up we go -- until we hit their actual valuation.

    I tend to think he's more important to the Cubs than any of the other teams in on him, so they can -- and should -- go the highest.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Sorry, should have said "heard" not "read."

    Here's a Passan article that hints at it.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    You did say heard. But you also said everything you've heard. I'll check out the link. Thanks, Mike. Passan is a bit exuberant at times like the guy who runs MLBTR but he is certainly qualified to make a prediction, no doubt.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I respectfully disagree with that fact. The Dodgers, or any other team, aren't going to post with an due on a hypothetical idea of what other teams may post. So it's not like the Dodgers anticipate a bid of $70 by the Cubs and then go to $80. If they firmly believed the Cubs would bid the highest and they firmly believed that number was $70M, they would maybe go in the $71-72 range and if they lost, so be it.

    Obviously the Dodgers have a looser pocketbook than any other team, but at some point they have to exercise financial prudence. As do the Cubs, the Yankees, the Rangers, Etc.

    I think Passan is simply taking "the field" with everybody else claiming a total posting fee/salary package in the $125M range. As long as the package exceeds that figure, he's correct. If it doesn't, then all the other experts were right and there's no shame in that.

    $100M as a posting fee sets a dangerous precedent. Baseball does not want to fork over that kind of cash to NPB. In fact, they are trying to find ways to lower posting fees so that the players get more.

    I still say $65-68M gets negotiating rights. I think if you go $69.9M it's a win. $70 is a scary number too. We shall see. Baseball execs have made dumber moves in the past, but moving a posting fee $40-50M dollars higher seems unlikely to me.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    What logic is behind this assumption the Dodgers will be in on Tanaka? I can think of several logical reasons on why they wouldn't be, but maybe I missed some news? Is some member(s) of their starting rotation on the way out? Or they aren't going try and re-sign Kershaw?

    I hope it isn't assuming that the Dodgers are just spend-happy.

    That payroll isn't sustainable for very long as it is, they're already over the tipping point and will have to start shedding payroll in a few years. They're already shopping outfield payroll....

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    This is in response to Cubswin4harry...

    It seems like people in the industry seem to think they're going after him.

    ESPN did a survey of front office people/scouts and the Dodgers and Yankees seem to be the clear favorites to get him.

    They're shopping OF's because they have 4 guys for 3 spots, money doesn't seem to be the issue, playing time is.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    One thing to think about with Tanaka is when he will be available to bid on,and if we wait on that outcome maybe we pass up the opportunity for another player or two by waiting too long.The posting fee and contract money are going to be enormous and why would Theo put all the money on a doubtful addition?

  • John,

    Could you repost your definition of "command" vs. "control" again.

    I remember you posting it back a few months ago, but I can't seem to find that post.

    thanks again!

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Generally, control is ability to keep pitches in the strike zone, command is placement of pitches within the zone.

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    In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    As I understand it, control is the ability to throw strikes to the extent that you are not wild. Command is control within the strike zone.

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    In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Command is where the generals work.

    Control is the building where NASA talks to astronauts.

  • Since I live in GA, I naturally get a lot of news about the Braves. On Jonny Venters, he is coming off his 2nd TJ surgery, not his first. The success rate for comebacks after a 2nd TJ is nearly as good as the recovery from a first. Not saying I would totally rule him out but buyer beware.

    I really wouldn't want Tommy Hanson. The Braves basically gave up on him. One thing I have always noticed about him is that he gives the hitter a really good, really long look at the ball before he releases. This has always been one of his drawbacks, in my opinion. During his time with the Braves, and especially near the end, there were also rumors about his work habits and other things.

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    This is going to be an interesting off-season. Something to move the needle, like a shark trade, would seem nice but I feel a lot of people will act like just because we didn't make a huge trade or sign the biggest FA on the market that were tanking it in..... Happens every year.

    I'd honestly rather stand pat and give the young talent another year to grow with themselves than overpay/kill the farm for FAs and trades that amount to a 2-3 win increase.

    No Price, no Ellsbury, no Choo. Stay the course and continue to make solid value moves, play the kids and when we're close then go all in.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I pretty much agree with you. They're still about a year away. I don't think we'll see the big deadline sell off this year but other than that, I don't expect big changes. There may be some FA signings this winter but it'll be mid-level type guys.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I agree.... stay the course. But I think GAHillbilly needs to adjust his time frame from 1 year to 2. While the big 4 are special, you have to figure they all still need some seasoning in the minors and then will need time to make adjustments, etc... Not to mention the effect that super 2 status has on the timing.

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    Would also like to add that on the off chance Cubs get an offer they can't refuse on ANY player, take it. But it has to provide substantial surplus value, otherwise what's the point. Theo said it best. If you trade a core player you better receive two back or your doing it wrong.

  • The Mets are looking hard at SS and would like one with power. The NY Post offered up Syndegaard for Baez yesterday. MLB has Baez at #9 and Syndegaard at #12 (#4 RHP) in prospect rankings. To me, this sounds crazy, but it will be interesting to see if the Mets pick up steam as a trading partner for the Cubs this offseason, or even next season, when they have a chance to see how Harvey recovers.

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    In reply to Cleme:

    Jim Callis once said that prospects are like children; you love your own more than anyone else's. That's one reason prospect for prospect trades rarely happen.

    It would make sense for us, though, to trade Baez for a stud pitcher. Not sure if Syndergaard is the guy, but I would trade for Taijuan Walker straight-up, for example.

    We have organizational depth at IF, so trading a prospect or two there is a definite plus strategy. And in the end, if Bryant, Olt, Villanueva, Baez, and Alcantara all hit, SOMEONE has to get dealt anyway, regardless (Big IF of course)

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I think Baez has such a high ceiling that you have to hang onto him. If he takes another step forward in plate discipline, he could become a monster. Also, as much as it frustrates me, you rarely see two young players like that traded for each other.

    Another thing is that I believe Bryant will get moved to the outfield because of his size.

  • Judging by John's tweet. It looks like we should take a hard look at the National's farm system for Shark.

  • My main concern with trading shark for someone who isnt near ready. What is a realistic eta for giolito? Is he one that could fly thru the minors ala kris Bryant?

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    Giolitio is a high schooler recovering from TJ. He's a while away, but instantly becomes the best pitching prospect the Cubs have. (Although a few gurus may argue Edwards.) It's a risk. Presumably the deal would include a lefty position player who is closer to the majors with a lesser ceiling. Goodwin is another guy that could headline the package, and as a lefty outfielder relatively close to the majors, he fills a major need for the Cubs. John just said that the Nats may make an offer too good for the Cubs to refuse, and my first thought was Goodwin *and* Giolito for Shark.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Giolito a Velander level talent.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    But Tommy John -- and for whatever reason that has really been biting the Cubs. Baker and Whitenack were complete blowouts and Vizcaino is not showing a whole lot. And that's on top of the usual caveat: He's a 19-year-old pitcher. I'd love to have him -- but there's a lot of risk there. Thus why he's available for Shark.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    There were some scouts that still wanted Giolito but the FO didn't want their 1st pick to be someone coming off an injury. I don't blame them for that and I think Almora was a good pick.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I remembered you saying that and I was searching through the archives for it... lol

    How far away is he? (2-3 years?)

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I would say by 2016 but he would be worth the wait. He would make an impact right off the bat.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Kevin - how would you compare Giolito to Vizcaino, assuming both make a complete recovery?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Giolito is a lot better pitcher. Normally one TJS works so I wouldn't compare the two in recovery time. I think Giolito will be up by 2016 at the latest.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Not Kevin, but Baseball America's prospect review of Giolito couldn't be higher, stating his stuff was back last year (his first pitch was 100 mph) and his fastball and his curveball are projected 80 rated pitches. In the chat, someone asked about him:

    Liam (Dallas): Good lord. 2 80 future grades for Giolito? Are we looking at the #1 pitching prospect in baseball (assuming a healthy season) by the end of next season?
    Aaron Fitt: I am comfortable making that kind of prediction. I think this guy is really, really special.

    They projected that this year wouldn't be pushed to bring him back from TJ and he could be getting close to the majors by end of 2015.

    If we got him straight up for Jeff S., I would jump at that trade (based on our projection for success during the next two years and need for a #1 starter prosect). If Giolito was acquired and Vizcaino and Edwards were able to hold up as starters, we'd have a Big 3 on pitching side to match the Big 4 hitters.

  • In reply to springs:

    I saw him pitch in HS. He stuff is better then any amateur pitcher I have ever seen.

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    The Cubs wouldn't do that, probably, because they value offensive potential over pitching potential, and, in an allegedly non-PED era, power hitters are more premium prospects than power pitchers.

    If they made Castro available to the Mets I'm sure Syndegaard would be where negotiations start. They'd probably want D'Arnaud and a lower level player as well. Interesting scenario. I wonder who says no first?

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    This was a response to Cleme. I clicked the wrong box. I'm not a smart man, Jenny.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    I was just looking over that Mets roster a few days ago. Syndegaard would look good in a Cubs uniform. I was wondering if Shark might be the guy they would dangle to get talks started.....

    d'Arnaud would be another guy I liked but not sure he would be better than Castillo and will be 25 in Feb. The timing would be little off for acquiring him at this point. That isunless Castillo was in fact moved this winter....

  • I see Castro being available. There won't be any deals with Boston even if the cubs might be interested and Shark to the Nats makes sense. Would Seattle be a possibility for Castro? They might have some young pitchers available.

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    In reply to pricewriter:

    I'm not sure you go out and hire Rick Renteria, who was brought in in part to improve communications with the likes of Castro, and then turn around and trade him. The only way the Cubs do that in my opinion is if teams are willing to ignore 2013 and make the kind of offers they would have last offseason.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I kind of get that feeling as well.

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    John, you've talked a lot about guys they might take fliers on the last few days, who have generally underperformed because if injuries, etc., but they've been mostly minor leaguers or guys who haven't really established themselves on the major league level. What about trying to add another player or two in the mold of Nate Schierholtz, a vet who has played well but never given a full time gig. It could be a position player or a reliever who might profile well as a starter. I would expect them to still sign 1-2 of those guys with the intention to flip them if all goes well. I haven't had time to look over the list of free agents to see if there were any vets who stand out.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That is certainly an option. I'd have to see what kind of player in that mold is available through either free agency or trade. I did list some guys like Snider who really haven't had a chance to settle in in the bargain bin article.

  • BA released their top 10 prospects for the Cubs and it's interesting to see CJ Edwards ahead of Almora and Soler... And good to see Pierce Johnson and Alcantara right behind... We could have 6 or 7 top 100... And maybe even 4 or 5 top 50 prospects.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Yep. We'll post that later today.

  • The timeline to winning the division is a longer slog than I expected. We may be facing more than one more year of low payrolls and flippable free agents. It seems inevitable given the necessarily slow pace of developing prospects and the unnecessary financial restrictions from Ricketts (until new TV deals are in place).
    Given long wait and inevitable tanking still ahead, I think the Cubs will trade both Castro and Shark. They need top quality pitching prospects and I don't see how then can get them without dealing relevant MLB talent.
    The affordable, flippable free agents they're probably shopping for are about as exciting as a new pair of sensible shoes.

  • I would prefer the Cubs not go 'shopping' for Price - the cost is too hight IMO for a guy who'll be past his peak and cost-control when the Cubs are ready to contend.

    Resign Baker - if he can be gotten at a better deal than last year's price, or on a similar top-end incentive-laden deal. Give Arietta, Rusin, Villaneva, a shot at the 4/5 spots in the rotation. Maybe make a play for either Kazmir or Josh Johnson as a low-end FA hire. - especially if it looks like Shark isn't going to sign an extension. All of these guys (IMO) offer a better cost-benefit ratio, and better trade bait for prospects than woud a Price.

  • john, this is off subject but if mcleod leaves can Tim Wilken be his replacement. I know he is well respected around baseball. And one more thing, It seems like to some fans castro is like a bomb in the cubs org and they have to get it out no matter what.

  • I f the FO wanted to go big, they could look for a 3 team trade with seattle and st lou.
    We send Shark, Castro and Nate and a prospect to Seattle which moves Castro to SL.
    We get Walker,Ackley and SL RP. Seattle gets Craig or Adams(Shark,prospect)

    Let Barney go, move Villanuava and they should have around 50 to 60 million to spend.

    Sign Kazmer,HUghes,Grandy,Infante,Young . That is an team I am more excited about that keeps top prospects

  • ejs1, That sounds great. But would Seattle and StL go for it?

  • Castro, Samardzija, and Castillo are all available for a TOR pitcher or two and young lefty bat. A top 7or 8 prospects package for the above I don't think will happen.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I have seen speculation on Tulo and Cards sending Craig, Miller and a RP. Castro would bring much less. SL would like Castro's contract.
    It would be interesting to know what kind of return Shark and Casto could bring.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    That's not even going to be close to being enough.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    What do you think it would take from the Cards to get Tulo. It does not seem like a good match due to his contract.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    The word I hearing they don't want to trade him. So it will take Miller, Adams, Rosenthal and Martinez.

  • Somber note. Yesterday we learned there was nothing left we could do for our beloved Rottweiler, Eva. Very sad. She is our family and if you know Rottys, you know that while they get huge, they never really fully grow up. They are forever puppies, so she was our baby. We will miss her dearly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry to hear it John - having had to let a member of the family go like that is always hard. We've got a Border Collie mix we feel exactly the same way about.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks, I appreciate that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry John. Been there too. Most loyal beings on this earth.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, we've talked about our four-legged family members before. I am very sorry to hear about the loss to your family. I'm sure she had a wonderful life.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Thanks. She was spoiled in every way...and she spoiled us back, so it was fair :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Very sorry to hear so but glad she had a loving home. Condolences from me and my rescue Chihuahua, Angel. She is missing one eye and many teeth but still considers herself our homeland security.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Haha. Thanks. We also have a 14 year old Doblerman and she is our our homeland security. Favorite story about her was when I brought her to my parents house. They apparently have a neighbor who just walks in unannounced. So she walks in when Chloe (our Doby) is there. Chloe just calmy walks up to the neighbor. Doesn't make a sound, doesn't even growl. Backs her into a corner and then sat down and stared silently until I got there. That was about the coolest piece of guard dogging I have ever seen. Needless to say, that neighbor never walked in without knocking ever again.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Too cute!!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Very sorry to hear that, John. Most people just don't understand how integral a family member dogs can be. Lost my Cocker spaniel a few months ago that id been with since infancy. Needless to say the hit was catastrophic to the whole family.

    The good thing is I'm sure Eva had a great life with a great family.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thanks Marcel. They are very much family members for us. She did have a great life, we spoiled her to no end.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Man I am soo sorry about Eva John. Unfortunately I know how you feel, I feel it's the same as any other death of a close family member. My heart goes out to you John.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey, man.
    Really sorry to hear about Eva. A pet really is a member of the family.
    Hang in there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry to hear about this, John. It's always so hard to lose a pet. We are actually trying to nurse our cat back to health after getting run over by a car last week. May be a losing battle...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    As a previous owner of many dogs I became attached to and now the cat that my wife and I have and dearly love, my heart goes out to you. Losing a beloved pet/companion is really hard. How old is she?

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Thanks Greg. She was 10 1/2, which is pretty old for a Rottweiler. Like many Rotties she developed cancer and unfortunately, it was a very aggressive form.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Wow, John - how sad. We love our pets with all our hearts and dogs are a blessing from above, imo. But we outlive them and giving them up is really hard. My thoughts are with you and the Mrs.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks '69. Really appreciate that. We knew it was time, but it is never easy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry to hear that, John. While I'm sure she had a great life, that's never an easy thing to endure. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't spent a decade + with a 4-legged companion, but they really are family!

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Yes, thank you. I was just saying that to my wife... dog (and cat) people understand. They become part of your family. We also have a Doberman who is 14, so the 4 of us have been together for about a decade.

  • Can't see Castillo included unless they spend big bucks on a new catcher and don't even see them doing that. StL would like Castro from what I've read and Seattle is probably looking for veterans. They'll need more from StL for Castro.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    I know these kinds of trades are improbable and it is hard to match up players, but it shows the different directions the FO could be thinking about. I could never imagine Boston being able to pull off the trade with the Dodgers. I have a feeling we will go the non-tendered player route, which may be wise, but not as much fun to think about in the off season. I enjoy the discussion.

  • Sorry John, I think we all know what it means to lose a dog. I had to give one upp and that hurts too.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    Thank you PW, I appreicate that. It is hard no matter how much you prepare yourself for it.

  • Seems like a lot of closers available on the fa market. I could see them waiting around to see if they can pick up a bargain in late January.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    Agreed. Unless they really like someone specific early, if they want to shore up the pen they could just wait it out and pick up the biggest bargain.

  • John, sorry to hear about Eva. Lost my 14 yr old golden last year too.
    With the way Theo was talking I would assume that when we would trade for talent it would be a one for 2 type deal. Does that take into account positional values. Is a TOR starter worth more than a all-star level SS?

  • In reply to Lee Smith HOF:

    Thanks Lee.

    I think an all-star level SS has more value in general because he's an everyday player. You also have to factor in that the Cubs shortstops are not just talented but young and inexpensive. They have a ton of value and I'm not sure another team is going to be comfortable trying to match up.

  • I think trading shark then signing tanka or garza would work out well. We get some nice prospects and only spend cash on the free agents. We will be better in the short term and long term.

  • I'm still on the CarGo train. If we can pry him loose for Arietta, Vogelbach and Villanueva that'd be fantastic IMO. He'd add great protection to Rizzo and suddenly our 2014 line up could be

    Maybe Bryant and Baez make it up by the end of the season taking Nate and Darwin out of the equation and we have a pretty decent line up top to bottom.

  • In reply to good4you:

    Its sounds like they aren't interested in trading him bit ot sounds like Fowler will be available.

  • In reply to good4you:

    The Rockies owner said they don't have plans to trade him or Tulo. I'm sure there's exceptions but Arietta, Vogelbach and Villanueva isn't an exception.

    If the Cards get Tulo I see no way they completely strip the team and get rid of Cargo too.

    He's staying a Rockie.

  • John, do you see Theo gambling and trading either Castro or Jeff
    or Baez for there only chance to get top pitching prospects?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I do not.

  • Sorry to hear about Eva...we rescue English Bulldogs and that breed doesn't live long to begin with, but even knowing that, it still hurts every time.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Thanks Irish.

  • I would love if the Cubs got Lucas Giolito & A.J. Cole for Samardzija. The Cubs would instantly have the #1 Farm System and give us the TOR pitching to go with our young hitters in a year or two.

  • I wonder how long it will be before we hear anything on the Shark, Castro, or any trades involving yhe cubs.I would think Shark might be the first to go unless there's some kind of three way trade.

  • If Washington would put Anthony Rendon and Lucas Giolito into the deal for

    If Washington would put Anthony Rendon and Lucas Giolito together in a deal for Shark, I'd take a long hard look at it.

  • In reply to kevie:

    If Washington put Giolito and a rundown used car into the deal for Shark, I'd take a long hard look at it.

    Giolito is full of risk, but his upside is higher than anyone. Shark's value likely at its highest right now and Giolito could be the ace and a Cy Young caliber pitcher. Obviously this is based solely on stuff and not performance in the bigs, but his upside is much higher than most any pitching prospect in baseball. As Kevin G said above, it was the best amateur pitching prospect he had ever seen.

    Personally I don't think Washington will give us Giolito for Shark straight-up -- while Giolito is solely a prospect at this point, this seems like not enough value. Would we trade Baez straight up for, say, JJ Hardy? I certainly wouldn't.

  • Don't hold your breath....

    Here's a question for the amateur GMs out there: what is the difference in value between 1yr of Max S and 2yrs of Shark?

    I'm sure that's a question a lot of real GMs will be pondering in coming weeks.

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    Baseball America sure is high on Edwards.
    I'm a fan of this kid, I'm really rooting for him-
    But in terms of being an "ace", he's going to have to flat out dominate in AA. I really like CJ. I think he can be a really decent #2-3. But an ace? I know the fastball has a ton of movement, but really now? It would sure be nice.
    I'd love to take a gamble and select a pitcher in the 2014 draft. I think that's where we can get an ace. It looks like there could be a couple gems at #4. We can afford to take a high-pick gamble on an arm, at this point.

    All for trading Samardzija. A package headlined by Gioloto and we've gone a long way to balancing out the farm system, and building a VERY competitive team for years to come.
    Castro controls his own fate, now. I'd love to see Alcantara try and play the outfield. I'm also for going all out and making Tanaka happen. We have a major market payroll. I know what we're up against. But the big picture benefit would be huge, moving forward. A huge fast-forward to the rebuild!

    For 2014, I just want a couple veterans to set a decent example, and maybe be flipped at the deadline. (Ellis & Josh Johnson.)
    The rest of the picture will start to take focus before 2015. Next year should be fun to watch once Bryant and Baez arrive.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Eric Foster:

    He is very light and repeated a level. But he was lights out. Expect some regression at AA. But if he is anything close to last year, and a 32% K-Rate with no home runs allowed really sets the bar high, he would probably be a top ten overall prospect next year. Edwards will be fun to watch.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    He allowed 1 home run. He can still improve!!!

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    The strikeouts and the ability to keep the ball in the park are fantastic. I like Pierce, too...But, like you said- CJ could be very fun to watch.

  • I don't expect FO to make any significant moves this winter. They'll just get a few bargain basement "value" guys to keep spots warm for another year, or to flip in July. Don't see them acquiring any true talent for the future, although we'll analyze the heck out of a few guys who might just be good enough stick as 4th or 5th OFs or utility guys when the team is good. Don't see them trading Castro and don't see a team parting with adequate prospects for Shark. Don't see them landing Tanaka, although they'll submit a respectable bid that's just not quite enough.

    Sigh. So 2014 will be another year where focus will be on progress of prospects in MiLB, how (and if) Rizzo and Castro get it together, the trade deadline, and hope for Bryant and Baez to get up here not merely in September so as to at least spark some interest the same way Lake's early promotion did this year.

    Or maybe, just maybe, our core guys come out the blocks kicking ass, our starting pitching remains solid, the bullpen finds its footing early, Olt seizes control at 3rd, Barney hits .270 during first two months, Bryant and Baez put up outrageous numbers in spring training and AA to earn early call ups and we spend all of June on this site talking about whether its 1984 and Soler is Joe Carter.

    And, honest to God, it's snowing outside.

  • New posting agreement finalized. Top bidder still gets exclusive negotiating, not a pick between 1-3. Top bidding team pays average of the two highest. Doesn't seem like anyone wins in this scenario except the owner who wins the bidding. Japanese team loses ($), the player loses (choosing from 3 teams), the mid-market team loses (chance to place 2 or 3 and still be in the running), and only the richest owner wins because he can just post a silly high bid and only be on the hook for 90% of it depending on what the second highest bid was. Ridiculous.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Hoyer again quoted as saying the Cubs will be involved.

    Just getting the feeling the Cubs have been sandbagging here, and are going to throw a $90M bid out there.

    Young, controllable TOR starter whose salary will be equivalent to EJax.

    Fingers crossed.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I'm not sure at all what this says about us and how aggressive we will be, but really the new system makes it easier on whoever throws out a crazy hid bid. Lets say the top two bids (completely guessing) were NYY at 75MM and CHC at 95MM. We would then only be on the hook for 85MM of it. It's great for the team who wins, because it allows you to throw out insane money, and let the rules bring it down for you. Everyone else loses. The owners really F'd over Japan and the midmarket IMO.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    This isn't as bad for the league as you might think. Because it is an average of two bids it can lead one team to bid stupid, and the average of the top two is higher than what the highest bid was in the old format. It could go either way.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    On the other hand, if there are TWO teams that that throw out crazy bids, one of them is really screwed.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I don't think a 90 million dollar bid will win it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Th Japanese team does not get the money, the league does. That rule was designed to curb what NPB gets. So If the Cubs bid $70M and the next highest bidder is at $60, then the Cubs send NPB $65M.

    This actually favors teams with deeper pockets because they will never really pay the high bid. They will ultimately pay something less.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Correct about the team not getting the money, apologies. But the idea is still the same, Japan is getting sent less money relative to the previous deal, because the highest bid will be reduced. Like I said, the richest owner willing to dole out the craziest bid wins twice, because he ultimately won't be on the hook for his whole bid. The midmarket teams who could have had a chance had the top three bids gotten consideration as proposed earlier are still stuck just as badly as in the previous agreement. The player being posted for also gains nothing by the deal, as opposed to a choice between three locations. Don't know how this got through, I think it's garbage.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Well, no way NPB was going to approve the top three bids, that is how they get hurt the worst potentially. So this is an equitable substitute. I don't think it allows MLB teams to throw caution to the wind. No one wants to be on the hook for an overpay, and the Dodgers or Yankees aren't going to throw out an insane number hoping to only be on the hook for half the difference of the second highest bid. Certainly NPB hopes that happens, BUT -- this actually helps prevent one team from posting a very large bid just to block other teams from getting a player. A Japanese report also states that a team that wins a posting bid would be fined if they can't reach an agreement with the player.

    For Darvish, it might not have mattered, I think the top two bids were only $200,000 apart if I remember and I think the third best bid was about $7 million less. Which proves two points: One, most teams have a general market value for Tanaka as far as a posting fee and won't go crazy (in the case of Darvish, it would have cost NPB only $100,000, right?) and two, it weeds out the bidders that aren't serious. That's a win-win for both parties, keeps the relationship solid and helps throttle an outrageous post.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    game theory suggests otherwise. posting fees are higher, because the bidder thinks he gets to spend less.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    This is true. Neither is a guarantee but it really could go either way.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    There is no doubt this favors the teams with deeper pockets. But it should. That is the whole point. Otherwise I think NPB requires players to play nine or ten seasons before they can become international free agents.

    I still think the winning bid will send $65-$68M to NPB. If that means the Dodgers post $75M and the Cubs post $64M that's the outcome we live with. But based on Darvish and Ryu, I think the top two bidders will be extremely close anyway.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Who's reporting this?

  • In reply to djriz:

    MLBTR via Davidoff from NY Post

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:


  • fb_avatar

    I used to be a Barney supporter but realistically how long do do you think before a decision is made to go in another direction?

  • In reply to William Ray:

    I think they will take a long, long hard look at non-tendering him this offseason, but seeing as we won't be contending anyways, he won't cost any more than a short term replacement on the FA market who Might outproduce him by one WAR. Therefore, I think for the sake of consistency in the clubhouse and the mentoring and help he provides in the field for Starlin and whomever else, along with his stellar D, and a near guarantee of at least a little more production going into his prime ages (can't possibly be worse than last season right?), he will be our starting 2B last year. But I do believe that this is it, because we have his replacement on the way in either Baez, Alcantara, or Castro sliding over, which will probably relegate him to infield utility by season's end which I think is a great role for him. His non-tendering and resigning to a more team friendly deal should follow quickly next offseason if he wishes to stay in Chicago. Who knows maybe that step will happen this year.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    should be "he will be our starting 2B *next* year"

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I think Barney has trade value still. So I don't see a non-tender here. But I have no clue. I am not a Barney fan but Detroit certainly has been loving him for two years. That would be one, weak-hitting infield with Iglesias and Barney, though I bet they resign Infante which would make it a moot point.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think you're right on the Detroit outcome. I don't think Barney will be non-tendered this season, but next season if his salary is due to increase again through arbitration, the front office will want him to sign for less and try to avoid arbitration if he wants to stay, because another pay increase to him will eliminate what value he has left. If he has another season as bad as the last, he still will be performing around his positional value using Fangraph's 6MM/WAR for 2B, because he will be making just over 2MM and was a .4 WAR player last year. However, if AA or Baez supplant him late this year and he is relegated to utility duty, he will still receive a raise or stay constant at his current pay rate because arbitration salary does not get cut, so then you would have a near zero WAR player making 2+MM in 2015. I don't think the FO will let that happen.

  • In reply to William Ray:

    I think the front office values Barney much higher than many people posting do. I understand that watching Barney makes you wish there was a designated fielder position, because he needs a tennis racket. However, his defense is stellar. He also goes out there and focuses on every play defensively. That is something that Castro sees. His defense is obviously fantastic. Castro watches Barney, and I have zero doubts that Castro has improved defensively in some way because of Barney. Additionally, Castro can feel more comfortable in the field because of Barney's presence. No stat measures his improvement of Castro.

    Also, Barney improves pitchers comfort level. There is no stat that measures a pitchers level of confidence and relaxation on the mound.

    Therefore, to replace Barney, you need a guy whose increase in offense overcomes his decrease in defense. Then the increase in offense has to be so large that it overcomes the reduction of comfort level in Castro and the pitchers.

    Even further, that increase must be significant, because there is no point in bringing in a guy who is going to improve us by 0.25 of a win.

    Therefore, unless the front office decides to sign someone like Cano, and they will not, the Barney era will last until Alcantara or Baez are ready to assume full time 2B.

    I don't see why people are so quick to get rid of Barney, because I don't see a better option available. Not to mention that he seems to be an outstanding clubhouse guy, which has to factor in for something.

  • In reply to noscbs:

    Again people are underestimating Barney's contribution and basing their assumptions on his near Mendoza batting average...

    Barnet ranked 20th in RBIs for 2nd Basemen last year and 20th also in Runs scored... This for a team not getting guys on base regularly ahead of him.

    Add in that he saved an extra 6-10 runs with his stellar glove above that of his replacement and you have an average second baseman for circa $2m a year...

    Barney's worth to the team was never more obvious than during the period in April this year when the team's defense looked akin to the Keystone Cops. As soon as he returned runs tightened up and also Castro's glove seemed to improve.

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    In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    No, they're not underestimating anything.

    Yeah, he's excellent defensively, that's not a recent break in news.

    But there ISN'T a designated fielder spot. He has to swing the bat every game, and he is freakin' AWFUL. Your RBI argument doesn't really pan out when you consider he had an even lower BA with runners on and then even lower with RISP.
    If you consider his poor walk rate and his nonexistent power, things look even MORE bleak for him.
    Really, low avg AND no power is completely unforgivable.

    There's dozens of minor league prospects that are defensive wizards but can't crack a major league roster because they can't hit.

    His glove does not justify his continued existence. He doesn't save enough runs to compensate for the fact that he can't hit the ball.
    If the stats were any worse, you couldn't justify playing Andrelton Simmons for that production.

    I hope they keep him and he gets his average high enough to trade him.
    Baez should take over 2B no matter what next year sometime next year. Maybe if he's playing really well in AAA, we can make it nice and neat by packaging Barney in a trade and moving Baez into what's hopefully his home for the next 12-15 years.

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    Bullpen Banter, a site I love, has their Top Ten Prospects posted, starting with the Cubs, as of today.

    1. Javier Baez
    2. Albert Almora
    3. Jorge Soler
    4. Kris Bryant
    5. C.J. Edwards
    6. Mike Olt
    7. Arismendy Alcantera
    8. Pierce Johnson
    9. Christian Villanueva
    10. Dan Vogelbach

    I'd probably rank Bryant 2nd and Almora 4th. I like the rest of the picks though.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Seems like a pretty good list to me. I would also put Bryant #2 but slide Almora to #3 and Soler to #4. I want Vizcaino in the 9th spot instead of Villanueva too.

    This list is better than the Baseball America list that just came out.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Can't really argue with that list. I'd have Almora at 1 simply because he has the best combination of ceiling and floor of all our prospects. Having a high floor to go with the ceiling can be substantial. Ask Jurickson Profar. He never had Baez-typr superstar potential but he's been the best prospect in baseball because he was the most likely to have a 10yr career everyday with the chance of being an impact guy.

    I see Almora in that kind of light. May not have the ceiling of Baez or Soler but it's high enough that with his floor he could end up the player with the highest value.

    All pure opinion.

  • Interesting to note that the Twins, who announced that they will be moving Joe Mauer to 1B, are said to be looking for young catching.

    If the Cubs are indeed potentially shopping Castillo (hopefully not, though), the Twins certainly have some interesting young pieces that could interest the Cubs. Pitchers like Kyle Gibson and Luke Bard (brother of Daniel), or hitters like Eddie Rosario and Daniel Santana.

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    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Anyone else think Mauer and his contract just became an albatross in the blink of an eye? That's a lot of money for a first baseman that doesn't have 30hr power.

    Anyway. I don't see any Castillo trade happening unless we restock with another young catching prospect and someone to hold the fort until that guy is ready. Otherwise we're left with a gaping hole at C again.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think it's a smart move by the twins. It'll significantly increase the time he can be on the field, and maybe he'll even hit for power more consistently since he doesn't have to strain his legs so much during the game.

    I was just looking at his career stats and his average season is 117 games. He's never once had a season where he's played 150 or more.

    Getting a guy with a CAREER .323 BA into 20-30 more games per season can really only be a good thing.

    As for a trade, I'm not too high on their hitters (I'm not counting Sano and Buxton for very obvious reasons), but I like their pitching a lot. Kohl Stewart, Berrios, Trevor May etc.
    May could be a tough sell cause he's about ready for MLB.

    But I just don't see us being able to pry good arms away with Castillo.

    They do still need picthing so who knows, Maybe Minnesota would be a good place to deal Shark. Kohl Stewart and Jose Berrios would be a nice return for him with a guy like Eades or Gonsalves.

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    All thirteen free agents who got qualifying offers rejected them. I think this helps the Cubs because it limits the market for those players to all clubs with protected picks or those not averse to losing a #1 pick. I think those 13 players try to sign quickly to avoid being this year's Kyle Lohse.

    It also probably speeds up the process of lesser free agents who want to lock in quickly to best leverage available cash and available job openings. That type of scenario favors the Cubs I would think if they've targeted an OF or a few pitchers they'd like.

    As far as premium guys, unless Ellsbury holds out too long I don't think the a Cubs can afford him. Will be interesting to see how Boras plays his clients. I am very interested to see if anybody gives Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew or Mike Napoli more than 14.1M.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Arte Moreno should be a no show for the 13 FA's, given last seasons spending spree.
    I expect @ least two FA signings (for a veteran presence in the clubhouse).Cubs appear to me to be blowing smoke on going hard after Tanaka. If true it's sad because signing him makes all the sense in the world.

  • Wouldn't make sense to sign a big FA this year, whether it's Tanaka, or Ellsbury. Wouldn't make sense to trade for Price. This is the year to see which of our young guys pan out. This is the year to take the offer we can't refuse for our overrated power pitcher. Next year at this time is the time to come out swinging.

    Tanaka is not a sure thing at #1 TOR. Let's husband our resources.

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    In reply to Oneear:

    Even if Tanaka isn't a #1, he's very young and has a good chance of being around for a long time, and he won't cause us to sacrifice a valuable draft pick.

    Other FAs don't make sense but Tanaka really does.

  • Isn't it at the point where the cubs have to show that they're not also-rans when it comes to bidding? If they fail with Tanaka the cubs fans may begin to lose their patience with the rebuild. Theo and Company have done a great job with the minors but the club at the major league level hasn't had the people to compete. Shouldn't there be more progress in 2014 and a major influx of talent in 2015?

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    I'm hoping that's the case, though in fairness there is a limited amount and they did win on Soler. They would have won on Ryu if the baseball world was sane and didn't include LADs buckets of money.

  • "Masahiro Tanaka isn't a free agent yet."

    And won't be a free agent. He will be a posted player who can only negotiate with one team.

  • In reply to ddevonb:

    That's correct, I suppose, but it's not much more than semantics. There will be multiple teams vying for the exclusive negotiation rights. In that sense, he is on the open market until a team wins that bid. I can say Tanaka isn't yet available, but I'm not sure it changes anything all that much.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    He is also not a leprechaun. Gammons debunked that rumor over the weekend.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I didn't see that one.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry. My tongue was firmly glued to my cheek :)

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I know :)

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