Looking ahead at the potential 2015 free agent class: Starting Pitchers and LH hitters

If there are a couple of things the Cubs lack in their system, it's a sure thing starting pitching prospect and LH hitters.  Mauricio covered a possible 2014 lineup which shows how far the Cubs still have to go. I put up a future lineup but that was more of an illustration of how athleticism gives the Cubs plenty of options than it was a literal prediction of what team the Cubs will field 2-3 years from now.

But one thing that was missing from either lineup other than Anthony Rizzo  was a sure thing long term player who could hit from the left side, though Ryan Sweeney and switch-hitting Arismendy Alcantara are also possibilities.

A trade is always an option and the Cubs may run into a situation where they have some depth at key positions, particularly around the infield.  But if the Cubs aren't ready to give up prospects, there is always the 2015 free agent class.  Of course, we don't know how many of these names will make it that far, but looking at the free agent contracts this year, it wouldn't surprise me if more than a few free agents want to test the waters next offseason.

Aside from a potentially better class, the Cubs should be in better position to spend next year.  The timing is so much better.  We've gone over why the Cubs shouldn't give up a 2nd round pick for a pitcher or player who will be at their peak while the Cubs continue their rebuild.  We've also discussed how players signed to multi-year big money deals don't hold as much trade/flip value because of how much money teams need to take on and thus, how much value they will lose on the back end of those deals.

If the Cubs can take a step forward next year and make real progress, then they may well want to add players whose best contributions may come in the next 2-3 years.

Here is a list of starting pitchers and left-hand hitters that could fill in nicely...

Starting pitchers

  • Brett Anderson
  • Homer Bailey
  • Johnny Cueto
  • Josh Johnson
  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Jon Lester
  • Justin Masterson
  • Max Scherzer
  • James Shields

Whether or not the Cubs get Masahiro Tanaka, there are plenty of options potentially available after the offseason.  It's likely some of these players never make it to free agency, most notably Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, whose respective teams will likely pull out all the stops to sign them.  Jon Lester may be a long shot as well since Boston certainly has both the resources and the motivation to hang on to him.

Even without them, there are interesting options, particularly from the left side.  Brett Anderson will still be in his prime and the youngest pitcher on this list, but he will be looking to put up a healthy season heading into his free agent year.

The Reds have two major SP free agents and so far have shown some difficult in their ability to re-sign their players.  They managed to hang on to Joey Votto but have had to let Shin-Soo Choo go and are currently trying to trade Brandon Phillips, perhaps to free up money to retain Homer Bailey and/or Johnny Cueto.

Bailey's age makes him interesting as he will be 28 years old when he hits free agency.  Once more of a thrower than a pitcher, Bailey has learned the art of pitching in recent years while retaining the good stuff that made him such a good prospect to begin with.  He's a potential fit on a team looking long term.  Cueto will also be just 28, though injuries last season make him a bigger question mark at this point.

The Cubs have shown interest in Justin Masterson in the past and like Lester, Masterson was once a 2nd round pick of the Boston Red Sox (who says the Cubs front office should dump 2nd round picks?).  Both pitchers will be toward the back end of their prime (Lester will be 31 and Masterson will be 30 in the 2015 season), but the Cubs may be close enough to take advantage of those first 2-3 years of the deal by then.

Shields is a bit older (he'll be 33 for 2015 season) and I don't see him as a primary target for the Cubs next season, but he could be on the radar if the Cubs feel they're a year or two away.

LH hitters

  • Chase Headley
  • Nick Markakis
  • Colby Rasmus
  • Brett Gardner

It isn't a large list but all are potential fits because they have the athleticism and the solid to good plate discipline the Cubs want in their future lineups.

The name that stands out to me here is Colby Rasmus but he could be a bit overvalued because of an unsustainably high .356 BABIP last year.  For whatever reason, Rasmus tends to experience wild fluctuations in his BABIP numbers which have resulted in a very uneven career so far.  A league average type .300 BABIP to go with his career averages of a 9% walk rate and an ISO just below the .200 mark, would result in about a .250/.320/.440 type season.  Couple that with well above average defense in CF and he should have the value of an above average regular.

Chase Headley turns 30 in May and could fit in at 3B with Bryant moving to the OF and Baez staying somewhere in the middle infield.  He's an athletic player as well and could move to the OF, where he played early in his career.  That athleticism will probably allow him to remain productive later into his career, not to mention it's a fit with the Cubs philosophy.

Brett Gardner could be the poor man's Jacoby Ellsbury.  He'll be 31 heading into free agency so he'll be a bit older but speed players tend to retain value.  He could provide speed and OBP at the top of the order and good defense in LF.

Nick Markakis production has declined precipitously since signing a 6 year/$66M contract following his breakout 2009 season.  Much of that decline, oddly enough is with his defense.  Markakis has remained an above average offense player during the contract but his defense has been substantially below average.  That poor performance in the field has made him a fringe average starter over the past 5 years.  Markakis is a more athletic player than his defensive performance would lead you to believe, so if the Cubs could fix his defense perhaps they can get a bargain in what will then be a 31 year old Markakis.

This year may not have been the year for the Cubs to spend big on free agency for the reasons stated at the beginning of this piece, but additional revenue,  progress in 2014 from their core players, and top prospects nearing the big league leagues may give the Cubs more incentive to spend next year on a starting pitcher and/or LH hitter in what should be a stronger FA class.

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  • Cueto is the one name I consider possible on that list that Id make a run for. Has dominating stuff and is still relatively young. Shields would be a possability, but hes on the wrong side of 30, and Bailey just cant seem to get over the hump, his stuff is better than his results.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Reds have a $10MM option for Cueto. He aint going nowhere, til 2016 at the soonest...unfortunately.

  • Doesn't Brett Anderson have a team option that is pretty reasonable? Seems the only way he hits the market is if he is still bit by the injury bug.

  • In reply to dabynsky:

    It's a $12M club option so not to far south of the QO. If he's healthy and productive he probably won't make it to free agency. If he's healthy but not particularly productive perhaps the Rockies choose to buy him out for 1.5M. In that case he could be worth a flyer because I think the talent is there.

  • Interesting lists John. If you had to guess, would you say any of these players do not get QOs?

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    That is a real tough call. I would think most of them do but Markakis probably won't and Rasmus may not if he has another poor season. Anderson and Cueto also may not if there are still concerns.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not a huge Markakis fan. His defense has slipped some in the last several years - and although he is still a reliable OBP guy, and will hit you some doubles, he's probably not as good a fit as otherwise might seem with Almora, Soler, Bryant, and others waiting in the wings that will be coming up in the next few years.

    He would be blocking somebody, and wouldn't be much of an upgrade over the current Scherholtz/Ruggiano platoon IMO.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That was my question too, but more specifically regarding the pitchers. I know some people say that you have to "make your move" at some point, but I'm of the opinion that with the new CBA the Cubs (or any team) can build a much stronger organization by following 3 simple rules:

    #1 - Never sign players that are 30+ for more than 5 years or players 35+ for more than 2 years.
    #2 - Never make trades of top 10 organizational prospects for temporary players. (less than 2 years)
    #3 - Never sign Qualified Offer Free Agents which cost the team a 1st or 2nd round draft pick unless it is a 4+ WAR player (or the FO projects them to be one soon)

    The CBA by design rewards teams that build around young cost controlled players, re-sign their top in their prime free agents and also their low cost free agents, but let the players in the middle go for QO draft picks, or through trade to continually restock the system, which the MLB team can then use to replace aging players, or make adjustments to the team through trade, which begins the cycle all over again.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Everything depends on circumstance. I don't believe the Cubs will ever go crazy in free agency. I think they'll look for players who fit the long term -- guys like Masahiro Tanaka, Homer Bailey or Colby Rasmus, for example, or guys they can get as a stopgap/flyer on a short term deal. I don't think much of that will change even with success. There could be some exceptions but for the most part I don't think the plan changes drastically. The Red Sox model is still a good one if people wonder what the Cubs will be like in free agency. I think they'll be involved, but I think they'll pick their spots depending on circumstance.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think #3 could possibly be changed but only if you've already sacrificed a pick.

    That is, is next year they give up a second rounder on a QOFA, at that point it becomes less of a risk to give up a third and fourth rounder.

    I REALLY dislike giving up draft picks, but if you're going to do it, I think it makes much more sense to wait for a year that potentially benefits you greatly and go crazy, rather than giving up a high pick in multiple years.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Wouldn't at all be surprised to see them make a big splash when they finally jump. Sort of like they did with the IFA's this year.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I completely agree. That is actually why I worded it to say "which cost the team a 1st or 2nd round draft pick"... that way (like you said) if you already forfeit your 2nd round pick for a 4+ WAR player, their might be value in signing another QO FA since you are "only" giving up your 3rd rounder.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Fair enough. Glad we agree!

    It's been said by others already but when it comes to this FA class, I'm totally okay with them going a little crazy and overspending.

    This is, oddly, a class where you can spend a lot and still not be "building through free agency." This is a class that has potential to just fill major holes we know we have.

    The rotation is an OBVIOUS weak point. I like a lot of our young pitchers but there's several guys we have that "could" start but IMO would be far better utilized and less risky in the 'pen.

    That said, I still think it's best to trade Shark, but still for the "right" deal.

  • There's no way that Gardner hits FA. Yankees will be desperate to keep him with Soriano, Wells, and Ichiro leaving after this year. Markakis has an option (which he can void, but would be giving up 17.5 million). Rasmus could be interesting, but if he has a big year, he will get way more than he should in FA, considering the lack of options. He's really only had 2 good years in the last 4. I like Headley, but being a legit 3rd baseman will drive his price up as well.

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    I completely agree with everything you just wrote. This winter wasn't the right time to spend money on free agents that would require the team to give up draft picks. This team isn't close enough to justify it, and this free agent class just wasn't anything to write home about.

  • John, if the NL adopts the DH and Vogelbach turns out to be an offensive monster, does that change the equation any?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Absolutely. Right now that looks like a long shot, but Vogelbach would be a perfect fit as a DH.

  • By that year they can afford to lose a draft pick and overpay a FA.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Definitely can see them willing to overpay a little (that's just the nature of free agency, I guess). I think they'd still be hesitant about losing a pick but I think they would do it for the right player.

  • Very interesting list John, thank you. I agree , the one guy I would go after is Cueto . Seeing that the Reds don't have that much money to burn, it's highly likely Cueto goes to free agency

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thanks and you are probably right. I can't see them keeping both Bailey and Cueto and my guess is they'd look to lock up Bailey first.

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    Wait 'til next year. Or maybe the year after that.

  • In reply to Ray:

    It's called a rebuild, Ray...

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    In reply to Quedub:

    You are right. That is what the FO is calling what they are doing.

  • Want Homer Bailey.

  • How about moving Rizzo to right field and Vogelback at 1st? This is certainly doable.

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    Rizzo doesn't have the arm for RF... his range is questionable at best for anywhere other than 1B.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    He could probably be a serviceable LF, but that would still weaken your defense at two positions, as Rizzo would likely be a lesser defender than the player he unseats in LF, and we know Vogelburp isn't as good at 1B as Rizzo.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Well since we've never seen him play, we're just speculating.... Plus I don't think this FO would ever make a move that weakens the Defense at 2 spots... but everything I've read from Scouts, including comments from John and Kevin say that he isn't capable of playing OF. Then you have to wonder if he was pushed out there, would that effect his Offense at all?

    But the OP stated that moving Rizzo to RF and VogelBOMB to 1B was "certainly doable" and I do NOT think that is even within the realm of serious consideration, much less actually "doable"...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with you, Hoosier. And I am not on board with weakening two defensive positions at once either.

  • I actually think JAmes Shields could be an ideal candidate. He would come a little cheaper and might be willing to sign for 3 years. The Cubs will be a much more attractive destination with some of the young talent now up and contributing as well as some young arms on the way and that will need a veteran to show the way.

    I would love to see a rotation of Tanaka, Shark, Shields, Wood and then the last spot between Arrietta/Edwards/Johnson/Hendricks etc. Would be a very competitive rotation to say the least.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Shields will get at least five years. I like the idea of signing him though.

    I think Sherzer and Kershaw will both reach free agency. I'd like to see the Cubs in on both.

    I still don't see Tanaka as a fit. If the Mariners go after him, I think they'll get him. If not, then Yankees.

  • Off topic but important:


  • In reply to Eddie:

    Good news indeed from Mr. Parks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Baez at #7.... Bryant & Almora in top 15.....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I believe he said Baez was in the top 5.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    sweet! I saw him say top 7, maybe he's being more specific for some.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think he clarified it later because he said there were 5 shortstops in the top 7 and that Baez was one of them. Then someone questioned him having Baez in the top 7 and Parks responded, "He's in the top 5". High risk but ridiculous ceiling for a SS.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Okay, I missed that last part. I saw him justify the Baez ranking with "Production is starting to match hype; high risk but incredibly high ceiling."

  • Long time reader but first time writing to the site. Impressed by your readers and writers.

    My son and I were discussing that 2014 offseason would be huge one for Cubs to dip into the market. My personal favorite is Homer Bailey. His WHIP keeps coming down and he will be young. Would love to see Masterson as well. Both project as #2 or #3 rotation types. Add in one of these guys with Tanaka while keeping Shark and you have one heck of a rotation.

    Sign a bat like Rasmus or Headley for the outfield and you could have a pretty good team for 2015 and beyond with all the young guys coming up.

    We are not that far off. Patience is a virtue and will be rewarded soon.

  • In reply to Cubs69:

    Thank you for the kind words. I think the Cubs are setting themselves up nicely for next offseason. We will see a real influx of talent in the next two years

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    Headley could be a good pickup, especially if the Padres trade him mid-season.

  • Local outage here today so I have limited access for a gew bours. Will try and check in as much as I can.

  • For those people that have been making fun of the Cubs FO for taking a chance on guys, Carlos Pimentel (24, RHP) whom the Cubs signed this winter, was just named the Dominican Winter League "Pitcher of the Year" on Monday.

    Pimentel had a 1.67 ERA in 37 2/3 innings during the regular season with Escogido and led the league in wins. The league’s round-robin playoffs begins today.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Congrats to him. It's always nice to see a Cubs player win an award but to be honest, I'm not sure it means a whole lot. Still, it's good to see he's pitching well. I think he needs to refine that control even more to succeed in the MLB.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, small sample size in winter league ball. Still it's always better to succeed versus the alternative. Really, my main point was just that people shouldn't knock the Cubs FO for taking "fliers" on lesser known guys or guys that haven't had success thus far for whatever reason. Things can change with young baseball players quickly and if it doesn't cost much, why not give guys a shot...even if only 1 of 5 becomes a keeper it's worth it to try.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Agreed there. I think even if you get a middle reliever, you get him cheap. Anytime you can get a guy who can fill a role cheaply for several years, that's more money you can spend on more important positions.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm sure you've mentioned it before but what type of pitcher is Pimental John? Thanks for the update Dawg!

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    John will no doubt be able to tell you what kind of pitches and stuff Pimentel has (I'm interested to find out too) but here is a little snippet from Brett at BN from when the Cubs signed him in November.

    "Pimentel has intermittently been a top 30 prospect in the Rangers’ system, but, having signed as a teenager, didn’t quite break through by the time he qualified for minor league free agency (he’s now 23, and turns 24 in December). He’s a tall, thinner guy (6’3″, 180 lbs), and tends to keep it in the low-90s."

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Pimentel sits low 90s, can touch 94 out of the pen. Throws a decent slider and an average change. No real out pitch. Stuff and command profiles best as a middle reliever, in my opinion, but makes sense to keep him as SP depth in Iowa for now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John! That's why you're the best.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I just responded to Ghost Dawg on the same question. Basicall average stuff across the board (low 90s FB, slider, change) with no real out pitch and so-so command. That is pretty much the profile of a middle reliever, especially since he gains a tick or two out of the pen. That's where I see him long term if he makes it. To top that prediction he's going to need to hone his command and improve at least one of his secondaries. He's still young, so that's possible, but even then I see his ceiling as a bottom of the rotation guy.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Thank you for the info. Not ever sure how anyone could disagree with taking a chance on players when there is no downside but then want to sign 30+ year olds with good upside but tremendously large downside.

    I gladly will do that for Kershaw and other true star difference makers who could put you in the playoffs, not so much for Ubaldo and a chance he could get us to a 74 win season.

  • In reply to springs:

    No problem, I'm here to serve ;-) & I definitely agree with your other points... although I have serious doubts that the Dodgers ever let Kershaw see free agency. If you are going to break the bank, Clayton Kershaw is a good place to spend your money.

  • Some amusing post excerpts from a Yankees fan on a popular national sports blog I thought I'd share:

    The Cubs have ABSOLUTELY no interest in signing Tanaka. The Cubs are getting an extraordinary amount of mileage from their brain dead, delusional fanbase out of claiming that they'll be a contender in 2015 due to the alleged strength of their farm system. As if the Cubs are the only team in the league with meritorious players in the minor leagues.

    Theo didn't build the Red Sox championship teams but he did tear the team down to the point that Henry and Werner basically fired him.

    After the Sox got rid of Theo, they undid many of his disastrous transactions via a trade with Los Angeles. Had they not successfully done so, the Red Sox would never have won their championship last year.

    But you keep believing that Theo spin.

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    Bitter, party of two, your table is ready. A cocky New Yorker that hates Theo? Who would have thunk it?

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    Haha! Now that is some hometown bias and a little bit of jealousy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    and a healthy dollop of dumb-ass.

  • In reply to SKMD:


  • Slightly off topic, but was reading this article on how many innings Tanaka has pitched: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20131227/masahiro-tanaka-major-league-baseball-value/

    He's thrown 1,315 innings by age 25. Kershaw has 1,164 over the same stretch (18 through 24 - minors included), Samardzija has only 842 combined in every year from minors through this season.

    Looks like he has about 200 additional innings on his arm compared to young pitchers with some mileage, or one season.

    Tanaka has averaged 187 innings per year in his 7 seasons in Japan. This scares me a little, but not enough. Does it scare you?

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    It is certainly a concern and one I'm sure the Cubs will have to weigh when they make their bid.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    I am always a little nervous about heavy financial investments on pitchers. Pitchers break. More so than any other position. So it's nice to cast a big net for a bunch pf lottery tickets to fill in the gaps if and when your big arms go down.

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    In reply to Break The Curse:

    FWIW, Mitch Williams addressed this point on MLB Tonight a day or so ago - his take was, this is just the way it's done in Japan, there was a game where Tanaka threw 160 pitches, and if you're going to go after a Japanese pitcher that's just part of the deal - moreover, if you try to change their habit when they come over here it throws them off their rhythm. Not sure what makes Mitch Williams an expert on Japanese pitchers, but there you have one man's opinion.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Another critical factor regarding Japanese SP pitch counts that most people don't realize is that almost every NPB team uses a 6 Man Rotation and the NPB doesn't play on Mondays (except rare occasions) - This means that Japanese Starting Pitchers usually are pitching on 7 days rest. That was the case for Tanaka last year with Rakuten as well. Of course that went out the window in the playoffs, where Tanaka came into close the final game the day after pitching a complete game in the finals.

    Tom Verducci of S.I. had an article in 2011 that talks about this after the Red Sox Dice-K signing where he talks about the "3 year wall" that Japanese players seem to run into in the MLB because of this very factor...


    Also CJBaseball did a review of the same article...


    Considering that the Cubs are about to enter the bidding process (if they haven't already) for Tanaka and possibly sign away a huge chunk of cash and flexibility, these articles should be required reading right now. It personally doesn't scare me with Tanaka. He has a solid 6'2" -205 lbs athletic frame that should be able to hold up. Also his best pitch is his splitter probably followed by his slider and he uses them to setup his FB, not the other way around. Also he is more Iwakuma, than Darvish (although he can get it up to 96) in terms of being more about great command and pitchability than overpowering heat.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    thanks for the links Ghost Dawg

  • I think of those free agent lefty hitters, I like Headey as the safest pick. It seems to me that the Cubs should have a spare right handed middle of the order power hitter to offer to trade for a good lefty bat. Also is in house Rubi Silva making a case?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Silva is LH version of Junior Lake. He's exciting to watch and shows a ton of potential.... but still very very raw. He's still very much a boom/bust prospect.

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    "a bit older but speed players tend to retain value. "

    I thought it was just the opposite - that players that rely on speed for their value lose it more quickly after age 30. I made that point on another thread a few days ago, and you guys just sat there and let me babble without correcting me?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I thought that too but TangoTiger did a study on this and found that speed players tend to retain value better. In general athletic players tend to hold value longer. Considering Tango works for the Cubs as a consultant, I have to believe they subscribe to this idea as well.

  • DH should be a four letter word around here that should not be repeated. If NL ever adopts the DH I'm outta here.

  • In reply to jdale:

    I'm with you, but I think the DH will expand in the first CBA after Selig. It's a damn shame.

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    In reply to jdale:

    I'm outta here. which means what, a) it's our fault the NL adopts the DH, or b) you're shaving your head, becoming a monk and renouncing baseball until the NL gives in to you personally, or c) you're going to commit hari-kiri ?

    just yanking your chain.

  • In reply to jdale:

    I made the point before (and not sure anyone else really cares about this point) but I like the concept of making the DH a choice of the home team.

    I am certain, however, my incentive for DH at all in NL is clouded by the fact that (1) I am convinced it will happen in next CBA and (2) I want Vogelbomb hitting in our lineup.

  • John – Love very much your continued digs about the value of 2nd round picks, as we know you were open to the Cubs signing the 32-year old Shin Soo Choo this offseason, and giving up that very same 2nd round pick, if the contract years and AAV were appealing. Clearly the years and money were not right, as he got 3 more years and 75M more dollars than you were envisioning were the Cubs to sign him.

    But – if having the Cubs sign Shin Soo Choo, and losing their 2nd round pick, was a reasonable path for the Cubs to consider this offseason “IF the years and money are right”, then logic dictates that same philosophy should apply to the other remaining free agents? I will make the assumption that you and most everyone on this blog would forfeit the 2nd round pick to sign Ubaldo Jimenez for a one-year contract worth $10M, while most all would reject signing Jimenez if his contract was in Anibal Sanchez territory (5years/90M). His contract will obviously come out somewhere in the middle.

    My question – how low would the contract have to go for you to be interested in Jimenez and lose that pick? What dollar amount do you place on that 2nd round pick is what I’m really trying to get at here.

    Thanks John - keep up the great work on the blog.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    I think I have made my point pretty clear by now on why it's a bad idea. I'm willing to keep an open mind if someone has a good baseball + economic reason for signing a Ubaldo Jimenez level pitcher to a multi-year deal and forfeiting a draft pick, especially given where the Cubs stand now. But so far I haven't seen an objective compelling argument for it. Given that the Cubs have shown no interest in signing him to a multi-year deal, I'm thinking they feel the same way.

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    Why would you want to forfeit that pick for a second tier FA like that. And getting only one year for it? No thanks not me.

  • John , maybe you can help me out . Theo is big on turning short term assets into long term assets so why hasn't there been any discussions on resigning or trading Nate Schierholtz ? He bats left and there seems to be a need in the future for a left handed hitter so why not sign him to maybe a three year deal ? I realize he doesn't hit lefties well , but he can be platooned . If he is not in the future plans then why hasn't he been traded yet seeing this is his last year under control ?

  • In reply to walterj:

    Teams have asked about Schierholtz but no team is willing to give up a decent prospect so the Cubs see more value in keeping him. Re-signing him is possible though I think the Cubs are more hopeful that Sweeney can be a long term piece since he is a year younger, can play CF if needed, and hits LHP better. We'll see what happens this season with both of those players.

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    the cubs have payroll flexibility right now and major holes and aren't even spending on short term deals, i doubt they will spend next year either unless somebody in their prime is available. They are gonna slogg it out for 2 more years before they do anything big in FA. Hope for tanaka or another mid 20's Japanese FA to come along.


    Very RH, so I could see a move or 2 to get more LH.

    Its depressing to think we have to wait 2 more years to start trying, but is there any indication otherwise?

  • News report RE: Tanaka


    Don't know if anybody has posted this before (didn't see it anyway). According the the report his is 'looking for $17 MM/year'

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    so am i, what a coincidence. Not sure either of us are going to get it. No question he's been a stud but there are some serious concerns, mostly concerning how well he'll do against MLB hitters and for how long. I'll stick with my prediction, 7-8 yrs @15mil AAV.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I'll personally settle for $2-3 MM/year SKMD,.... :D

    Then again - I probably have a 70 mph 'fastball' and 50 mph changeup. So for me that would be a 'good' wage.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    In reality - I probably have a 40-50 mph 'fastball' at this stage. Might have had a 60-70 mph one on a good day, back in my ear 20s, with a signficant wind to my back,....

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    was pretty abashed to see my 12 year old throwing 52 mph a couple of years back and I was in the high 40's...

    but why settle for only 2-3 mil? you're a rich doctor, you can do better than that.....;)

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I'd do it for $17M per season.

  • Just playing around with ideas, but how about a three team trade...

    Rays get: 1 prospect from Cubs, two prospects from the third team
    Cubs get: David Price
    3rd team (Blue Jays/Dbacks/Orioles etc) gets: Jeff Samardzija

    Tanaka and Price would be a deadly 1-2 punch.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    And you don't think that a motivated and inspired Samardzija + Tanaka wouldn't be a deadly 1-2 punch?

    And then we get to keep the prospect.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I'd take Price over Samardzija (the prospect too, as long if it's not Baez, Almora, or Bryant) all day.

    Price is a legit #1. For all of the velocity drop talk, he flat out dominated after his DL stint. Even if Samardjiza reaches his potential, big if, I don't see it competing with Price. Now you also have to consider if Price wants to sign an extension, how much that would cost, how the prospect turns out etc. But I don't mind taking a chance with someone that has his kind of track record.

    Maybe the prospect could be Alcantara, with Zobrist, Escobar, and Rodriguez reaching free agency at the end of the 2015 season the Rays might have a spot open. We don't know how the roster will play out in 2015 and beyond but we're deep with IF options and someone like Alcantara would be expendable.

    Team #3 would only have to give up two pieces as opposed to the three that the Rays/Cubs are looking for in return for their starters. The Rays get their three guys. The Cubs get a a top of the rotation pitcher.

    I see it as a win-win(-win) for everyone.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    The way you value the two pitchers is pretty subjective. Price was worth just over 4 wins above replacement last year. Samardzija was worth 3. You're not buying any more time in terms of cost control and it won't be any easier to sign Price to an extension. So you're picking up another win above replacement, maybe two at most, in the short term and trading what will undoubtedly have to be one of your top prospects to get it because Tampa's asking price for Price has been astronomical. So what you are likely doing on average is trading 3 extra wins combined in the next 2 years for a top prospect. I don't see the value of such a deal.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Price'a post injury stats-
    2.86 ERA
    107 strikeouts/15 walks (in 19 starts)
    Went 7 innings or more in 15 of those 19 starts with 5 complete games (which is one more than all Cubs pitchers have combined for in the past two seasons)

    I'm not worried too much about overuse, his pitch counts in those complete games: 98, 87, 97, 105, 118. He's uber-efficient.

    Give me, give me!

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    So the Cubs get Price for a prospect and Shark and the 3rd team gets Shark for two high level prospects?

    Doesn't seem to be equal value there, even for the Rays.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Which team do you think is getting hosed? I think it makes everyone happy. No one gives up too much, everyone gets something significant.

    MLBTR reported earlier this week... "The Rays and Cubs want at least three very good players for David Price and Jeff Samardzija, respectively, whether they're major league-ready or top prospects."

    That's exactly what I'm giving the Rays. You can mix and match between two teams of players. I'm sure they can find three prospects that they like. Obviously if there's a better offer out there the Rays would take it, but I'm meeting the minimum criteria that was put forth as to what they would want to get back for Price.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Would you do Shark and Bryant? Because that is likely what it would take. Jays would have to give up Stroman and Sanchez because that is what it would take.

    I think the team that comes out the best in this case is the Rays.

    I for one wouldn't give up Bryant at this point.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I'd do one of Soler/Alcantara/Wilson/Vogelbach. Soler would be the hardest one to part with, I'd do so a little reluctantly. Some scouts/teams are higher on CJ than others, seems to fluctuate a lot, I wonder what the Rays think of him. I really like Johnson, I wouldn't part with him.

    The Rays have the best trade chip, they should get the best package. I think Price is worth three high level prospects. No more though and I don't think two is enough.

    What do you think is a good package for Price? I definitely wouldn't go for four players.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I like the outside the box thinking, but the problem is that from a purely objective standpoint, I can't see why the Cubs would ever do it. Here is what I mean...

    It would mean giving up a top prospect for what amounts to 1 or 2 wins extra per year (split the difference and make it a gain of 3 total wins above replacement over the next two seasons combined) and then he'll be a free agent.

    Whether you think they can re-sign him isn't a factor because in reality it's an unknown. Deals are made based on the cost control that's available. They are made according to known quantities and objective data, so what you are trading in effect is equal cost control for a pitcher who is a one win upgrade -- two at best, for a period of two years in which the team is rebuilding. And in exchange you will give up 6 years of cost control of one of the Cubs top prospects.

    The Cubs would turn it down based on objective measurements of short and long term value. It would be a loss for them because the short term gain (assuming the prospect doesn't contribute in the next two years) doesn't outweigh the long term loss, especially since the Cubs don't expect to win in the two years in which they make that short term gain.. It's just not how trades are done in today's front offices.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I take WAR from FanGraphs with a grain of salt especially when a guy like Jeff Samardzija is at 2.8 and Zach Greinke is 2.9 for 2013.

    I've read through the definitions of both fangraphs and baseball reference and baseball reference's just seem to be more accurate from a numbers standpoint.

    Case in point, they had Samardzija at 1.0 and Greinke at 3.9, doesn't that seem more accurate? Fangraphs is saying they are basically the same, while BR's show that Grienke is significantly better, which I believe to be true.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Just digging into the numbers some more. Samardzija's FanGraph's WAR is inflated partly due to his high strikeout rate.

    Someone like Bronson Arroyo is basically penalized for not striking out a high number of hitters and it shows with his 0.8 WAR from FanGraphs when his numbers as a whole are on par, if not better than Jeff's. There's more examples. Baseball Reference also has it's fair share of duds too. By no means are any of these formulas perfect.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    There is a reason i don't use b-WAR for pitchers in any article. It is too results based and thus doesn't sufficiently filter out those things pitchers cannot control. Fangraphs does a better job of separating pitchers individual performance from outside factors.

    I take any objective measurement more seriously when evaluating value over your subjective opinion that Price is "a legit ace" or what metric you think seems more accurate based on your previously held beliefs. You can spin this however you want, but that trade has no long term value and it will never happen.

    And even if you use b-WAR it still doesn't change the equation. We're still talking about maybe 3.5 wins over replacement over the next two years combined when you compare Samardzija and Price. That slight difference doesn't change the equation.

    And lastly we're talking about 2 years of Price! 2 years in which the Cubs will largely be rebuilding!

    So, nice try, but I suspect this isn't your area of expertise. The bottom line is that you think Price is so much better for subjective reasons but using stats as lamp posts to go with a random assumption that Price will be easier to extend and/or that he will sign a deal more in line with his value. You don't know that to be true. Even if it turns out to be true, that value cannot be calculated into the trade equation.

    There just isn't any gained long term value in your idea and the short term gain just doesn't justify losing a potential 6 year cost controlled starter given where the Cubs are today. That's how bad deals are made.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I think most people would agree that Price is a legit ace, there's nothing subjective about it.

    I've repeatedly stated you don't consider it without an extension in order, so not two years, seven years.

    "It wouldn't be a move made to compete next season. It's a move to compete in the future. I think you have to treat it like an RA Dickey situation where you pull the trigger if there's a contract extension in place. You would obviously have to know his intentions and not go into it blindly. Don't do it if he treats it like a Seattle situation and says no. There's no reason to. I think a deal can be hammered out. The Felix Hernandez contract of 7/175 seems fair. It carries him through his age 28-34 seasons."

    So 7 years of Price!

    Do you think Shark and Grienke are practically the same pitcher? I don't. Don't take WAR so seriously, there's other metrics to look at.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    You obviously are more interested in talking about your opinion than considering an objective, rational analysis of trade value, so not much point in continuing here.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    It would be a little easier to continue if you had taken into account 7 years, which I clearly stated multiple times, I agree 2 years(!) makes no sense, but I wasn't talking about two so...

    Yeah, no point.


  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    This is an example of what I mean about you not listening. Teams never factor in the possibility of an extension when calculating trade value. It's not part of the equation. You can only take into account current cost values in the real world.

    But like I said, you are not interested in a rational discussion. Only in stating and re-stating your opinions, so I've lost interest in taking this any further.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Outside of Soler, Rays wouldn't do the other 3 prospects. In order for Cubs to get Price, they are going to have to give up Shark and one of the Big 4, if not more.

    And frankly, I would rather keep Shark and the prospect than acquire PRice. I love Price, but the cost is just too high.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    The Cubs want at least 3 very good players for Samardzija, and you think they'll give up a top prospect and seven years of cost control for two years of David Price? This is a non-starter.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't think any of this is going to happen, just an interesting scenario. I think a bonafide ace like Price is worth more than 3 lottery tickets, price included.

    I also said you do it if there's an extension in place, similar to the RA Dickey trade, it's a completely different scenario then just two years of cost control, which I addressed earlier.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    "It wouldn't be a move made to compete next season. It's a move to compete in the future. I think you have to treat it like an RA Dickey situation where you pull the trigger if there's a contract extension in place. You would obviously have to know his intentions and not go into it blindly. Don't do it if he treats it like a Seattle situation and says no. There's no reason to. I think a deal can be hammered out. The Felix Hernandez contract of 7/175 seems fair. It carries him through his age 28-34 seasons."

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Wouldn't make sense for the Cubs. Trading a guy with 2 years of cost control for a guy with 2 years of cost control. The Cubs are going to need a hell of a lot more than Tanaka and the upgrade from Shark to Price in order for them to be competitive next year.

    If they trade Shark, I think it's almost a stone cold lock they're going to get guys they'll control beyond 2015.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    It wouldn't be a move made to compete next season. It's a move to compete in the future. I think you have to treat it like an RA Dickey situation where you pull the trigger if there's a contract extension in place. You would obviously have to know his intentions and not go into it blindly. Don't do it if he treats it like a Seattle situation and says no. There's no reason to. I think a deal can be hammered out. The Felix Hernandez contract of 7/175 seems fair. It carries him through his age 28-34 seasons.

    I never saw Samardzija re-signing, like I said earlier, his value sky-rockets on the open market even if he comes back to the Cubs. I don't see why he won't at least wait it out. He has been waiting it out for awhile now. Two good years and he's a $100 million pitcher on the open market. He has the confidence in himself to prove his worth, I don't see that changing. I'd be very surprised if Samardzija resigns without dipping his toe in free agency, the option to rejoin the Cubs will most likely still be there if he wants it, but he'd have a bunch more offers to mull over and drive his price up.

    I also don't think WAR tells the whole story. Across the board, Price is a much better pitcher than Samardzija. Price also was injured last year and who knows how many starts he was pitching with aches and pains. He sure didn't look like himself before his DL stint. After he came back he picked up right where he left off in his Cy Young season. Thats why I wouldn't put too much stock on WAR in a season where he missed a month and a half due to injury that possibly affected his first month and a half. The overall body of work paints a clearer picture. It's not only the stats it's the intangibles. Price is a Top 10 pitcher in baseball and a true ace. He's everything that people want Samardzija to be. Also the leadership that Price has is something the Cubs sorely need. I can see him coming in and establishing a winning attitude and culture change from the beginning.

    This is probably all for naught. Fake trades rarely if ever happen, even less so for three team trades.

  • Anyone else thinking it would be smarter to offer Tanaka more money per year v longer length of contract. Like 5 years at 21 million versus 7 years at 17 million? If arm troubles surface, those extra contract years may prove painful. BTW, would love to see Homer Bailey in Cubbie blue. Think his best has yet to come.

  • In reply to JB55:

    I agree. I think I'd rather do higher AAV on a shorter term deal if that's possible.

  • In reply to JB55:

    I'd actually prefer the longer deal of those two options. You would be paying $119M versus $105M, so you would be getting the sixth and seventh years for $7M AAV. That would be quite a bargain.

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    Good point. In general, I prefer to take less years but I didn't take a close look at the numbers but in that scenario, I'd probably take the longer term deal too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And four years down the road when Tanaka is still shy of reaching his thirties, if the Cubs found their farm system loaded with young pitchers, Tanaka would be a valuable trade commodity if they elected to go that route, assuming of course that they don't give him a NTC.

    I didn't give the Cubs much chance originally so I didn't list Tanaka in the Cubs will sign???? contest. But with the $20M posting cap, I think they have a very legitimate chance of signing him. They figure to at least get an opportunity to make their best sales pitch, as opposed to potentially having the second highest posting fee bid and not getting a chance to speak with Tanaka.

  • I could see Tanaka and his agent wanting a 5 year deal, where he would be a free agent again at age 30. Question, we know Theo has an aversion to the no trade, is that going to be a deal breaker?

  • I would think that in this case it would be the contrary, Theo would probably have to include some opt-out clauses... If the rebuilding scheme is a problem for Tanaka, adding some opt-out clauses could help him out of it to go to a contender.

    That said, I think and I would indeed like to think that in Tanaka's case, Theo is and will be willing to include a partial NTC.

  • Been saying it for awhile, but it fits best in this thread. I'd love if the plan for the next few years was:

    This offseason: Tanaka or bust
    Next offseason: Top flight starting pitcher, possibly 2 if Tanaka doesn't end up with the Cubs
    Offseason entering 2016: 1 premier position player filling in holes where prospects didn't pan out. Top flight starting pitcher if they didn't acquire 2 in the previous 2 offseasons.

    That could be a hell of a team, with the young position player studs + a top position player prospect and 2 top starters to add to whoever has come up in the system/is left from Wood/Arrieta/EJax/Shark.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I'm down with that plan if it works out that way. As long as they get a pitcher or two and a good LH hitter in the next two years I will feel pretty good about 2015/2016.

  • Top left-handed prospects
    Jackie Bradley - Boston
    Gregory Polanco -Pirates
    Austin Meadows -Pirates
    Oscar Taveras - Cardinals

    Who are the top left-handed outfield prospects or infield prospects that could move to left field?

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    Rubi Silva is the only one I would consider realistic. And he is not anywhere near the prospect as the guys you listed. Andreoli and Szczur are right handed.

  • Why won't the website update? This administrator message is getting real old. It should be fixed not accepted.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    working now. Is that a bug that can't be fixed for some reason?

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I sent another note to the tech people but it may not get looked at until after the holidays. Hopefully it will get fixed this time.

  • I know the hope is that all of the Big 4 will make a significant contribution in the next two years. However, assuming Almora, who seems to have the highest floor, does not make it until 2016, it means that we may only see significant contributions from the other three and only then once we hit the 2015 season. And that is assuming all of them hit it big. If we assume only one of the three hit it big than I am curious what others think the Cubs will do at that time. Do they go heavy on free agency or do they stay purely with in house solutions?

  • In reply to Cubs69:

    If even 2 of the Fab four make it big that still makes it a lot easier to fill the holes IMO. Of course I'm greedy and want to see them all make it. I'm excited to see if they can get one of the top pitchers in the draft. Either way we are in a great position if they draft a college arm. If they draft a position player I feel that sets us back.

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