John is taking the day to deal with some personal issues, which means I get to be the five year old hamming it up for the camera today. I've eaten a bunch of sugar. I'm way too hyper. AIEEEEEEEE! Here we go:
- If it seems like there have been a lot of huge deals this offseason but fewer minor ones, that's because it's true. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs has an interesting article on the role of the new TV money in the megadeals being handed out. He concludes it's quite possible that this will be the first time ever that multi-year contracts outnumber one-year deals. How does this impact the Cubs? That's a lot of money being tied up for a very long time. By steering clear of free agents who don't fit their financial and development timeline, the Cubs leave themselves with a lot of flexibility when they need it.
- There remains a possibility, however, that the Cubs may dip into free agency to sign another veteran starter to solidify the rotation. The top two players still available are Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both players received qualifying offers and, thus, are tied to draft pick compensation. There is little evidence that the Cubs are interested in either one.
Going slightly deeper, though, there are still some good options out there. A.J. Burnett recently announced his intention to pitch this year, and likely becomes the third best pitcher available. Early reports, however, suggest that the Orioles and Rays are in on him. The Cubs are not mentioned and it seems unlikely he would choose a rebuilding scenario at this point in his career.
The best options out there might be former Red Bronson Arroyo and former Cub Paul Maholm. Arroyo recently expressed frustration that he is languishing while teams spent $155 million on a guy who has never pitched in the majors. Both could be solid middle of the rotation guys for the Cubs this season.
After them, it starts to drop off pretty quickly. Former Oriole Jason Hammel and former Angels Jerome Williams and Tommy Hanson would likely come next. Hammel has his fans here, and may wind up being a bargain signing. However, I'm pretty reticent to rely on castoffs from a team as weak as the Angels were last season.
- One guy that won't be coming back to the north side is Scott Baker. Baker signed an incentive-laden minor league deal with the Mariners yesterday, which includes an invite to spring training. Baker pitched in a few games last September for the Cubs, but could never regain his velocity following Tommy John surgery in April, 2012. He gets $1 million for making the team, with an extra $3.25 million in incentive pay. This is essentially the same lottery ticket the Cubs bought last year for $5.5 million. Given the deal contains virtually no risk for the Mariners, I have to believe that the Cubs weren't that interested in bringing him back and that his velocity problems scared a lot of teams off.
- With the draft starting to take shape, CSN Chicago has some bad news for Cubs fans. The White Sox are leaning pitcher, and have already interviewed the "top 3" (Probably Carlos Rodon, Jeff Hoffman, and Tyler Beede.) If this is accurate, it seems unlikely the Cubs will get the college pitcher they were hoping for. Seriously, just a split with the Sox last year and this is a non-issue.
- CSN ran a less depressing article, this one about catcher Welington Castillo. In it, catching coach Mike Borzello points out that, while Castillo made big strides defensively last year, this year the focus will be on calling games, reading scouting reports, and working with the pitchers.
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