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Opportunity Knocks: Cubs need to address pitching this offseason, even if they have to overpay

Opportunity Knocks: Cubs need to address pitching this offseason, even if they have to overpay

You know me well enough to know that I am not an instant gratification type, that I am wired to think more in terms of process than results.  So what I am about to say next may be a bit surprising to some of you.

The Cubs need to go buy pitching.  And buy it now.  And by "now", I mean this offseason.

Are they ready to win in 2015?  Well, no.   There is always "the plan". but there is no such thing as exact timelines when it comes to winning.  You cannot tell yourself, "Ok, on such and such date, we are going to start buying free agents and trading prospects so we can start contending".  It doesn't work that way.

Here is the thing:  You can control your inner organizational process and you can stick by it, but you cannot control the environment around you.  And the environment just presented the Cubs with a unique opportunity that they cannot afford to pass up.

The trade deadline saw free agents to be Jon Lester and Justin Masterson get moved to the Athletics and the Cardinals, respectively.  While it is no certainty that they will become free agents, the Cubs need to pounce if they do, particularly on Lester.  The reason, as we have talked about numerous times, is that they will become unrestricted free agents if they do hit the market.  That is to say, the Cub will not have to give up a draft pick to sign them.  They can make a move for the next few years without sacrificing a long term asset.

Lester is going to cost money and the Cubs will undoubtedly have to overpay in terms to acquire  him.  To be clear, I do mean overpay in terms of AAV.  Overpaying in terms of contract length is a different story because it diminishes long term payroll flexibility.

The Cubs have worked diligently to create payroll flexibility over the past 3 years because they recognize that that in itself is a tremendous asset.  The Cubs are now in a financial position to take a chance and, if necessary, absorb the cost if it doesn't turn out as hoped.  This may sound strange but the ability to overpay a player in free agency is something of a privilege that shouldn't be taken lightly.  The Cubs have earned this privilege not just by cutting payroll, but by building a roster that features talented, young, low cost -- and cost-controlled -- players for the next several years.

They have Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo on the books at team friendly rates through their prime.   There is no need to worry about the Cubs having to pay big as they become free agents in their prime years.  The Jorge Soler long term deal is beginning to look like a bargain as well, though if he plays up to expectations he will likely opt for the arbitration process, as is his contractual right.  Still, even if that happens, it means that Soler is outplaying his original contract and the Cubs will have yet another good young player at pre-free market rates.  In addition to Soler, they have a group of players coming up between now and 2015 that will be cost-controlled for the next 5-6 years.  It's a group that includes Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant.  If we include Welington Castillo (and hope for a rebound), that's a whole lot of cheap, cost-controlled talent that should be in the Wrigley lineup at some point in 2015.

Emerging TOR Jake Arrieta doesn't become a free agent until after the 2017 season.  Travis Wood has two full years before free agency.  The Cubs have several low cost candidates to fill out the bottom of the rotation and/or bullpen such as Kyle Hendricks, Felix Doubront (same cost control as Arrieta), Tsuyoshi Wada, and Dallas Beeler.  If one of those guys can snag that 5th spot, the Cubs may only need to fill one spot -- or it gives them flexibility to deal Edwin Jackson or even Wood, free up even more money, and get a second free agent starter who can fit in the middle of the rotation.

While we are on the subject, I think the Cubs need to find a taker for Jackson.  In fact, I'd put him on waivers and if a team claims him,  put the phone on silent and wait it out. Let them eat his salary as the Jays had the White Sox do with Alex Rios.  If he passes through waivers, which is more likely, then I think the Cubs should still try to make a deal that focuses more on freeing payroll than prospect return.  Because, honestly, do we really expect to receive  a top pitching prospect for Jackson at this point?  I'd rather have the money back and relish the chance at a do-over with another free agent this offseason.

Whether or not the Cubs are able to unload Jackson, however, they should hit the market aggressively.  One of the things about signing free agents that can be underrated is establishing a relationship with the player.  Yes, it is almost exclusively about the money but in the end, the money is going to be roughly the same between 2 or more teams.  A comfort factor may tip the scales,as it did with Anibal Sanchez going back to the Tigers two years back.  The Cubs also would have had to have significantly outbid the Yankees to pry Masahiro Tanaka away from his dream of playing in the Bronx.

This time, those intangibles may actually work in the Cubs favor.  They have that relationship/comfort factor already taken care of with Lester and Masterson, the Cubs can dive right into business and make an aggressive offer to try to get one of them in the fold early.  If that happens, that sets up the rest of the offseason because now perception changes.  It sends the message that the Cubs are going to start playing for keeps and it's not just a place to get an opportunity, get flipped, and then hit the free agent market.  It will be about jumping in on the ground floor of a movement that is about to take off. A high profile signing like Lester could open up the flood gates.  It can almost instantly change the perception of Wrigley from a nice place to play some day baseball to a place where people will want to come because they know they can win.

That is my selling point to Lester.  You be that guy who leads the Cubs into the next phase and we promise to keep backing you up with the pieces needed to seal the deal around the young core.  You want to throw to a veteran catcher like Russell Martin?  We have the means and flexibility to go and get him.  You want us to trade for another pitcher to go with Arrieta in the top 3?  We can do that too.   The Cubs have built all kinds of currency and now suddenly find themselves in what looks to be buyer's market this offseason.  The question shifts from whether the Cubs can afford to sign a free agent or trade for a veteran to whether they can afford not to.

Opportunities come and go, but you cannot control when that happens.  All you can do is put yourself in an opportunity to take advantage of  it when it does come. The Cubs have spent 3 years preparing for that opportunity and now a unique one could be knocking on the door this offseason.

The Cubs need to answer it this time.

 

 

 

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  • The Nationals did the same thing when they went out and spent huge on Jason Werth. Everyone was wondering what they were doing but it was time to start competing. I agree that Lester changes a lot. The kids are here, Arrieta has legit Cy Young stuff this year, cheap bottom of the rotation pitchers, solid bullpen....go make that splash. The real thing with Lester I think will be years. Can you get him for 5 years or will he want a 7-8 year deal? Also, will the Cubs spend on any international guys like Maeda?

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    In reply to Ike03:

    Remember that the Nats also traded some big time prospects for Gio Gonzalez, something I hope the Cubs have the stones to do.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    5 years would be ideal but that will depend on the market. I prefer less years and a higher AAV given the Cubs current situation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    4/90? That might not be a bad idea, especially since the team wont have a huge payroll anytime soon. Lester is a very good pitcher pitching half his games in Fenway-Hed likely be ev en better in Wrigley.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I don't think he would do that, considering this is Lester's last big contract. He will want around 6 years @ $140 Million. At $140 Million - 6 years it would be about $23.3 Million AAV. But I agree if the Cubs would go say $25 Million per year, then they might be able to get him to go 5 years which I would definitely prefer. 5 years at $125 Million would be a good deal for both sides considering the Cubs will have to overpay some to get a front-line starter. It would give the team instant credibility, it would give all the young kids confidence in both their team and in the front office's intent to field a winner. Not to mention the benefit that a guy like Lester could have on the the younger members of the pitching staff by sharing is knowledge.

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    Yes! I agree 100%. I think by definition teams overpay when going after free agents, but it is time to roll the dice. I also hope they explore a Rizzo/Cashner-type of deal, but in reverse - with the pitcher coming to the Cubs. I'm not sure which Cub player would be dealt (Castro?), or the specific timing (offseason, not July?).

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Why would you trade the only MLB proven SS we have?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I might not. It would depend on what is offered. But if Byrant could stick at 3rd, and Russell could approach his ceiling, then I would consider it. I do like Castro a lot. But you never to give up quality to get it.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Not this offseason, though. In 18 months time we'll know what Russell has done in AAA and have pretty much a full major league season from Baez, Bryant, Soler, and Alcantara. That's the time to make decisions on Castro.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree, but if the Nationals offered a package with Giolito and Cole and some mid level prospects for Castro, I'd do it in a heartbeat and roll the dice that two out of Baez, Alcantara and Russell can be our SS-2B combo

  • In reply to springs:

    I would take that deal also. But the Nationals will not offer it.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agree, not top prospects should be traded before July 2015
    unless we can get a fairly young top pitcher

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The Mets have some nice young high ceiling arms like Harvey, Wheeler and Snydergaard. And they currently dont have much at SS.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    I'm not a fan of the deal but it's one I could see happening. With Wheeler (most likely centerpiece) you're getting a guy who has had major league success and would step into the middle of the rotation immediately.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I acknowledge it wont happen, but if we give up Castro, I wouldn't accept less than Wheeler + Thor. I'd throw in Hendricks if it would make it happen.

    But Castro's contract is insane value.

    Tulo has close to $150 MM coming to him and Ian Desmond wants 100 million+.

    By comparison, Castro is virtually free.

  • I agree... but I disagree.

    I believe this FO will draw that proverbial line in the sand as to where it no longer makes sense for us financially on FA's and will not cross it, no matter what.

    I dont think they should just overpay because they can. This isn't the time to do that. The time to do that is when we are one/two players away from a WS run. We're not there yet. I expect them to go hard after FA pitching, but we dont know where they rank/grade each of these guys value wise. And just like they did with Sanchez and Tanaka, I doubt they do anything that is beyond what they value them at...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    This is exactly the time to spend big on one free agent acquisation like Lester. The cubs need a TOR pitcher to help speed up the timeline and to help anchor the rotation for years to come. I agree that they will ultimately draw the proverbial ine when it comes to financially making sense.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    I'm not saying that. I'm saying it is too soon to OVERPAY for a FA. We're not one SP away from making a WS run.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Sorry, my interpretation of your comment was wrong. The cubs will have to overpay to get Lester. I just hope it's not a HUGE overpay, so I agree with you on that then.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Well, I think that goes without saying. I didn't mean no limits when I said overpay. There were limits to Tanaka and Sanchez and there will be one for Lester. Hopefully this time an agreement can be reached within those limits, but just like those two at the time, they they will have to overpay to some degree to have a chance.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I felt, at the time, what they offered Sanchez and Tanaka both were overpays. I'm sure they'll go hard after the FA's they covet. I just don't see them crossing their proverbial line in the sand until we are in our 'window" of making a WS run.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    One exec I know told me he thought Sanchez was a huge overpay. But disagree on window. Can't plan for windows of opportunity, have to take them when they come.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ok well planned or not, we do not have a window of opportunity for 2015 unless we go all out in FA and trade several prospects for established MLB vets... so my point is still the same. We are not in our "window".

    We can say 5yrs, etc for Lester or whoever... but it's just like we said we'd like Choo for 3 years or ellsbury for 5yrs, etc... they're going to get a lot more money and a lot longer contract than we want to ideally offer right now.

    While I can see the FO making those types of deals once we are in our window, I don't see them spending excessively until they feel we are about to enter our window, whether the time line is planned or not.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think the window is more open than you do. It might not be "wide open" so to speak but definitely opening. And I believe that our FO thinks so, too.

    And I agree with John that it's impossible to predict these kinds of opportunities. Price, Shark, Cueto might never reach Free agency.

    And I would argue that we can't put ourselves in a position to do what the A's and Tigers gave done this year without an extra SP boost.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I didn't say it wasn't "opening". I said we are not in it. HUGE difference.

    This FO plays probabilities. And it's just not a probability that we are competing for the post season in 2015 with almost half our roster 25 or under with several of them rookies... .

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Its not like we're talking about a one year contract. Lester would be key for 2016 and 2017+ too.

    He will be available. There's no way to know if a pitcher of equivalent or better talent will become available in years to come.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Giffmo^^

    Someone is going to give Lester a 6 or 7 yr deal. Because they want him NOW. While he would be great for us too, he's likely a liability the last 2-3 years of that deal. He'll be 31 in January. It doesn't make sense for us to spend $125-$150MM+ when his prime years only overlap our window by a cpl of years...

    Like I originally said. This FO will set what their max price for Lester (and any other FA) and they will not exceed it. Whereas others in win now mode may exceed it. Once we are in our window, then I see us doing deals like that.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    But it IS a probability that the Cubs will be competing in 2016 or 17 when Lester would still be under contract and holding down a #1 or #2 position. Why wouldn't you want that? To save a little money for one year and hope that some other TOR becomes available? And also hope that they can sign them? Part of the probability game is also knowing that they may try to sign Lester and fail b/c someone goes way above where they feel comfortable (i.e.--Tanaka) so at least this gives them a better chance instead of putting all your eggs in a short window when you MUST then hugely overpay or else not get your TOR. In short, NOT going after a FA this offseason puts far more pressure on the FA to make the kill in future years and may cost you far, far more and make them make more desperate moves.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    @HoosierD

    Fair points, but in my opinion, Theo and Jed are antsy as hell. I think they hate losing more than it seems and now that they've built the consensus best system that is rapidly building redundancies, they are ready to unleash the kids and see what they've built.

    They've been holding back knowing that Rizzo and Castro were essentially the only competent players on offense.

    I really don't think they need a concrete assurance that the team is ready in the sense of the prospects proving themselves on the field. I think they just want something on the field not named Barney, or Nate, or Sweeney, etc etc etc.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    ^^Puravida^^

    read the totality of my posts on this subj. I am NOT opposed to signing Lester. What I am saying is that this FO will not grossly over pay in years for a TOR right now. They may do that when our window is upon us. But with so many unknowns with the youngsters, that could still be a year or two away.

    Also, everyone is speculating that they hyave a high degree of influence over Lester. If the NYY offer him 7yrs and $25MM per year vs a 4yr $25MM deal, guess who has the most influence...

    ^^Giffmo^^

    I never said Epstoyer enjoyed losing. I'm sure they hate it as much as anyone. But they are VERY disciplined. They will not allow their emotions to influence their baseball decisions. The will go into the Lester (and every FA) negotiations with a max limit in mind. They will not cross that. everyone is acting they will and should because we have the payroll flexibility now. But until we are within our window, I don't see them saying "screw the economics, we need this guy now".

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    ^^HD

    Agree. The FO is terribly competitive. They probably hate losing way more than the players do.

    I agree that any FA contract handed out this winter will be what I have been calling 'organizationally responsible'. Which doesn't mean they won't 'overpay', but they will not risk shooting themselves in the foot.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    This seems reasonable, but SOMEONE will always be there to overpay. This isn't 1999 when there were a handful of teams that could pay FA what they want. There are still a few teams that can write a blank check (NYY, LAA, BOS) and basically pay any amount for any players. But when you have Seattle outbidding NYY for Cano, LAA handing out massive deals to Pujols / Hamilton (and extending elite talent like Trout), Detroit spending massive amounts of money to FA and to extend their current players - basically every FA deal will 'look bad'. Its just how it is. I assume TheoJed walk into any negotiation with a number they wont cross. A number that is at the ceiling of 'reasonable'. Your max for Lester is 6/$120? Fine, NYY / LAA / BOS / #mysteryteam will go 7/$135. You want Tanaka for 6/$120M? Great, NYY will give him 7/$150M.

    Its just how it is. Either Theo will pay a premium or we will have to wait / pray he can build a system like the Cardinals have - whereby we only use FA for a non-elite player that fills a spot - and we extend all of our talent. The problem is this method extends our timeline to compete by a few years...

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    This is exactly what I'm saying Roscoe... Epstoyer will establish a max limit for a player (like they did with Tanaka, etc) and WILL NOT cross it. This will likely cost us the big name FA's. Once we are in our window of opportunity to compete for the post season, then I can see them out bidding the others because of our sense of urgency. I just dont think that time is this winter. Even though I expect them to be more aggressive than they were last year.

    Everyone just assumes given our low payroll and familiarity with Lester, that it's just a formality that he will sign with us. I hope they're right. But I see a handful of other teams willing to overpay more than our FO is...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Right, but then everyone needs to be prepared for Theo to basically do nothing other than sign a Scott Feldman-type contract (or maybe two). To me, this will be an interesting off season. If Theo does in fact make no major moves and signs a Feldman-type deal, we will literally trot out a $75M payroll. Assuming arb raises, guaranteed contracts (which are basically Castro, Rizzo and Jackson) - payroll is about $55M for 2015. Say Theo adds to Feldmans for $10M/per guy, you are looking at $75M.

    For me, as a fan and season ticket holder - that would be frighteningly low. We've bottomed out. Jackson at $11M/per is our biggest contract. We have massive amounts of elite talent in the minors (2 of which are on the cusp of Wrigley), nice / young players in Rizzo and Castro, an emerging Arietta, Alcantara and no bad contracts. We are ripe for being active in the FA market for marque players.

    Yet, I think Theo signs 1-2 reclamation projects and we throw up another 90 loss season in 2015....

    Everyone around here always talks about the value of draft picks yet hope for a competitive team in 2015. With that in mind, realize that this off season could be the last with a protected pick - so sign an elite guy now and only lose your 2nd round pick...

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I never said he will only sign reclamation projects. Nor am I predicting another 90 loss season for 2015.

    But I think it's not very probable that we are a playoff contender in 2015. With basically half of our roster under the age of 25 with most of them rookies or <1yr of MLB service time, I don't see the playoffs in 2015 anyways. And IMO, until we enter that "window" Epstoyer isn't going to outbid the LAD/LAA/NYY/BOS etc for the top name guys. Just like the Ellsbury's and Choo's of last year, they will receive much more money & years than we can comfortably afford right now.

    Once we are in our window, I can see them giving a TOR guy like Lester 7 years and be okay with him only contributing to playoff runs 4-5 of those years. I just dont see them doing that now when we may still be a year or two away from contenders and then Lester will be only be in his prime for half of that deal...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    "than we can comfortably afford right now". Well, I guess my question is, what can't we afford? We could legitimately give Scherzer $25M/year and Lester $20M/year and still be $10M less than the Cardinals in 2015. Heck, doing those two things probably puts us around the median payroll.

    I'm not advocating signing both those guys BTW, just pointing out that signing even one of them doesn't derail the long-term plans.

    I can see why Theo wouldn't want to commit big money / years to an offensive player - given the legitimacy of our position players in the minors. We don't need (and I would almost never advocate signing BP arms to larger deals). What we need is starting pitchers. We've been terrible for 4 straight years and almost all the deadwood has floated away. We have a pipeline of cheap / cost controlled players with considerable positional flexibility. A nice, young BP. Some established young stars already signed to very team friendly contracts.

    Signing one or two elite pitchers won't turn us into the Phillies overnight. Doing nothing, in fact, will probably put us in lock-step with the Phillies in 2015 actually...

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I'm not saying they wont try to sign one or both. But I dont expect them to deviate from their disciplined approach and exceed whatever their pre set limit is for those guys. Teams that are in win now mode may behave that way. But Epstoyer wont.

    Interesting article here:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/columnists/?id=phil_rogers

    This is along the lines of what I've saying. Hoyer may have reflected on a 2016/2017 timeline. So I think they may be done with protected picks, but they are still trying to accumulate as many pitching assets as possible to give them the ultimate payroll flexibility when they need it. Which is once our window is open. typing up Scherzer is looking for $200MM_ and Lester could go as high as $175MM.

    I just dont see 31yo SP's signing a 7 year deal as fitting within our window.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I hate to get into semantics, but everything depends upon the definition of the word "overpay". If you define it as paying more than a player is worth, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, they anyone would be an idiot to overpay.

    From the context of your article, you seem to be saying that Lester would have more value to this team than merely his performance on the field (an enticement to other free agents to sign with the Cubs rather than other teams - leadership for young players on the team, etc.). If so, they you are not actually overpaying, since you are getting value from these peripheral activities.

    These are valid things to consider when deciding value. Bonifacio and Russell have more value to the Braves than the Cubs because it is possible that they could lead the Braves to the playoffs and beyond this year. That is not value that they could give to the Cubs this year.

    There is also value added or subtracted by the length of the contract. It might be better if the Cubs paid Lester 25 million for 4 years than 20 million for 7 years.

    But I agree that this is the time to start gathering shorter term assets. Signing Lester for 4 years back in 2012 would have been foolish. Signing him for 4 years now might be a good idea.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Really great comment, Dave!!!

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Do you really think he will sign for 4yrs? This is his one and only shot at FA. Someone will "overpay" with 6-7=yrs and $20-$25MM+ per year... There's no way he can provide that type of value in his age 36-37yo seasons... but someone will give it to him because they want to win now. I just dont think we are there yet.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Absolutely right, HD.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I doubt very much if he would sign a 4 year contract. That doesn't change the relative values. It is possible that he is worth 4 year, @ 25 million to the Cubs, but is not worth 7 years @ 20 million.

    As you say, he may well be worth 7 years @ 20 million to another team, but not to the Cubs.

  • I agree with everything you have said. Lester is the one pitcher that the Cubs need to get. I was disappointed that the Cubs didn't get Tanaka, but I will be devastated if the Cubs don't get Lester. He just makes too much sense for the Cubs. They have a ton of money to be able to overpay Lester. They already are well familar with who he is and what he can do for the Cubs. Also, the Cubs won't lose a draft pick. They need to get him for next year.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    The F.O. had to be doing handsprings yesterday when he was traded!!!

  • I agree wholeheartedly. Go all in with pursuit of Lester in the off-season. Nice 1-2 with Arrieta. Waive EJax and pray someone takes him ... no prospect return needed. Salary and bullpen relief in one fell swoop.

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    I would rather see Beeler or Wada or Rusin or even the Moostache slotted in every 5 games than EJax at this stage. He's just lost whatever it was (physically or mentally - could argue either IMO) he had that used to give him an edge.

    Wasn't a huge fan of the EJax signing at the time - but at least then you figured the guy was good for 6-7 innings/start and holding the other guys to less than 4-5 runs while out there. Gotta figure that the guys on the edge of being rotation pieces in Iowa could do as well as EJax most of the time.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    EJax always had that tag...."At least he is an innings eater".

    Well, guess what, not anymore. It is a bit of Monday morning quarter backing (on my part) BUT looking at EJax resume, you would think given the number of teams that he has played for, including the Cardinals (where pitchers go to revive their careers), that maybe there was a reason he was well traveled.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    That thought had occurred to me at the time too MR. One of the reasons I had some concerns. I mean - the Nats didn't even make him a QA if I recall. One of the reasons he made sense to sign at the time by the Cubs.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    IIRC Dr. Kaz, there were rumors that Jackson getting a one year deal with the Nats was predicated, at least in part, on the notion that no Q.O. would be made.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    You know how you can always tell Ejax is going to struggle? when he throws fastballs that bounce 10 ft in front of the plate. Must have did that 10 times against the Rox the other night.

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    I don't know what God listens to your and John's prayers, but thinking that someone is going to pick up a $22 million obligation on a starter that has, at best, 1 out of 3 quality starts is going to take something that I don't think exists in the mortal world.

  • In reply to jack:

    sadly, only 1 Quality Start in June/July (10 outings).

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Which is saying something since some Quality Starts are pretty weak.

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    Yup. Lester this winter. Price next winter. And we finally win a World Series.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Easier said than done lol

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    In reply to JLynch2247:

    I think Lester's coming. I haven't been so sure of something since Theo took over. I'll go out on the limb on that one.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Lester to the Yankees. Because Yankees.

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    In reply to Phil James:

    The Yankees target will be Max Scherzer and the cubs will be in on it too just to run up the price so they can not sign Lester too. I hate the Yankees. Really do...

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Even the Stankees have limits. Hank is beginniing to cry over CC and Tanaka already. $50 million/yr in sore-armed starters.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree. I really think Lester will come too. Price will be harder to get because I have a feeling his contract will be north of 200 million.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    You're assuming that this FO values him in the same regard that you do. We don't know what they think of him internally.

    fwiw, I felt the same way about Tanaka last winter. He checked all the boxes. We made a run at him and offered more than he is realistically worth and was still over bid b ya team that felt they were closer to competing and willing to over pay. I just dont see this FO deviating from their disciplined approach and crossing that proverbial "line in the sand" and knowingly/willingly overpaying for a FA yet.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think they're ready to win by their own statements. They need pitching to do that. I know they don't want to give up draft choices or prospects to get it. I know they love Lester. They are on the verge of having money to spare. It's a real easy connection.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    too easy... and too easy to overlook the fact that another team w/b willing to offer him more money and years than us. I dont see this FO saddling us with a huge contract they know will be a drain for the last few years of it this early in the rebuild.

    You said they're ready to win by their own statements. But they also will not cross their proverbial line in the sand in which it no longer makes financial sense. According to Theo anyways:

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11282088

    You say you know they love Lester, but where do they grade him compared to others? How do they grade him compared to say Tanaka last year? vs Scherzer this year?

    We really dont know what we dont know. Your intuition is telling they will get him at all costs. You may be right. But there is no basis for this opinion other than speculation.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    But where is the line in the sand compared to just not realizing the market value for pitching is going up and we are all living in a world where pitching used to be this amount but it now costs you more? I agree with what you're saying, but I worry that this mentality is what will cause our wait to be even further. Offense is coming, no doubt, but pitching is something we may need to revert more resources towards

  • In reply to RonJohn85:

    I agree with your sentiment. Like I told Mike above, we dont know what we dont know. But we do know whatever $ amount they place on Lester or whomever... they will not exceed it. based on whats happened in recent years with top FA's, someone who is (in their opinion anyways) within their window to compete, will overpay or outbid us.

    Once we are in our window, then sure. They'll sacrifice a little on future years to win now. But I have a hard time believing that time is now. This FO plays probabilities. And us riding a minimum of 3 rookies in our everyday line-up, at least one rookie in our SP rotation, and a couple more logging significant innings in our BP likely isn't "probable".

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Hope you are right Mike. I think the Theo connection will help.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think there are 3 suitors for Lester. Red Sox, Cubs, and Mariners. If he doesn't end up on one of those 3 I would be shocked.

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    In reply to NathanE:

    I don't think he'll return to Boston. Mariners might have the money and could use him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Now that is a plan that works without losing talent. :)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Sorry, but I fully expect the Tigers to extend/re-sign Price before he hits FA.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    It's very possible. They'll at least make him an offer. Our hope is that the lure of winning a title in Chicago -- which he's already admitted intrigues him -- and hooking up with Derek Johnson again proves to be decisive.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's been suggested they'll be in on Price (perhaps even try to extend him this offseason) and not worry about Scherzer leaving.

  • I totally agree that once this FO shows that they are making moves to win in the near future, FA's will WANT to come to Chicago.

  • The Nats did this sort of move several years back when the overpayed for Jayson Werth slightly before they had completely gelled as a playoff contender.

    You can argue whether Werth was 'worth' his salary the year or two he was first hired - but the fact that the Nats front office was willing to make that bold move set a bit of a fire under that team at the time.

    The weak spot of the Nats at the time was their offense - their pitching was a strength. We see the Cubs in kind of the opposite of this problems, with starting pitching being the weakest link.

    Obviously - it doesn't look like the Cubs are going to require a high-end offensive guy come 2016 if things fall into place. But a high end SP like Lester, or Schertzer, or something like that (not personally as sold on Masterson) brought in would both fill a hole, and squelch some of the claims that the Cubs are 'cheap'.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Scherzer's velocity is dropping year to year. He is still a stud, but I would not sign him for the money he is asking with the decrease in velocity.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    Hes already turned down 6/144 from Destroyed. He wants Tanaka or Kershaw $. If thats what he wants, let him go somewhere else.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Good luck with that, max. The guy has only one CG. Kershaw has 5 this year. He's good, but he's not top 5.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    What do you think about Shark?

  • In reply to John57:

    No way

  • In reply to John57:

    I remain a fan of Shark - when he was on he could be fairly awesome - and especially earlier this season when it appeared he had finally started to get the idea that 'thowing hard' and 'pitching well' were not one in the same - he was fun to watch.

    I wish him a long and productive career - preferably over in the AL - but I don't think he's a guy you target as a FA after next season. And he's not likely to be available until then unless the A's start trying to shed salary this time next season.

    I think that ship has sailed.

  • One could argue that the fact that those guys were traded actually adversely impacts the Cubs' situation. Since we should have a protected pick, all those other teams would have to be willing to give their #1 pick up to sign Lester. Now A) A bunch of teams will be more interested because they wont have to give up their top pick and B) Lester will cost more since there are more bidders. The ideal situation is that Lester stayed with the Sox and we would only lose our 2nd round pick. That is a much more enviable situation that keeping our pick and paying an extra $10-20M because there were more bidders with less to 'lose' (i.e. 1st round pick).

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    I agree 100% but I still see them going big twice. I think going after Lester's a no brainer and there odds are very good because of the Boston relationship. But I still see them going after a number 2 as well. Weather its Masterson or Sheilds (who I love but he's older) or even a Edinson Volquez?? I just smell a splash this year John. They said they owed us last year after they failed on Tanaka. Soriano's off the books now. They will have the money and to me those 2 moves make us a wild card contender next year with the kids coming up in April....

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    That's if the kids can perform. I think they will, but Baez will most likely continue his trend of struggling to adjust to a new league. I think Soler and Bryant will be fine based on their overall approach to hitting.

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    In reply to JLynch2247:

    Agree with you but I think he comes out strong in the 1st few weeks then he slumps. After the all star break Baez should be on fire. Love that Bryant and Soler will be here. Cant wait....

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    Baez been better with big bats around him. If he's sandwiched between rizzo and bryant, I think he will struggle less.

  • In reply to Ralph Larosa:

    I like Shields over Masterson, just on a relative short-term contract. Big game pitcher, coming over to the NL likely would improve his numbers.

  • John, I love your work and read Cubs Den daily. However, I don't really want to see the Cubs give $100 million contracts to anyone, especially a pitcher. Signing star free agents never seems to work out well for anyone except the guy receiving the money.

    For instance, let's say the Cubs sign Lester for 6 years and $132 millon. Within 2 years of signing that deal it could very realistically look far worse than the Edwin Jackson contract looks today.

    I believe that the Cubs may be far better off to continue to operate as they have with shrewd trades and mid-level free agent signings like Hammel, Feldman and Maholm.

    The day may indeed come when they need an ace level pitcher or two to get them through the playoffs and have to make the types of trades that Billy Beane and Dave Dombrowski made yesterday in order to do so. I just don't agree that spending something like 25% of your payroll on one guy right now makes a whole lot of sense - especially if there's a reasonable chance that one guy may not even be a league average contributor by the end of the contract.

  • In reply to stephenwdavis:

    I agree... Theo is on record as saying that payroll flexibility is one of the best assets we can have. I don't see him shooting his wad prematurely. Not saying they wont go big. But the likes of Lester, etc are likely to draw significant overpays from teams that think they are in their window of contention.

    A swing and a miss on a 30yo SP $150MM+ contract could ruin that flexibility in 2017 when we ARE in our window...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    But payroll flexibility is only an asset if it is actually used.

    Talent wins baseball games. Wins yield flags. Flags fly forever.

    Payroll flexibility is an asset only in the sense that it can be used to convert such flexibility into talent. Folks often miss this when discussing cap space in the NFL, NBA, and NHL. Having $20M in cap space does nothing to win any games. $20M in cap space can be converted into Dwight Howard and yield lots of wins; it can also be converted into Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva and yield lots of angst.

    I understand the frustration folks have looking at the Phillies and seeing a team completely handcuffed by the unforgiveable nightmare deal they gave to Ryan Howard and the massive amounts owed to Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Nobody wants to be in that spot.

    But if you gave me three options of how to spend $25M and they were:

    (1) Hamels,
    (2) Jason Vargas, Carlos Villanueva, and Edwin Jackson, or
    (3) Nobody.

    I'm choosing Hamels every time. There's a ton of risk that it blows up. I get that. But your odds of acquiring additional wins with Hamels are significantly greater than they are with Dallas Beeler or Chris Rusin (Option 3) or the mediocre mollies (Option 2).

  • In reply to stephenwdavis:

    Considering they only have a $40 mil payroll for 2015, they could sign Lester to a 6/$132, front load it, and still have a $70 mil payroll next year.

  • I think we will have to overpay for pitching this off season cause of competition for them. 1 thing that will help is there are plenty of good arms available. I think shield is a interesting arm to look at. The Red Sox will be in on the pitching war and as we know so will the yanks. But I am worried the Red Sox will very aggressive cause the got rid of 4 arms.
    Most of the pitchers will want there last big $$$ contract. So it will b fun to watch.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    WTNY... Just remember... that $30 million is pre-arb. 5 Cubs will be 1st year arb eligible, 11 total. That number could easily go up by half... which still leaves a bundle of money that could be spent.

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    In reply to MoneyBoy:

    None of those 5 will be getting significant money.

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    According to BP, the Cubs are committed to about $31.2 million in players salaries next season. That amount is also about $41.6 million below LEAGUE AVERAGE. So we could go out and spend the $41.6 million just to average what everyone else is paying. That type of # is just staggering!

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/?team=CHN

    So I believe in theory we could outspend the Yankees who always seem to be in on a player like Lester. But the Yankees have a lot of holes to fill so even they have a # they wouldn't go over, imo.

    The big question is, will the Cubs go over a # they they think is fair market value for Lester and more importantly, we willing to shell out the years for a pitcher that will be on the wrong side of 30. I think they will. Lester is a special case in that he is a work horse as well as being that TOR pitcher.

    I also doubt we can get anyone to bite on Edwin Jackson. He will clear waivers, imo. I see him moving to the pen next year. It's just a lost expense. He may be able to give us a few innings as the swing man but I think it would be better if we just release him and call it a mistake.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    If we can't get anyone to take EJax, I think the only solution is to release him. It is a sunk cost and move on. The bullpen isn't a solution. He generally gives up runs in the first inning (who am I trying to kid -- he gives up runs every inning....).

  • In reply to Chris P:

    He cant pitch from the stretch. He can cruising along just fine and then as soon as they get a base runner, the wheels come off and next thing you know, he's let them tag him for 3-5 runs...

    That's not the make-up of someone I want coming into a close game or likely inheriting base-runners.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Good point - hadn't thought of the problem that way.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    JD has remarked on several occasions about his inability to close out an inning. Too often the worst damage is done with 2 outs.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If the stretch is such a problem, as it was the case for Maddux, also, just ignore the runner and pitch with the wind-up, worst case the runner ends up on third , you still need a hit most likely to drive him in, or change his delivery the way Arrietta did, he pitches from his wind-up and it looks like the stretch!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Wait until there is an injury to a key pitcher on a top team, then put him on the wire, and you might get a bite either from that team or someone trying to keep them from getting any help. Maybe a long shot but it would make me smile.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Remember trhis on EJax-hes given up 19 first inning runs this year in 22 starts. He struggles early on a regular basis.

  • I would say that the current CBA has skewed the market for FA pitchers to the point where the phrase "overpay" should be put to rest.

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    I think you also need to factor in the wrigley renovations as a settling point as well. More revenue from that and a new tv deal in the future to go with everything stated above and it may suddenly make the cubs one of the most attractive teams to sign with in free agency.

  • One thing that scares me about Lester is he is likely to go deep into the playoffs two years in a row. What did he pitch last year, something like 260 innings? I am kind of rooting for the A's but if the Cubs do sign Lester I hope they get knocked out early.

  • I have to be with HoosierDaddy on this one- it is going to be a little to early and expensive for Lester right now. My guess is his contract goes for 5/$130 or 6/$160 and would be more appropriate for a team that is projected to win 85-88 games and needs those extra 3-4 wins to get them over the hump.

    Looking at the latest Fangraphs pitching rankings the Cubs SP are still ranked in the top three while the relief core has shot way up to #11 in the majors. My guess is that the FO wants to evaluate how new acquisitions and promoted guys like Wada, Hendricks, Straily, and Doubront fit in. Unless something drastic happens Arrieta is looking like an ace. Many folks will be chomping at the bit for the Cubs to snag Lester or Masterson this off-season but I do not believe that will happen... it will be more reclamation projects that Bosio can work his magic with. Just my .02

  • Lester is a very tough call. I like him and he has obviously been very good in his career but he will be turning 31 in January so if he wants any more than a 5 year deal I think I would pass. I understand we'll need to sign our "Werth" at some point and it will likely be a pitcher the way our current team and farm system is built but giving that kind of $ to a 31 year old pitcher makes me nervous as his performance could trend downhill pretty quickly.

    I know this very rarely occurs but I would be more on board with a Lester signing if the contract could be front-loaded. We'd have a ton of payroll flexibility in the first two years of a deal with our cost-controlled offense. Lower salaries in the later years of the deal would make it much easier to swallow a decrease in performance or make him trade-able. Unlikely but a thought.

    On a separate note, Castro really had a rough July. Slash line of .221/.291/.260 with only 4 extra base hits (No HRs). As a caveat I've always liked him and have never had any inclination that he be traded (and still don't). Obviously players go through slumps and while I haven't seen every game he just hasn't passed the eye test for me recently - looks like a different hitter. He seems to be swinging at a lot of pitcher's pitches, trying to pull everything, coming out of his shoes because he is swinging too hard, etc. Has anyone else noticed this or have any minor concerns? Maybe he finally needs a day off.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Agree with you on Lester, Eric. He'll pitch next year as a 31 y/o. I'm not sure I go much beyond 4 years. And with the FO.'s stated goal of managing money and risk, I'm not sure that flies if I'm Lester and/or his agent. Maybe 4 and a club option.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Eric....what Castro needs a couple days off, and give Dale Sveum a call for his opinion on Starlin's approach at the plate. Then voluntarily take a demotion to Iowa to practice Sveum's advice. (j/k)

    In regard to Lester, 6/132 contract is fine, but I agree with you on a front-loaded contract. Maybe $28M each of the first two years, then 26M, 24M, and finish off with $18M each if the last two years. Who knows, in 5-6 years from now, $18M might be the going rate for a 10-12 game winner with a 4.00-4.50 ERA.

  • Anyone else think the cubs should front load a contract to Lester. Then try to make a run at Masterson or maybe even see if the Cardinals would give us lackey for a mid tier prospect? Something to give us some stability at the back end of our rotation. Then we wait for the kids to slowly come up in waves. Then go after another TOR starter via trade next off season or 2016 deadline.

  • In reply to Jpandocchi94:

    Just mentioned the front-loading option right above you. Makes a lot of sense to me but you rarely see that happen.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Maybe somehow theo can convince him to be the person to build around.

  • In reply to Jpandocchi94:

    I have also thought about and am on-board with a front-loaded deal. I don't understand why those types on contracts aren't more common in baeeball.

  • In reply to Jpandocchi94:

    Ya know, Lackey has a clause that said if he missed time with an arm injury, the value of his contract in 2015 would be the major league minimum. It's been hinted at that Lackey would retire if that came into play.

    Might it make sense to trade with the River Scum and give Lester a 1 yr deal with a club option?? A 'bridge' of sorts until our farm system and the FA market get set for 2016.

  • A front loaded contract makes great sense for both the Cubs and Lester.

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    "The question shifts from whether the Cubs can afford to sign a free agent or trade for a veteran to whether they can afford not to."

    Right question; I think the FO knows the right answer!

  • Which of our veterans are FA after this season. If we don't sign
    them then more money will be available. Don't sign pitchers
    over 31 to more than a 3 yr contract

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ah4PW47PiAi-dDlFeEJUS3YxRXhpQjJ3VHBkb3czMHc&output=html

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    Great article and well put, John.

    I agree on all points and have stated similar points.

    Lester, possibly Masterson, and a reclamation guy like Hochevar could make 2015 crazy interesting.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Hochevar is a BP guy now. Doesnt have the durability to start.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to mutant beast:

    He spent one year in the BP, IINM.

    He's coming off TJS. His durability (post rehab) should be as good as its ever been.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    True, Giff. But Hochaever stunk when he was in the rotation and was dominant as a 7th/8th inning guy, just like Wade Davis has been for KC this year.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    No doubt. But Bosio is MAGIC.

    Hence why I'm saying he's reclamation. There won't be a high demand for his services and he can be a low risk/ high reward type.
    If 2015 goes poorly, we can flip him (but I'd strongly prefer to be in the position to hold on)

  • No team is going to claim Jackson on waivers. There is a negative percent chance of that happening.

    Lester and Masterson are two of the pitchers I have little interest in this offseason. Lester because he will get 5-8 year contract (Don't care about the money, I just don't want any pitcher on that long of a term) and Masterson because his value is really in a one year make good contract as a flip candidate and I really don't want to go down that road again.

    If Lester or Scherzer are willing to sign a 4 year 100M type deal than fine. I'll pay a higher annual rate rather than give the extra years. Just don't see either guy accepting that type of deal. I don't want to be stuck with an injured or underperforming Jon Lester 5-7 years from now when we are in the middle of our young hitter's prime seasons.

    I'd rather go after the mid rotation guys that will take a 2-4 year deal. Sure you end up with a stinker like EJax every once in a while, but the length doesn't kill you for years, unlike a Barry Zito deal for instance. This is the way I look at a 4 year deal for a FA SP: You'll get 1 year where the guy pitches like you hope,1 year that he is still effective but slightly below what you hope, 1 year lost to injury and 1 year of below average performance.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to mjvz:

    "If Lester or Scherzer are willing to sign a 4 year 100M type deal than fine. I'll pay a higher annual rate rather than give the extra years."

    I agree with you on that. I thinks it's goofy to sign pitchers for more than 4 seasons. I would rather pay more for 4 years instead of signing them to 6 - 8 year deals.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    I guess I should specify I do mean overpay in terms of AAV but not years.

  • See if the Cards give us Lackey for a mid tier prospect? We'll sooner see world peace.

  • For everyone worrying about going against the Yankees in a bidding war, maybe we should be wishing for Arod to come back to NY so his salary has to be paid. I know that goes against what the "right" thing to wish for, but I don't mind the Yankees having to deal deal with the issue and it may limit their spending.
    If hardly anyone on this blog would take EJax at this time, why would another team? I think most likely he is ours (bullpen?) or we eat his salary. Try him in long relief and maybe he has some value.

  • I agree and think Russell Martin makes a nice target as does Andrew Miller to go with the SP. Not much by way of OF this winter, so hopefully Soler is healthy and ready.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TheMightyGin:

    I like Martin on 3 years. Pry some young pitching away for Castillo. Go as far as possible but not over the line for any of Lester, Shields, Masterson, Scherzer. See how things pan out then around the trade deadline you could always add. Brett Anderson on a 2 year contract if the Rox don't pick up the option. Heck maybe even bring Hammel back on a one-year deal.

  • Interesting to see which prospects are sent to the Fall league
    (In October?) and Winter ball

  • I know its the Yanks but they also add 30 million back to their payroll next year with Arod. I think they will only be in on one top level pitcher. Good for us

  • In reply to Bigstevo4000:

    They also need to fill a couple slots. They can't commit to so many years in pitching and unless they release some pitchers they probably don't have the roster space.

  • Is it a crazy idea to put in a waiver claim for Cole Hamels if PHI puts him out there? 4 years and $90 is no small investment for a 30-year old. But, it would pale in comparison to what he'd get as a FA. I have no idea the expectation the Phillies would expect in terms of prospects/MLB talent going back. Amaro Jr. is an enigma and I have a hard time believing the report that he asked the Dodgers for all three of Urias, Pederson and Seager. But, it might be one way to accelerate the rebuild if Amaro realizes he's lost it after seeing what TB got for Price.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Da Ivy:

    I would put a claim out. If the Cubs claim him during the waiver period, Amaro would only be able to negotiate with us, basically, and the leverage he would have would be pulling Hamels back. I feel like given Amaro's demands, those discussions would go nowhere, and he would stay with the Phillies. All we would do is block a deal somewhere else that probably also won't happen given Amaro's unreasonable demands

  • Cubs will get Lester because they have to. They will overpay.

    In my mind, this is already done. Start contending next year. Start dominating in 2016. Never stop.

  • Going after Lester is the easy call.

    But you know the Yankees are going to be in on him for all the same reasons. They need pitching. He'll be cheaper than Scherzer without the comp pick attached to he's attractive to them as well. They're willing to spend too.

  • I think Lester would be real nice if we don't overpay too much. I thought we didn't believe in these kinds of contracts for players over 30. I hate to see a change in approach so drastic unless 1. We really are contending, or 2. We know something about Lester to make us think he may age well? I think I'd rather trade from our surplus once the roster is set for a push. Better to get someone's stud young arm and save the FA overpay for later unless of course, 1 or 2 above.

  • The best thing that's happened to the owners in the last five years (aside from the fact that the values of their properties have skyrocketed) is that somehow, many people have become convinced that to be a "smart fan," you have to want your favorite team to spend as little as possible.

  • I agree the Cubs need to make a splash and send a message to the fans/other teams/FAs that we are through being losers and moving on to bigger and better things. A TOR SP is clearly a requirement after their trades, but a corner OF (left fielder, most likely) with power and catcher (depending on your view of Beef as a long term solution) may also be target. Much like the Nats with Werth, I think they will need to overpay.

  • I have my doubts about Lester going to the cubs.....if 4/90 would have done it, Lester would have resigned with Boston (Boston would not sign him for a reason)..... it just seems the FO is not going to go to 7-8 years unless the player is in the 25-28 year range (hence all the offseason focus on Tanaka)

  • I believe Lester will get a contract somewhere between sanchez and Greinke. He won't get more than 6 years and more likely a 5 yr deal for being 31 his first yr. He will be probably need 5 years and 20 to 24 million per yr. Also I expect scherzer to be about the same range.

  • I don't know if anyone mentioned it but don't underestimate the power of going home.

    Seattle has shown they are willing to dish out big bucks.

    He already has won two WS, the lure of going home and also getting paid handsomely is no small appeal.

    Putting him in a rotation with Hernandez and Walker also sets them up to win. Oakland gutted their farm and they won't be able to play like this for long. Seattle may reign (pun intended) on top of the West with Lester. Very attractive destination for him.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Seattle is one of the bigger threats for all those reasons. And they are obviously willing to go above and beyond what most people would consider sane.

  • Here is a thought that hasn't been discussed on the board.....how about getting Aroldis Chapman in free agency and convert him into a starter.....he's the right age, electric arm, not too many miles, and Cincy has stretched him out before (only to back out because of Cinci's SP depth).....you can make a claim that spending money on him to be a starter would be just as prudent as the money the Cubs were willing to throw to Tanaka last offseason

  • In reply to NIKOMAN:

    Cincy tried that a couple years ago and the experiment failed. I don't think that would work.

  • AMEN John. Completely agree.

    No FO including this one exists in a vacuum independent of the business side of the equation. Unlimited patience is not a commodity they get to exhaust.

    Assuming this FO even wanted to take its time and give away 2015 (And I agree with those who say there's plenty of evidence to show they want to do just the opposite and compete NEXT year), the business side has major issues to deal with and will be heard. They're dealing with declining attendance, TV ratings, and will have a whole bunch of in-stadium advertising that has to be sold next year. Oh and they also happen to begin a $500M renovation project in earnest.

    There's no way the Cubs can afford to start slow in 2015 and at least not compete all year long. I expect them to do just that, be competitive and narrowly miss a playoff spot. With the guys they have and will have on next year's roster, and a couple of key FA signings, that's really not that big of an Ask.

    Both sides have to work together synergistically if The Plan is ever going to come to fruition. I think 2015 is the year when the FO and business sides start to get aligned pretty closely.

    HackWilson09 put it best, "Start contending next year. Start dominating in 2016. Never stop." Onwards.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    Thanks, I think it's reality and the FO just has to use that in a way that it works best for the org.

    I think the Cubs always felt that they'd have to spend eventually. I am not saying they should spend every year now and get a major FA, but I think they should pick and choose their spots and this offseason is one of those times.

  • Love it, John. Agree 100%. The bottom line is that the rebuild foundation finally has been set and starting this winter we will be seeing the focus shift from acquiring minor league prospects to acquiring one or more big-time major league assets, coupled with bring up our three of our top four prospects. After three years of misery, this FO has:

    1. Acquired and/or developed an amazing array of young cost controlled talent that will blossom at the MLB level next spring;

    2. Maneuvered into the most payroll flexibility on baseball with a huge ceiling to spend. Cubs can actually add two stud players at $25M per year and still be well below $90M in total payroll. Not saying they will, but it demonstrates the degree of that flexibility.

    We don't know what they will actually do this winter, but I am very optimistic that they will do something big for next year and I am 100% confident that, whatever they do, the focus to actually start winning finally begins with the 2015. And Hallelujah that!

  • Happy to hear you say it, John. The pitching side of the equation seems to me to be too far behind the hitting to let the process play out. They're going to be forced to overpay for a couple of free agents/trade acquisitions (at least one this offseason). I'd rather see an overpay in terms of money at this point rather than prospects (which would make no sense IMO). Get our 1-2-3 set up and then let Hendricks, Wood, etc. fight it out for the 4-5 spots and then let the process take its course on the pitching side.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    I think part of it is coming to terms that there really isn't a pitcher that can lead the rotation other than Arrieta. Edwards, Johnson, etc. all looking like 3's and probably 4s right now. That's okay, you fill up those spots with cheap guys and that saves you money to get the TOR.

  • Our Cubs begin there stretch drive for the first draft choice in the 2015 Amateur draft and call up Chris Valaika from Iowa. Valaika has been on a hot streak of late. Five hits in his last thirty one trips.

  • Our Cubs begin their stretch drive for the 2015 first draft choice in the Amateur Draft. They call up Chris Valaika from Iowa, where he has been on a hot streak? Five hits in his last thirty one trips.

  • Sorry posting confusion

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    On the other hand, sometimes a guy just comes out of nowhere like Arrietta or Andrew Shaw of the Blackhawks. It isn't always predictable. There are a lot of mid and low round picks that suddenly click on and become solid pros. Look at some of our guys in the bullpen, like Strop, Rondon and Ramirez. If we could get a couple of those, maybe one of who develops like Arrieta and you may only need one more guy, especially if Hendricks and Wood are fairly solid.

  • any chance cubs pickup somebody in the DFA-storm of the next couple of days?

  • Legitimate Question:

    How many pitchers in baseball would you trade Arrieta straight up for?

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    In reply to NathanE:

    Not many. Not that there aren't several that are arguably better, but I see Arrieta as less of an injury risk than most power pitchers. His delivery is pretty smooth and his velocity is pretty effortless. He's definitely not a "max-effort" guy like some others. He's also getting more efficient. I don't know what he finished with yesterday, but thru 6 innings, he had only thrown 69 pitches.

  • If someone is dumb enough to claim Alex Rios and his massive contract someone will take a chance on Jackson

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    I'd be happy if Theo and Jed could find a taker for Jackson and take on even half of his remaining contract. There are enough options in the upper levels of the system to fill a #5 spot, and let's face it, that's what Jackson is. I was against the Jackson signing from the time his name came up, and sick to my stomach when I heard they had signed him and announced the specifics of his new contract.

  • I don't understand the concern about dollars. Just 3 or 4 years ago, the Cubs had a $140MM payroll. Next year, it might not clear 40 as things currently stand. This FO can EASILY overpay for TWO free agent pitchers and the budget would hardly blink. No team in baseball has the $$ freedom that the Cubs have right now, not even the Yankees or Dodgers.

    Two FA pitchers, plus current players, with Soler, Bryant, Baez and Mendy all in the opening day lineup next April. I'd wager that's a wild-card caliber team right out of the gate.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I totally agree. I'm all for the rebuild and the plan of competing year in and year out, but this is a major market team with a payroll that is dropping. I'm not saying it has to be Lester, though he is a proven post season pitcher with ties to the FO. But I won't blink if they have to go six years to get a proven TOR guy, even if he is 30 years old. I like the sound of Lester and Arrieta heading the rotation. The Cubs have positioned themselves to be able to take a financial risk of this nature with all the young talent they have in place and on the immediate horizon. We don't know for sure which year will be "the year", and it could come sooner than many think.

  • I realize I'm going against the flow of this comment thread, but I love the idea of signing Russell Martin. Still like some of Beef's game, but Martin's great approach at the plate and tremendous ability at game calling/pitcher management would be so ideal for the team. Like many have said about the additional, intangible value of having Lester, I see the same in Martin.

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    The question is whether the Cubs' new FO feels that they have to overpay for pitching and if they're willing to.

  • I'm new to this chat stuff...so feel free to call me an idiot.

    In the next couple years when the Cubs open the wallet and start spending...with TV contracts and Wrigley renovations completed, do you see their payroll potentially in the 175-200mil range or is that out of the question? Taking into account the money that has been "vaulted" from player budget the last few years.

  • In reply to Marley29:

    I think the FO did not spend all the payroll money this year because of not getting Tanaka. But they said in preceding years they had spent their whole payroll budget. Don't expect much money to be in the "vault".

  • In reply to John57:

    Fair enough...I guess where I was heading with my question...the Cubs have all these young potential studs...by 2016 they COULD have Rizzo 1B Baez 2B Russell SS Castro 3B Bryant LF Almora CF Soler RF Alcantara utility...all under team control for the next 3-4 years. I realize the odds of them all staying healthy/reaching their potential at the major league level is unlikely but let's dream a little. Say they get Lester for 5 years at 25 mil in 2015....Price and Zimmerman in 2016 say 25mil each 5-6 years that's 75mil on 3 pitchers for next 5 years that gives you a rotation of Lester Price Zimmermann Arrieta and plug in Hendricks Edwards Black Beeler or maybe even Wood at 5. After you pay those 3 75mil if you have a payroll around 200mil that leaves an avg of around 5.4 mil per player for your remaining 22. They all won't come close to that avg so some get more some get less...about the time you need to pony up for some of your position players Lester comes off the books Price and Zimmerman in the next year or two come off and hopefully in that 5 year time frame the team has drafted/developed some young quality pitching of their own to replace them. So early on with the young hitters you try and out pitch teams while they grow into major league hitters and then flip the script. Easy for me to spend someone else's money though I guess.

  • In reply to Marley29:

    I said years ago, that when the Cubs win the WS, it will give Ricketts a license to print money.

    Wrigley will be packed, every game. Merchandise sales through the roof. If the TV deals break right in timing with the winning, loads of cash.

    To answer your question, I totally can see the Cubs' payroll as large as possible without incurring significant penalties.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    That is a good point. The cubs TV deal is up in 2019 IIRC. If we are coming off a couple of playoff appearances or a WS title, the price for the rights might break the sports economy.

  • Per Cots, 2015 payroll:

    Jackson (11), Castro (6), Rizzo (5), Sweeney (1.5), Soler (2), Fujikawa (5.5 or .5 buyout)....that's $26M figuring b/o on Fujikawa

    Then there are some who figure to return but don't have committed dollars for 2015 as of yet. Here's what they made this year: Wood (3.9), Arrieta (.5445), Wright (1.425), Valbuena (1.7), Ruggiano (2), Strop (1.325), Castillo (.53), Rondon (.514), Grimm (.5055), Doubrant (.586), Straily (.505), Lake (.5025), Olt (.502), same for Ramirez, Alcantara, Hendricks, Beeler, Parker, Rosscup, Rusin, Schlitter, etc (all around major league minimum)

    Even with arbitration raises, that's not much of a payroll for a MLB club, especially one in Chicago. There should be more than enough money to throw at Lester, another #2-3 SP, Russell Martin, and short term upgrades at RF/LF/2B/3B if deemed necessary.

  • You are so spot on John! I was jacked when I saw both Lester and Masterson got traded. Now, neither will cost the Cubs a pick to sign.

    I want Lester.

    Does anyone think the A's have the cash to keep him?

    I would trade Wood in the winter and keep Jackson. Wood has the potential of good return and Jackson has the potential to rebound to be tradable. The Cubs need to open one more spot.

    Lester, Arrietta, project, Hendricks, and Jackson will work. We have a player to flip, a (nearly) expiring contract and all that talent in the minors one year closer.

    Over pay for Lester, trade Wood and sign a prime rebound prospect. Oh, and we need a utility IFer for a couple months.

  • It's a no brainer putting Jackson through waivers. Every team usually tries to put every player on its roster on waivers just to see who goes through. Doubt he'll get any takers, but it's SOP.

    I like the Russel Martin idea or Suzuki at catcher. Creating a quality veteran core will be important to balance and mentor all the youngsters coming up.

    I also agree going hard after Lester and Scherzer. Both will be very expensive, but as the Takada bid and posting offer shows, this FO is willing to go after quality arms. Lester will be extra expensive because he has no compensation attached to him. And Scherzer has already turned down a reported $24M per year from the Tigers. But as noted above, getting one of them signals to the league that the Cubs have truly turned from sellers to buyers in deed and not just word. And if they trade for another TOR pitcher using their prospect bounty, that will anchor their staff for some time. Then come next trade deadline, they could potentially use an Arrieta or hopefully a rebounded Travis Wood to acquire another quality major leaguer, a la what the Red Sox did in getting Cespedes.

  • I think the Yankees will come hard after Lester and pay the luxury cap if needed. The Yanks are old and need to retool because their fans are use to seeing them in the playoffs and management will respond. With Jeter leaving the Yankees will look for other stars to fill their roster as they have done for years. Lester like Samardzija went from last to first for a chance to be in the playoffs now, not 5 years from now. Samardzija was grinning ear to ear after being traded to a team that is probably going to make the playoffs. I will be amazed if any of the Number 1 pitchers available this winter would sign with the Cubs. I totally agree the Cubs need pitching and they also need to become much better defensively.

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