Cubs looking to add pitchers...could it start with Samardzija?

Cubs looking to add pitchers...could it start with Samardzija?

The key to that title is the word in plural.

It may be an old baseball cliche -- not something you often hear from the Cubs colorful skipper, but it fits. It is also worth noting that he is on the same page as this front office, who have often said they want to build an "8 or 9 man rotation". In other words, the Cubs want depth -- not just in their rotation, but in the 40 man roster as well.

That means having MLB ready pitching at the upper levels But it isn't good enough to just have depth for the sake of depth. The Cubs want pitchers who can make an impact when their turn comes. Pierce Johnson showed that capability yesterday with good stuff once again: 91-93 mph FB, t94 and a power CB that he can either bury under a hitters hand or drop it on the outside corner -- when he has command. And that will be the key for Johnson going forward. The change-up is much improved and looks like an average MLB pitch, which is more than enough considering the quality of his first top two offerings. He also has a solid cutter he goes to when he needs to draw weak contact. Rob Zastryzny has also looked good -- particularly with an improved curve ball that looks like it could be an average MLB pitch. If he can add that to his good change-up and solid average FB, that makes him a potential back-end starter at the MLB level if he can refine his command and keep the ball down in the zone

But the Cubs seem to want to attack pitching as they always have...with numbers.  And it has worked.  It's easy to forget that the Cubs starting pitchers led the majors in WAR and FIP (3.26)  -- and that they had the Cy Young winner at the top of the rotation in Jake Arrieta.  Teamed with Jon Lester, they had two of MLB's top starters and one of two teams to have two starters with 5 WAR or higher.  The Dodgers, of course, were the other.  If you count Kyle Hendricks, they were the only team to have three pitchers with 180 innings and finish in the top 20 in FIP.

Objectively, it is tough to make the case that the Cubs absolutely need to spend $200M for an ace.  What they need is depth to go with those three pitchers.  They could use as many as two good starters -- perhaps a mid-rotation type.  They need more quality innings out of their rotation other than those 3.  And they need the capability to more easily replace those pitchers if anything should happen.   That means it's not just depth.  It's depth capable of making an impact when their number is called.

Of course, Maddon didn't go into detail.  I suppose some will read into it as the Cubs wanting to sign Price or Greinke.  The words "top-notch pitching" will add fuel to that kind of speculation. What I take out of this is that the Cubs want quality depth up and down their rotation and at the upper levels of their system.

Over the years, the Cardinals have been able to withstand injuries to Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, but they didn't do it by having a David Price waiting in the wings ready to be the new ace.  They've done it with young arms like Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, and Marco Gonzales. The Cubs don't have those kinds of top-notch prospects at the upper levels.

Tbe Cardinals have also had solid rotations from top to bottom.  We've seen other teams like the Dodgers, Tigers, and Nationals be stronger up top, but weaker in the middle, back end, and especially in those 6,7, 8, and 9 spots in the rotation.  They have not fared as well as far as the postseason and/or consistent regular season success over the long term.

I believe that the Cardinals are more the example of the kind of staff the Cubs will try to mimic this offseason, though the Cubs should remain stronger at the top.  Not surprisingly, the Cardinals give themselves a chance every year by being in the playoffs and part of that is because they don't put all their chips in one basket.

This is not to say the Cubs won't sign Price or Greinke, but if they want depth, allocating those resources into just one pitcher makes it difficult.  I do think the Cubs will get one impact pitcher to the rotation, possibly via free agency. If not an elite pitcher than maybe Jordan Zimmermann...maybe Mike Leake...maybe even Jeff Samardzija.   This is an interesting bit of information...

Samardzija makes sense.  He has the combination of power and control the Cubs like.  They like his makeup, competitive nature, and presence in the clubhouse.  There is familiarity on both sides. Samardzija certainly knows the city and its fan base.  All of that makes for an easier transition.

There is also a smaller injury risk based on Samardzija's history, low mileage, and simply because he is a big, strong pitcher with clean mechanics.

Samardzija irked some fans because of his insistence on testing the market -- but another pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, did the same exact thing with  much  less fanfare, at least in Chicago.  Cubs fans don't seem to have a problem with signing him.

And then I think they will build on that by trading some of their position player depth for a rotation piece and/or depth.  They could also sign pitchers like Doug Fister or Justin Masterson for maybe a Chris Young type role.  Another option is to trade for young, cost-controlled impact pitching -- which would probably be the Cubs preference, but the prospect cost may prove prohibitive.  Remember that the Cubs value their position player depth and flexibility as well.  It may be more efficient to take on good upper level pitching prospects as depth rather than proven MLB starters with significant cost control.

The key is balance.  If the Cubs can get someone like Price in a way  that leaves them some flexibility to add substantial, quality depth, then that becomes an option as well.  That is unlikely, but not impossible given Price's stated desire to play for the Cubs.  If that desire means he'll be willing to take a deal that works within the Cubs overarching plan, then they'd be foolish not to take advantage of that.  I'm skeptical that kind of scenario will play out, but  the Cubs owe it to themselves to at least find out...if they haven't done so already.

But when it comes to free agency, I think a pitcher like Samardzija or Mike Leake is more likely than a top tier pitcher -- then with a top 3 that is as good as any in baseball, not to mention a very good rotation from top the bottom, the Cubs can focus on adding the kind of depth they may need over the course of a long season.  The Cubs were lucky in the sense that their top 4 were healthy  enough to pitch all season.  That doesn't always happen (see 2004 Cubs).  The Cubs need to be ready for that more than they need to funnel all their resources into just one player.

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  • I'd love signing Shark for all those reasons. Plus, it improves the reputation of the franchise if a prime player on the open market wants to return to a team that traded him away.

    I'm interested in where you put the 6-9 starters if everyone is healthy. Is there additional value for bullpen swing guys? Could less capable starters end up taking priority in the rotation because they are high-paid veterans who demand a spot? Hammel is a puzzle if they sign two SP's

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    Those 6-9 I think are really just potential starters. I'm sure some will also be used in the pen as necessary. CJ for instance.

    I'm hoping for a couple of the Cuban FA pitchers at least one of which is near MLB ready. Yasiel Sierra(23), Vladamir Gutierrez(19), and Adrian Morejon(16) are the top guys as I read it. Sierra is the one MLB ready and the other two would fill in nicely across the farm system providing the depth Theo and Jed have been talking about.

    If signing shark instead of one of the TORs leaves them the resources they need to get that done I'd be ecstatic.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Agreed, Bilbo. If the Cubs want to have near major league ready pitching depth to have in AAA, then they have to get guys with options.

    One such player is Cuban IFA Yasiel Sierra. He's a 24 year old right-hander that throws mid-90s and has hit 98. He needs to work on his control (of course), but would come much more cheaply than other major league FAs. I trust the Cubs scouting staff. If they deem him worthy, estimates are he could sign a deal similar to Soler's but for a few less years.

    Other than Sierra and possibly a few other more advanced Cuban arms, the only way I see acquiring more impactful pitchers with options is via trade.

    Solar and Baez have been discussed often as names that could go. If they did, I would hope to package them with other prospects to get one pitcher to join the rotation and another AA or AAA prospect with options for impact depth purposes.

    Or they could keep Soler/Baez and look to trade hitting prospects for pitching prospects. Outside of Contreras and Almora (though for the right pitcher I'd trade them, too), the Cubs have several bats in the organization that would be attractive to other teams. Torres, McKinney, Happ, Dewees, Zagunis, Vogelbach (to an AL team) and Jimenez that could be dealt (even in conjunction with some of the Cubs younger arms that are further away) for AA or AAA arms that would provide that depth the Cubs are looking for.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I'd love it if the Cubs had the resources to sign younger Cubans like RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (19), OFers Jorge Ona and Yusniel Diaz (both 19) and 16-year-olds LHP Adrian Morejon and OF Lazarito Armenteros.

    Not all of them have achieved FA status yet, but adding guys like this would effectively replace any prospects the Cubs would trade for a top pitching prospect that is close to major league ready and would provide impact depth in AAA this season.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    For those who don't want to trade Baez for a younger MOR with upside, there's a top FA pitcher that no one ever mentions that would make a great #3 (heck, he's been a TOR his entire career just about) and can be signed without giving up a 1st round pick.

    If the medicals check out, why not sign Johnny Cueto? He'll be 30 in February (just 3 months older than Zimmerman) and is estimated to cost about the same as him. He's never had TJS, unlike Zimmerman, doesn't walk a lot of guys and has better stuff. He had injuries two years ago, but 3 of the last 4 seasons has pitched more than 200 innings.

    What's argument against Cueto?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Cueto was in my 6 pick in the free agent contest. He'd be great fun to have.

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    In reply to bzalisko:

    And if we sign him we basically acquired Addison Russell and Billy McKinney (and the part of Dexter Fowler that was Dan Strailley) for nothing.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Eh...not really. It cost the Cubs of Shark's services for the second half of their 2014 season and all of their 2015 season. Now 2014 didn't matter obviously, but given the Cubs lack of a 3rd starter in this year's playoffs, that's not nothing. Still well worth it, and I'd make that same trade 50 million more times if I could. But the Cubs did pay a cost, regardless of whether they resign him or not.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Not true. It would cost the Cubs a 1st rd the contract. Which is, of course better than had Shark just signed an extension and not gotten traded.

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    In reply to cubbie steve:

    Yes, but we would have had to sign that contract with him anyway, though the first round pick would be a cost.

    My point was that both the MLB pitchers we traded we got back within 2 seasons.

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    The Cardinals have shown the way for the past several years. Take their better minor league starting prospects and put them in the bull pen in the majors. If someone goes down in the rotation, you have someone that can be stretched out in a couple of weeks. In addition, you can have a swing man that can start or relieve as necessary, who can cover those couple weeks while the new rotation guy is being stretched out.

    Hopefully, (I am afraid that is not their plan) they will use Edwards in this way. Let him work out of the pen in one or two inning relief stints, and stretch him out when a vacancy opens up in the pen. And replace him in the pen by a Johnson or whoever might be close. Even Cahill if they can re-sign him. Or Richard in that role. Or both. Either one could work out of the pen or move into the rotation on a temporary basis.

    I think that this is what they mean by being 8 or 9 starters deep. Obviously, some have to work out of the pen or pitch in Iowa while waiting their chance. You can't do that with 9 TORs.

    I see that Bilbo 161 has beaten me to it, but I will post this anyway.

  • The 2004 Cubs pitching staff is an apt example of why depth is good. Any team that has to get 15-16 starts out of Glendon Rusch and another 8-9 out of Sergio Mitre with names like Prior and Wood riding the pines is going to be scrambling for quality innings.

    We can't expect the Cubs to maintain the level of health their SPs showed last year every year. Other than Hammel's hammy and not quite being the same pitcher to close out the season - the rotation was very, very, unusually healthy in 2015.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    Was it the 2004 team with Steve Trout that the whole starting staff went on the DL? I think so. It shows that we do need depth in pitching.
    Does anyone have a scouting report on Andury Acevedo? I can't see anything other than he was a converted infielder and had some control problems.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Trout only played for the Cubs in the 1980s Jonathan,..... might have been the 1985 Cubs,.... there were a bunch of guys on that roster that only started a few games - and even Trout missed more than a month as was one of the healthy guys that season.

    That 1985 season was a great disappointment after how well they played in 1984.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    thanks--I think you're right, it was the 1985 Cubs.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Yep, 1985. They picked up Ray Fotenot from the Yankees for middle relief, and he became their top starter for part of that season.

    Fair or not, my lasting image of Fotenot (remember there was little video during those days) is of him delivering a pitch, then jumping and whirling to watch a cannon shot sail out of the park.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I saw him a couple times last year in Charleston. Big boy out of the pen, righty. Only saw about two innings, but he threw very hard, consistent mid-90's, and yes, wild. I don't recall seeing any breaking stuff, but I could have missed it. That's all I've got. Sounds like a low-risk, high-reward project that would take at least another year.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    If I knew the Cubs were getting him, I would have paid more attention. Doh!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    1984 cubs.. Trout was traded to the Stankees in 1986 and bombed there, basically finishing his career. !985 Cubs entire starting staff ended on the DL at one point of the season, and no starter even reached double figures in wins, only Sutcliffe made more than 22 starts. Sanderson, Eckersley, Trout missed most of the season.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Trout pitched a couple of shutouts in a row and Mr. Steinbrenner got very excited. I remember thinking that it was a good move for the Cubs at the time, but I don't recall what the Cubs got in exchange.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    As stated below, in 1985 there was a point at which the entire expected starting staff were on the DL at the same time. Don't remember all of them, but I believe Sutcliffe, Eckersly, Sanderson and Ruthven were among them.

  • In reply to DaveP:


  • Good stuff John! I definitely agree that we should stay away from the top-tier free agent pitchers and their associated price tags and go after someone like Samardzija, Leake, or Zimmerman if their prices stay reasonable. I am in the camp that has no issue with bringing back Samardzija.
    As for trading for a TOR type, I'm leery of this. Something we haven't heard said lately - perhaps because the market has shifted a bit - but Theo and Jed said early on that they valued a top-talent everyday position player over a top-talent pitcher. Which meant to me, there is not equal value in trading one-for-one; the everyday position player is worth more. I'm sure Theo and Jed still think this way, however, we haven't heard this kind of statement from them recently.

  • In reply to Pepitone8:

    It undoubtedly gets down to how many shortstops the Cubs now have compared to that they need a minimum of 2 starters.

  • I hold no ill will toward Shark. He did what I likely would have done in his position. nothing wrong with having confidence in yourself or wanting to help out your fellow players by trying to raise market value in free agency.

    If we could get him on a four year deal I would be happy.

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    I am in violent agreement with the tone of this article. Yeah, I'd love to have the Cubs get Price or Grienke: if the price is right. I think it is possible the Cubs land one, but also doubt it will happen. Zimmerman might come a bit cheaper, but he could be pricey as well. I agree that Shark and Leake seem like good targets. I'm maybe add Lackey and Kazmir to those lists. Finally, I really liked what Maddon had to say about Soler being a key part of the team going forward, a player who he thinks will improve defensively, and who has 5-tool capabilities.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    What is the right price for Greinke or Price?
    Price is likely to get 7+ years and 200+ million
    Greinke is also likely to get 5+ years and 140+ million

    They aren't coming to Chicago on a discount

    Soler could be a key part as a trade chip

  • Here is Samardzija with Dan Patrick in 2014, and he sure sounds like a guy who'd be itching to come back to the Cubs in 2016:

    “I don’t want to be traded, I want to play my career in Chicago with the Cubs. I love being there. It’s the team that got me out of football, and I fell in love with them at that point.”

    Dan: “But eventually you get tired of losing, Jeff”

    “Without a doubt, you know and I’ve said that from the beginning. The only reason, you know, we’re at where we are now is because of that situation. If it’s a different situation and we’re winning and competing for the playoffs every year, I think a deal’s already done, and I’m there for a long time, but I want to win. I know how old I am. I know when prime years are. I know when everything starts changing, and I’m right there. I don’t enjoy rebuilding, and I think when you play in the highest level in your sport, every year should be devoted to winning that year, ‘cause you don’t know how long it’s going to last. You don’t know how many chances you’re going to get to feel this way and feel good and play. I want to win. That’s my number one goal. I don’t care about anything else but winning.”

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    Well if Jeff truly only cares about winning then he should come to the Cubs at Theo's price. The Cubs are going on a long winning streak.

  • In reply to John57:

    Give me what you did in 2013 Shark, and youll earn your pay. You already gave us Addison Russell and Billy McKinney. Come home, win 15-17 gammes, win several playoff and world series games. Dominate. Your playoff checks will look even better in Chicago.

  • In reply to John57:

    Everyone knows at this point it is about the money. Only rub is that Jeff is not worth as much as he thought he was 12 months ago. But there is no reason to give a hometown discount.

  • In reply to John57:

    It is possible to care about winning, and also care about money. Very few people do anything for only one motive.

  • At least Zimmermann has earned his asking price based on results... What irked me about Shark was demanding ace money when he's only had 1 truly good season as a starter.

  • In reply to Caps:

    That's true Caps! Now we'll see how Jeff really thinks - is he willing to recognize that he hasn't performed - year to year - like some of the other second tier pitchers he's being compared to let alone the Aces of the free agent class? Is he really just about winning and being in the right environment (as he says) whereby he'd be willing to give the Cubs a discount to rejoin the team? We'll see ....

  • In reply to Pepitone8:

    I'm not a fan of giving up a draft pick for him based on potential when he hasn't realized it yet... And that could make some teams shy away, further affecting his market... So he'll get to test how much he's really worth now.

    Now... If the Jose Fernandez rumors (about him being on the block) are real and the Cubs manage to send Baez, Castro or Soler in a package for him... Well, I can work around those feelings lol.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Fernandez was my 6 pointer in the contest. I hope Boras pisses off Samson more so he feels inclined to trade Fernandez.

    Maybe a big package and get Dee Gordon included? Almora to CF batting 9th for defense with Gordon at 2B and lead-off.

    Pipe dream, I know. LOL.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yea but it's a nice dream. :-)

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I've been banging the Dee Gordon drum too. He just fits this lineup and team.

    hard giving away outs at 7,8,9 with Ross Lester and Almora

  • In reply to WarningTrack:

    Almora would be no more of an out than Russell was this year. And I bet he would K about 1/3 as much.

    You would have to move Baez and Castro in that deal unless they wanted Torres thinking more into the future. For Fernandez and Gordon, I would give up a lot. Hendricks would probably have to be included too.

    That would be the only major trade I would be interested in making.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Cubs front office is not concerned about giving up a draft pick this offseason.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Not true. There's no such thing as not being concerned about burning a first. They're just more willing, but that's given the lower pick AND the value of the player obtained. But they won't just ignore that in consideration of one free agent vs another.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    They're getting the pick off Fowler, so unless they are complete pigs, it is close to a wash.

  • In reply to jack:

    Has nothing whatsoever to do with being "pigs." They'll make the best deal for the team. Whether a FA will cost a pick absolutely figures into his value

  • when I saw the tweet I realized that the cubs were both recruiting and and attempting to close or find a path to close a deal and that probably included a less conventional structure of $$. I think Epstein like any executive has a limited authorized budget more than before and less than speculated and is trying back end some the $$.

    the next thought was strategic in that an early signing of Samardzija removes the Cubs from the PR distraction of the ACE sweepstakes and might even save a few $$ while allowing the club to be secure in making a move that includes a current starter for a better one. Hendricks appears to be a player who would be valued by other clubs dealing a not as young starter.

    It is all interesting.

  • I have absolutely no interest in Mike Leake and don't particularly care for Smardzija either unless it is a one-year deal or a very obvious buy low. He was absolutely horrendous this year and if he didn't have the past history with the team I'm not sure as many fans would be as open to his return. Obviously I'll trust the front office with the final determination but if the two SP we add are him and Leake I will be disappointed (and that doesn't mean I think we are or need to get one of Price or Greinke).

  • In reply to Eric:

    Agree with you on the FO going after Price or Greinke should be project #1. Smardzija would be fine as a #4 and at the right price. The FA pitching market next season will be a lot weaker then this years and it's time to strike while the iron is hot.

  • In reply to willycat:

    The myth of the super staff still prevails.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Samardzija, Leake, or Zimmermann is the way I see it right now. Don't see them getting 2 FA SPs. Another SP may come through trade -- but it may just be depth.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Key factor to consider. Late in the season Smardzja threw a one hit shutout on less than 90 pitches. The talent is still there. Don't think he understood how good he had it while at Wrigley. Spend some time in Oakland and the south side of Chicago if you want a view of hell. Should JS sign with the Cubs you'll see a different pitcher.

  • John do you see the cubs maybe making a trade for a minor league player with TOR stuff ,but is still not finished product and needs about a year to develop. Maybe someone like Archie Bradley for Baez or soler then keep him in AAA for depth.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    I wish people would stop trying to trade Soler.

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    In reply to TD40:

    I prefer that to every trade offer including Vogelbach, Johnson, Edwards, Alcantara we slogged through last year.

  • In reply to TD40:

    I wish people would try to understand that the team needs starting pitching more than they need a RF who MIGHT become a good hitter but definitely IS a poor defensive position player.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Theo and Jed both said we are getting starting pitching. That is a given. They also said they would really want to keep our young developing stud postitional players. I am sure they include Soler with those players.

  • I would be cool with Shark (Bosio addressing) and another FA (Zimmerman?). That would give 5 pretty decent starters, some depth and no kids lost to acquire same.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    I am leaning that way due to the price of some of the cost-controlled arms that could be on the market. My concern with this philosophy is that it would mean we have our rotation made up of 30-something for the next 5 years. We would probably need to ensure that we somehow stagger those contracts to allow for younger arms to be introduced into the rotation at some point.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I am also thinking this is the way to go. Overall commitment is probably no more than what we would pay for Price, but instead you split up the risk and also add the potential of adding 2 great pitchers instead of 1. If we went this route we would be looking at arguably the best rotation in the MLB.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Agreed. I think it will be one of the three I mentioned. And they may round it out with trades, but Hammel may open as 5th starter with the Cubs getting top young arms ready and waiting at the upper levels.

  • If were going to give up a draft pick and sign shark, pay a few more million per year and get Jordan Zimmerman. Potential only goes so far; Look at the numbers.

  • Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't Mike Leake have some character concerns? I am 99% sure he was caught shoplifting. That usually means he has other issues. I know that the FO considers character when drafting or signing players. So maybe that rules him out?

  • In reply to TD40:

    Possible. That could be a red flag.

  • John, it's just an opinion but what do you think about signing Samardzija or Zimmerman, trading as much as I would not want to, Baez and Hendricks to Atlanta for Teheran and Maybin. You have to give to get!!! Deals like the one we got Russell in don't come along hardly ever!!!

  • In reply to Jer Bear:

    Braves will want more than that for Teheran and Maybin.

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    The FO likes samardzija's makeup? For me that's his biggest drawback. Sense of entitlement, gets frazzled when he gets in trouble on the mound, and his comments about not wanting to sign one of these "crappy contracts" directly threw two of his teammates who had signed these extensions under the bus.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    That is why the fan base is not happy with him. But if they sign him all will be forgiven because we got Russell and McKinney out of it. And then got him back. It could all work out in the end.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Add in that while it's okay to be confident, having confidence without the ability (as measured in consistent production commensurate to said confidence) is disastrous.

    No thanks.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    SK, unfortunately bad things often get said when $ becomes an issue. Shark to me is a better option than Leake ,Hammel or Hendricks come October(look at what the Mets hard throwers did to us in the NLCS), and Shark gives us another power arm in October. Seems he had problems with Cooper as much as anything, Cooper tried to made him a sinker/cutter/slider type and it affected his FB. Basically, Cooper tried to make Shark Jake Arrieta and it didn't work out. I didn't like what he said either, but if Bosio can get him to be the Shark we traded, hes worth the price(no pun intended).

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    make these offers see who says yes - (sign 1 )
    I think the market will actually be higher AAV for all
    but who knows?

    Kazmir - 2 @ $15 mil
    Fister - 2 @ $20 Mil
    W. Chen - 3 @ $39 mil or 4 @ $56 mil
    Iwakuma - 2 @ $15 mil
    Yovani G. - 3 @ $13 mil
    J Lackey - 2 @ $12 mil

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    In reply to deport soriano com:

    I will take 1 Kazmir at 7.5 mill a year for 2, 1 Chen at 13 mill for 3 years, 1 Iwakuma at 7.5 mill for 2 years, and why not give me a lackey at 6 mill a year for 2. Why not , let's splurge, let's throw in a gallardo too !!

    Too much pitching you say ? Yea it as but at these dollar store prices, who could say no ? Let them battle it out during spring training and those who don't make the rotation and refuse to go to the pen, we trade them for some serious MLB top 100 prospects plus and reload the farm for the next 5-10 years

    Theo and co would be drooling at those prices for any of the ones above. If we got one signed, it would be a phenomenal start to the offseason !!!

    One question does Fister command the 2nd highest AAV coming off the worst year of his career ?

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    i think you may have read that the wrong / i entered wrong
    way those are the yearly salaries / AAV.
    again -
    I think the market will actually be slightly higher AAV for all
    but who knows?

    Kazmir - 2 @ $15 mil = 30 mil
    Fister - 2 @ $10 Mil =20 mil
    W. Chen - 3 @ $13 mil or 4 @ $14 mil =$39 0r $56 mil
    Iwakuma - 2 @ $15 mil = $30 mil
    Yovani G. - 3 @ $13 mil =$26 mil
    J Lackey - 2 @ $12 mil = $24 mil

  • It could be that Samarzija requested to touch base 'hangout' with Theo. In that case Jeff wants to come back, and who knows if the front office is motivated.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    If you could determine who picked up the check, you'd know.

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    I find Chen from Baltimore very interesting for a 4th starter. He had very solid numbers in Baltimore, his biggest issue was some stamina problems. But as a BOR starter that wouldn't be as big of an issue. And as a lefty it helps balance the rotation. He and Shark or Zimmerman would make a solid rotation.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    I'm a big fan. I really like Chen. I would definitely kick the tires on him.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Him and Shark wouldn't be too bad. Chen also pitched well against AL East teams like the NYY and Bosox. (5-1 against them in 2014) . Hes better than Wada, his stuff sorta reminds one of Steve Trout, or 1980s lefty sinkerballer.

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    I don't want to get into "reading tea leaves" before Thanksgiving. I think Price, Greinke, Zimmerman, Samardzija, and very possibly Fister and Lackey are likely to sign after Christmas, maybe even well into January. Usually there is one guy EVERYONE is waiting to see signed. Everyone in the running will guard their financial resources until they know they are out of the running.

    I think a better strategy to pursue is, rather than waiting for Price/Greinke to sign just let them go. Let the other teams hungry for pitching hover around them. Meanwhile, we pick up MOR guys like Samardzija or Fister possibly for less than if we get into a bidding war with those that DON't sign Price/Greinke.

  • No. No. No! NO!

    We've been down this road. And more importantly, he costs a 1st rd pick.

    If the Cubs can draft as well as they have been drafting, that first round pick could well be worth over $100M, assuming 2.5 WAR/yr over 6 yrs of control @ merely $7M/WAR. (15WARx$7M).

    Shark isn't worth what he'll get PLUS that potential loss of value. Free agent pitching contracts are already inherently lottery tickets. Adding this extra risk is not worth it IMO. If FA is the way to go, I'm leaning toward those without a QO attached.

    We have the chance to get two decent pitching prospects at the end of the 1st/before the 2nd rd (if the Cubs decide to break away from power bats).

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Not that it matters, but I 100% agree with this. I have no confidence in Shark and I certainly don't want to give up a first round draft pick for him. He was not even good enough to be our 5th SP last year.

  • In reply to Letsplay2:

    I say again. Listen closely. At the end of the season he threw a one hit shutout on less than 90 pitches. Does that look as if he's lost it? A first round draft pick at around 26 is not a lot to give up, especially when you get one close to that for Fowler.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:


  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    It all depends on what he is willing to sign for.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I wouldn't want him if he signed for $0.00. He is not worth giving up the 1st round pick.

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    In reply to Letsplay2:

    he was ranked 74 th out of 76 pitchers
    in all of MLB last year.
    not sure who the other two guys were.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    I think the Cubs are banking on getting the first round pick back when Fowler signs with another team.

  • In reply to Matt682:

    How about keeping both?

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    That's what I'd like to do. Unless it's Heyward or a top pitcher. I'm not interested in throwing away a draft pick for a mid-rotation pitcher

  • In reply to Matt682:

    They offered, Fowler declined, so they will definitely get the compensation pick. But they won't be getting any pick "back." They'll still be losing a pick, and will still possibly losing big value in doing so. The "still having one after losing one" argument doesn't really hold up. You essentially have two now (just a formality of Fowler signing elsewhere). Signing Shark or another QO'd pitcher does not mean you break even. It means you lose a pick. Instead of two end of the first/beginning of the 2nd picks, you have one.

    On paper, it isn't worth it to me. But I haven't scouted high school or college players, nor do I particular care for Shark's attitude or ability. The Cubs may feel differently. And they may view it as trading a 2nd rd pick for Shark.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    You and I seem to have the same thoughts on the draft picks. They hold real value to long term success. For the right player and deal, I can see losing the pick to sign someone. But in general, I would much rather the Cubs stockpile picks and sign players with no compensation attached.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    I agree Steve, except if it is Greinke that falls in our laps. But your other points are accurate.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Agreed. As I said to MoneyBall above earlier, if it's Heywsrd or a top pitcher, I'm fine. But for a mid-tier pitcher...

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Cubs can still sign Fowler. In several ways, he is still their best option in CF. I don't think they will, but they could.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    He'll sign for 3+ years. Highly doubt the Cubs would go past two. Probably would've been fine if he took the QO and only had him for 1 yr.

    Worst case scenario IMO is re-signing Fowler and signing Shark.

  • In reply to Matt682:


  • I feel like our final ERA ranking is misleading. While the cumulative numbers looks great, we all remember quite well Hammel struggling mightily the second half of the season (following the hamstring injury), Hendricks being completely hit of miss, and the #5 spot in the rotation being a disaster most the season.

    This isn't to say I'm against signing Shark to be the third starter, I just don't want to count on Shark plus Hammel and Hendricks. Its an good starting unit, but not a world series one in my opinion. Now if you also sign a Mike Leake as well to be your #4 along with Shark, then I'm feeling better about things.

  • In reply to Matt682:

    Cubs starting pitchers also led MLB in FIP and xFIP. For differences in starters between the leagues, in 2015 AL (ERA/FIP/xFIP) was 4.14/4.10/4.10; for the NL it was 4.05/3.97/3.90. I was frankly surprised at how close the AL and NL starters were in these numbers--in my head I had been using a half-run difference. There is more variation in relievers (AL 3.77/3.94/3.94; NL 3.66/3.72/3.86), but still not as much as I had anticipated.

    As a psychologist, I know that most people tend to remember bad events more than good ones, and we don't notice that other teams had their Hammel/Hendricks/Other experiences as well. The fact is that Cubs starting pitching was overall excellent last year.

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    Considering Hammel's 2nd half performance the past 2 years, I wonder if he would consider starting the 1st half in the bullpen. Perhaps with a slight uptick in velocity, he could be very effective out of the pen.

    A little after the all star break, he could be stretched out and hopefully reach his peak performance (1st half 2014/2015) during the 2nd half.

    I realize this may not be good return on a 10 million dollar salary, but it could help the bullpen and rotation depth in a single move. The question is: could Maddon get Hammel to buy in?

  • Been a reader for quite a while now but this is my first post. First of all thanks to all of the bloggers especially John for the great work you all put in and also for the posters for making this blog stand up above the others in terms of civility and content!

    As for the off-season as a whole, I think 3 names really stick out to me in no particular order.
    1. A Jackson: I really think he is the best option in a year with few CFs. I think if he bites on a 2 year deal for 20-25 mil take it and run. Worst case you have a capable, solid defender who has a bit of pop and won't kill you with the bat, but if he returns to what he was a couple of years ago he's a consistent 4 WAR player which is a steal.
    2. Zimmerman: If you get a great deal with Price then absolutely you take it, but that's unlikely, so a guy expected to sign for about 100 million less with still great production is a huge addition to the team.
    3. And yes Jeff Samardzija: Really the big thing here for me is if the FO is on board with this I'm ecstatic. He could provide more surplus value than probably any other free agent pitcher if he returns to form. Again all I can say is if the FO signs him then they are confident they can fix him, so I'm thrilled.

    Of course there would be other signings bit these would fix our holes, not be ridiculously expensive (although certainly not cheap) and we get to keep all of our young hitters.

  • Is Matt Latos worth kicking the tires on?

  • In reply to kevie:

    Yeah, he is. I had him on my pick 6. Buying low on a guy and seeing if he still has his stuff, sounds like a Theo move.

  • My son says resign Fowler, Samardzjida, and Denorfia, with no trades.

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