The Offseason Through the Lens of the Long Term

Set against the magnitude of what teams like the Angels and Yankees are doing this offseason, the Cubs' approach to the winter might seem underwhelming or even disappointing to some. They have picked around the edges of the roster, adding Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, and Drew Smyly so far, but other than being among the final seven teams in on Shohei Ohtani and mentioned as a destination worthy of Giancarlo Stanton waiving his no-trade clause, things have been rather quiet.

This approach could be viewed as overly cautious, or it could be viewed as something different: like a game of chess, they're planning for the moves to come. The ownership and front office have been plain about their intentions of doing more than just ending the World Series drought; they have sought to build a dynasty by creating a long window of contention.

They accomplished the first task, and the tepid offseason thus far is a step toward the second one.

In a similar way, my wife and I moved into our new house a little over a year ago, and we did so knowing that we were going to one day want to update the kitchen. It's fine, it's functional, but the tile floors are ugly and starting to crack, and we could stand to rip out the cabinets or even take down a wall and open up the main level of the house, but this isn't the time for that. At some point in the future we will, but not yet.

In an offseason when Stanton was traded and without the Yankees tapping into some of their more major-league ready prospects, and Manny Machado is being dangled, it would be hard to resist plunging into the madness and sacrificing what is being built.

But instead, the contracts offered to Chatwood, Morrow, and Smyly have helped to keep the Cubs in a position to go bigger a year from now, when Bryce Harper will presumably be a free agent. This means letting Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis go to free agency despite having no clear picture of who will take their place, at least for now. Arrieta would have definitely been useful for the Cubs in 2018 and even a bit beyond, but the asking price is simply too expensive. It's a hard move to make, but it's the right one. Though I have openly advocated for re-signing Davis and I hold out hope that they will, I also understand the choice to risk him being signed elsewhere before they have the opportunity. Given the current market for relievers -- as closers like Bryan Shaw, Greg Holland, and Addison Reed are being snatched up -- Davis is not going to come back inexpensively or for a short term deal. If the front office chooses not to make a play at Davis and rolls the dice on one of Morrow, Carl Edwards, Jr. Dillon Maples, or Justin Wilson -- or some combination of them -- as the closer, think of it as a decision with the future in mind.

I have written so elsewhere, and I think they are gambling heavily on the bullpen as it is currently constructed, but if the Cubs ultimately head into 2018 without making any other additions to the roster, I believe it is a more purposeful decision than it might appear on the surface.

As I alluded to above, the big play will be Harper a year from now. There have been rumblings that the Nationals are talking about an extension with him, but I don't read a lot into this. They would be foolish not to. He is a generational talent with a lot of very productive years ahead of him, so simply letting him ride off into free agency without at least posturing as if they are going to hold onto him would be hard to explain to a fanbase that must be growing frustrated by their inability to advance beyond the division series in the postseason.

Harper has the chance, however, to make a significant amount of money and to join a team ready-made for winning two or even three more World Series championships. Before trading for Stanton, the Yankees were thought a likely competitor in this sweepstakes, but now the Cubs appear to have a much clearer path to avoiding a major bidding war for Harper. Theo Epstein has been cryptic in some of his comments this week, but it seems rather clear if you read into them even a little closely that they are planning ahead.

There is the possibility that I'll look foolish for writing all of this if they complete some blockbuster trade this winter for a starting pitcher like Chris Archer, Danny Salazar, or someone else, but at this point my belief is that they will not make such a deal unless the Cubs are winning a lot in the first half and they believe the 2018 iteration has a shot at another World Series. Like the trade for Aroldis Chapman in 2016 that was brought on by that kind of occurrence, the Cubs might go big in July rather than December. More specifically, the Rays are an oft-mentioned trade partner and have been for years, and a part of me suspects that if the two teams were going to line up on a deal, they would have by now. It is pure hunch, but I wonder if the two front offices just have overly disparate views of what constitutes an equitable trade.

So like our kitchen in a house built in 1955, we know the long term plans we have for it, but we have to make the right decisions now so that those changes can be possible. It doesn't mean we don't do anything; we repainted the walls and will probably update appliances this winter, but things like the cabinets will remain until the time is right.

My hunch is that the relative quietness of this offseason is purposeful. It would be easy to be swept up in the swirl of these winter meetings when the Marlins are practically giving their best players away and now the Orioles are listening to offers on Machado, but the Cubs front office is savvy enough to plan further ahead than that. The Cubs will be very good in 2018, but they're making the moves now to win their next World Series in 2019.

 

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  • This all makes sense, but I tend to agree with those that believe Harper is trolling us. I’m torn between the bird in the hand (Davis/Darvish still out there) and the two in the bush (Harper is still a long shot). That said, I’m happy to ride with the FO and take the gamble if they think there’s the slightest chance. Just worry that a lot can, and will happen over the next 12 months.

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    I'm not a big fan of paying a lot to get Harper on a 2019 Cubs roster. Yes he's a 'generational talent' and all that, but IF the Cubs are going to spend big on somebody who "could" fill up LF or RF and has scads of 'generational talent' of his own - I would rather the Cubs pay big for Bryant. I know a contract extension with Bryant won't come cheap - but I would love to see the Cubs make an offer that buys out at least the first couple of years of his FA.

    If the Cubs go in on Harper - I see it is being much less likely they do so on Bryant. And frankly - I think Bryant is a better fit to the personality of this team.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    EXACTLY what I was going to say......we ALREADY have a once in a generation talent......pay him first, not to mention the above and beyond character and maturity difference between the two.....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Also agreed on the character and maturity difference point Wickdipper. I have lived in the DC area since before the Nats drafted Harper - and he's periodically been reported as getting down on his teammates, and has 'pouted' a few times when he didn't think he was getting everything he deserved.

    Bryant - haven't heard one bad thing about his personality or attitude in the 4+ years he's been with the organization. And long-term - both he and Harper are corner OF guys, of Bryant doesn't stick at 3B as he continues to play.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I don’t think it’s fair to assess someone’s character from your living room. The FO would do their due diligence to ensure he’s a fit within the clubhouse. The transitive property may be useful here: if Bryant has supposedly high character (also impossible to judge from afar), why would he be such close friends with a guy with relatively poor character? Perhaps KB, a guy who knows Harper better than any of us ever will, is a better judge?

  • Isn’t the idea to try to win the WS every year within the window? Even if we were to sign Harper, don’t we all agree that the randomness of playoff baseball makes it impossible to “plan” on winning the WS, in any particular year? For me, one of the biggest holes in the roster remains another front-line SP, who we feel can match up with the studs of WAS & LAD. Though we won the WAS series, we were overmatched from a SP perspective in most of those games. I realize you have to be careful and mindful of not “reaching” to make a deal but SP should still be the longer-term priority, IMO.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    OK, substitute one of these names for "Harper," try "Kershaw" or maybe "Keuchel." By signing Arrieta or Darvish this year, would the Cubs hurt their chances of signing a better SP next year? For closers, Kimbrel, Miller and Rosenthal will be FAs after the season. I struggle with waiting a year too, but I get that signing a big name ties up those payroll dollars for years when they could have been used on something better.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    The Cubs already have a WS title. They do not have any reason to act desperately and overpay for guys to go all in every single season. Not if it means that they will potentially shorten their window by doing so.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Didn't they already do that with Lester, Heyward, Zobrist, etc signings?
    Didn't they spend the most in the offseason leading up to their WS season?

  • I don't know if the Cubs are planning on Harper specifically, or simply taking a long-term view in every decision, every year. With the current roster, arbitration will increase the payroll each year and, at some point, decisions will have to be made about who gets a big contract offer and who walks. I like that the FO is conserving their funds against that day, but I wrestle with a decision NOT to field the best possible team in 2018. I guess I just want it all! Great job, Jared, on a thought provoking piece.

  • Ahhh, kitchen remodeling, gotta love ‘utes’ and their youthful exuberance. Like my momma used to say ‘the true test of a marriage, is when u remodel your kitchen’.
    That fond memory aside, The Cubs may very well be gearing up for Harper (or whoever). But no way are they punting a season for that big if.
    With relievers dropping like fly’s and Addison Reed still on the board, by the way - if the Cubs sign him, would, in my mind, confirm the ‘bullpen by commitee’.
    I think all arrows are pointing to a big trade. Which would also fit the 2019 scenario. I think this FO has learned that, regardless of market value, HAVING to trade someone is worse, in regards to leverage (when they signed Montero). And they won’t sign a Harper, without Already having had cleared space in the outfield. And that has to happen now. The deadline will be to late, because if they need to do it then, then the trade chips are likely under- performing.
    This would have been a great year, by the way, for a good old fashioned JA Cubs Den FA contest.

  • I don't understand the statement the cubs will be good in 2018 but will win the WS in 2019. A team that was a WS champ a year ago with such a young young young core has to wait another year to compete for a WS?????? That doesn't make sense to me. I thought we were in a position to compete for a WS title every year. All we had to do is tighten up a weakness and make the occasionally big trade/free agent signing.

    I don't get how the yankees, angels and cardinals are not preparing for the long term. They went out and got proven young major league talent that should be around along time.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    First, it is certainly not that they aren't competing for a World Series in 2018, that's a misreading. They have an entire window of competitiveness to consider, and playing some of their bigger chips now might sacrifice what they are trying to prepare for in 6 months or a year. No one, especially me, is saying that they aren't competing for a World Series.

    And the Yankees, Angels, and Cardinals are not engaged in the same kind of process the Cubs are, so there's no comparison to be made there. They're choosing to be active this offseason in a way different than the Cubs, and there's wisdom in both. What the Yankees, Angels, and Cardinals are doing right now just might not be what's best for the Cubs.

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    I agree, the Cubs are on a different win curve then, well almost everyone; always have been.......;-)

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    I believe the Cubs were trying to land Stanton or Ohtani. So just because the cubs missed out on getting them we are being active in a different way? So the Yankees and Angels landed guys we wanted and were actively pursuing but the cubs are being active in a different way? Since the yankees and angels landed guys we wanted all of a sudden its not best for the cubs???? It sounds like sour grapes or making excuses to me. I would agree with your statement if the cubs were never trying to get those big name guys but they were.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    We have no evidence that they were ever discussing a trade for Stanton. He put them on his approval list, that's pretty much it. And NOT at least making a pitch to Ohtani would have been foolish. They progressed deeper into that process than I think a lot of people anticipated, but that has little to do with how they have approached the rest of the offseason.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Hey WTNY, curb your negativity!!!

  • In reply to Terry Rosdail:

    I'm not sure how you could describe that comment as anything other than a personal attack. WTNY has been around here a long time and shares a great perspective. When we disagree, and we do, he's always civil and fully explains his position.

    We play nice on this playground.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    To me Cliff 1969, it seems like he's always second guessing the Cubs FO and most of the commenters. JMHO!

  • In reply to Terry Rosdail:

    He was just offering a different perspective. I didn't see anything wrong with what he said.

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    In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    Not just today but for about the last week or so his comments seem to go against the wisdom of the FO and other commenters who are putting in their to cents worth.

  • In reply to Terry Rosdail:

    As long as he's not personally insulting people, I don't have a problem with that. It's fine to question the wisdom of the front office and/or the commenters, as long as it doesn't become personal.

  • In reply to Terry Rosdail:

    I am not being negative. That is what the article said and I didn’t agree 100% with what he wrote. Put the kool aide down and see what really happened. Just because we missed out on couple big names doesn’t mean that we are trying for 2019 to be our year.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Shouldn’t have said that. Sorry.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    You mean the kool aide comment? No offense taken.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I know one thing for sure, we were never in on Stanton.

  • Cubs agree to terms with Steve Cishek

    Cubs do not select anyone in the Rule 5 draft

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Orioles select righty Pedro Araujo from Cubs.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Is that the only guy we lost? If so, I’m ok w/that.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    In MLB portion, yeah.

    Also lost Andrew Ely, Chris Nunn, Alberto Mineo in MiLB portion

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I really like this signing. I actually forgot about him being one of the available relievers.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Looks like the Cubs have decided to shore up the bullpen. WOW, there are going to be lots of new faces down there!

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    He's been inconsistent - but when he's on he's very stingy with letting guys on base, and he's been a solid MLB closer and set-up guy.

    Good signing - what were the terms?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Sounds like 2 years.and 12-14M

    Inconsistent against lefties. Pretty much always gets righties out though.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Not bad terms - sounds good to me.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    ROOGuY?

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Cishek is mostly a righty specialist and most welcomed into the fold.

  • I agree 100%, Jared.

    1. The FO clearly believes that Darvish and Jake are not worth the longterm dollars they must be demanding.

    2. The FO, like me, must believe that not just Schwarber, but also the other kids (Happ, Russell, Baez, Almora) will improve -- and some, dramatically so. I am confident that Schwarber will at least replicate his 2nd half over the entire next season and there's a decent chance he will improve on that as well. He is a stud. And we will see that more and more as he moves past 700 MLB at-bats. And if the other kids continue to improve, well, look out -- we'll be an offensive juggernaut!

    3. I'm happy to go into the playoffs with Lester, Hendricks and Quintana -- plus, next best, who can easily be Chatwood. I won't be surprised one bit if Chatwood becomes a dominant pitcher.

    4. The bullpen is something of a crap shoot, but it usually is. I'm thinking Wilson will surprise and he and Morrow will be lockdown guys.

    5. So, given all this, I am certainly not giving up on a WS for 2018 going into the season with what we got (plus a no. 4 or 5 type SP that they'll surely sign), also knowing that they'll get some reinforcements before the trade deadline.

    Happy New Year! Indeed.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I almost hesitate to say it, but Heyward is working with Chili Davis and could improve, too. Happ, if he isn't traded, is entering his second year at the MLB level. And new hitting and pitching coaches could have a major impact as well. I hope the Cubs come out swinging in 2018 (well, assuming improved plate discipline)!

  • In reply to TTP:

    I think there is still a good chance a young position player will be traded for a pitcher that improves the rotation.

  • The cubs and orioles are talking about Zach Britton

  • In reply to bolla:

    I hope that’s just smoke screen to cover something else. I’m not a fan of trading chips for a rental who underperformed last yr.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I'm pretty sure it's a "hello Wade Davis we're looking at other folks". If the Holland deal gets done there isn't much of a market left for Davis unless St. Louis gets involved and they seem to be more trade inclined. I suppose the Angels could come a callin' as well.

  • I also have no issues with what the cubs have done this offseason I’m not short sighted I see the big picture

  • If the Cubs are to trade one of their young mlb players like one of five often mentioned the return will have to high. It's not a fire sale or addition by subtraction. If a trading partner wants Baez, Happ, Almora, Russell, or Schwarber it will cost.

  • fb_avatar

    Two things...This front office has proven time and again that they don't want to overpay for pitching and especially relievers. I think they are waiting to see the prices come down if nothing happens, wait until July. Second, the off season doesn't end when the winter meetings do, there will be plenty of moves made in the next 2 months.

  • In reply to Mike Davis:

    True. And now w/the Cishek signing they can afford to be patient w/their next 1 or 2 additions & not jump/panic move.

  • Perspective...

    First, there are still a TON of guys out there who are STILL unsigned and matchup with the Cubs needs: Arrietta, Darvish, Davis, Cobb, Lynn etc. The Cubs also have the pieces to acquire a Salazar, Duffy, Cole, etc. too if those options fall through. Also there appears to be more sellers than buyers this year too, which means the market is flooded right now.

    Second, rarely does the team that "wins" the offseason win the WS. Regardless of what the Yankees, Cards, etc. do you cant be reactionary to another team. The Cubs at the very least still have a top 5 offense in all of MLB. And that offense is under control for at least 4 more seasons. I will take a top 5 offense year in year out. And what STL is doing is trying to catch-up to the Cubs, it is not the other way around!

    Third, the Cubs MLB & upper minors is clearly lacking in impact arms. The Cubs have acquired a good quantity of arms thus far and with the acquisition of Cishek & Morrow plus having Wilson & Edwards already on the roster you have 2 guys who have closed (Cishek & Wilson) and 2 others who could close (Morrow & Edwards). Besides the Yankees how many teams have that? If they add a Britton or Colome or bring back Davis, the pen will be one of the best in MLB and the best in the division. Then factor in someone like Maples who will be waiting in the minors should someone falter.

    The Cubs are not finished this offseason, I fully expect them to sign /trade for one more starter AND acquire an established closer.

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    I wonder why a Heyward to ATL trade hasn't been rumored. ATL is moving into a new stadium, lacks player recognition and speaks of improving their defense (as they start their window of contention). Heyward with 8-9 million (for 2018) for a couple of lottery arms makes a lot of sense. Heyward gets to go home, Cubs get to shed a major salary and the Braves' fans get to dust off old jerseys. This is a win-win-win! A deal structured with (let's say 8.16 million, to make the 2018 salary even money for ATL) upfront cash and an additional 20 million IF (yes, I know it is highly likely he plays out the whole deal) Heyward doesn't opt out would look like 2018/19: 20 mil AAV, then 16-17 million over the final years. I think JHey would jump at the chance! I know the Cubs' front office would.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    This will happen a year from now

  • In reply to Ray A:

    One reason might be Heyward has a no trade clause. Another might be the Braves are not looking for a corner outfielder who can't hit. The Braves have already moved into their new stadium.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Heyward's "potential" is still there and he has a large body of work in ATL to sell it. The Braves were trying to lock him up long term, years ago. I think it is just too good of a fit to not explore.

    What about the Cubs taking on Markakis's salary for 2018 instead of 2018 salary relief?

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    In reply to Ray A:

    If Heyward has so much "potential" why would the Cubs be willing to trade him and pay money to have him play "against" them.

    Or, put another way, "Why would the Braves want to trade much for Heyward at this point?" Remember, your reasons will likely also be reasons he won't be traded. He likes the Cubs and still does. He wanted stability and a team where he fit in. He found that in Chicago.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Why trade him? To reduce the logjam of players in the OF and to open up salary space (potentially Harper). No matter how close Heyward could get to his potential (slightly above league average OPS), he will never be Harper or even a middle of the order hitter. If told he would no longer be a starter, his "stability" and "fit" would be eroded and he would likely want a trade.

    "Why" for the Braves? Name recognition and history, especially on a very young club, leadership, elite defender, long term contract at locked in cost, very little acquisition cost, if he can regain his previous offensive numbers-would be an offensive asset, local player drafted and developed by the organization coming "home".
    I know you are likely playing devil's advocate, but this kind of deal makes a lot of sense for everyone.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    Where is the "logjam" of OFers on this team? I see Schwarber - Almora - Heyward with Happ and Zobrist as subs. If the Cubs got Harper - a year away if it EVER happens, they could make a move to open space, but not now. As for the Braves, "name recognition and history" don't get them closer to the playoffs. They aren't giving up any prospects right now, as they need them for the team they are building. Maybe they'll make a deal tomorrow and prove me wrong, but I don't see it coming.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I would consider the situation to be a logjam if you have 4 starters for 3 positions. The team obviously wants to get Happ's bat into the lineup and with the three starters (Schwarb-Almora-Heyward), that will likely continue to be an issue. If you add in wanting to get more playing time for Zobrist (with Baez at 2B and Russell at SS) as well as LaStella, it equals up to too many guys and too few positions. I know injuries are gonna happen, but with depth like Young at AAA, I would try to move Heyward now.

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    In reply to Ray A:

    If this whole thing is predicated on the Cubs signing Harper, which won't happen until next off-season, it might be somewhat pre-mature to trade Heyward. The risks are simply to great that another team will be willing to give Harper a better deal. In my mind if that is the plan then sign Harper first and THEN try to trade Heyward. If you think his value will sink that much then you probably have a higher vision of his trade value right now than I do.

    You seem to view the "logjam" of OF to be a problem. I see it as a blessing. If someone gets hurt we can pick and choose who we want to play there. We can put our young guys in situations to succeed rather than throwing them out there saying, "Well, we don't have any other good OF so I guess we will throw you to the wolves for 500+ PAs."

    I don't buy that the Braves are that interested in Heyward's "name recognition and history." I don't think he left on bad terms.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    except the Braves probably dont want him right now. They might next year, tho.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    You may be right. 2018 may be the last year JHey can opt out of this deal. I don't see 550 PAs in 2019...in a Cubs uniform.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    A rumored deal to Atlanta hasn't happened because they do not want an over paid under performing player.

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    I think Cobb will be the last player they sign @ the meetings or right after.
    Joe will get the pitching he wants & hopefully a few pan out. Chili needs to get these guys hitting again also.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Cobb seems to be pricing himself out of the Cubs range

  • Since 2016, i’ve thought of 2018 as something of a bridge year. Meaning, of the 2016 - 2021 window, it was the year they were mostly likely not to win it all. And there would be a priority on developing pitchers in the minors, keeping the farm system intact, and maintaining payroll flexibility. Of course, like Jared said, if the Cubs are rolling near the deadline a move is likely to be made.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I 100% get that, certainly this FO always looks at the present, with the future in mind. If anything, the only thing that may have surprised them was making it to the NLCS in ‘15. And they obviously handled that ok.

  • A different approach might have been to keep Torres and trade him for a Archer-type pitcher now, this evening out the odds of each season. But I really liked the idea of maximizing the 2016 WS chance, and luckily, it worked!

  • It worked! How many exclamation points do we need, to drive that home. One year ago......
    Man, but that 2cnd half run in 2015 was like a dream though.....regardless of the ending.

  • I don't understand the Harper speculation at all. First, we have a $25 million right fielder with a no-trade clause already who likes it in Chicago. I'd give the chances of us moving Heyward anywhere in the next five seasons as less than 10%.

    2nd, we have major arbitration increases coming for KB, Contreras, Russell, Hendricks, Baez and possibly Schwarber after next season, not to mention still looking for an ace and a possible desire to give the big bucks to KB in a few years. The idea that we can afford Heyward, the pitching we need, Bryant, Contreras & Harper seems not even worthy of speculation.

    Not to mention the money the Nationals, Dodgers, Padres and/or Phillies could be able to offer him a year from now. Being from Vegas I would almost bet that he will have a California/warm weather desire as well.

    Harper is not happening.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    I agree with you - pay for pitching and extend your own young players

  • I could see Theo and Jed doing two things in the next 48 to 72 hours

    Montgomery in a deal to Baltimore for Britton.

    Signing Cobb or another starter.

    If you get Britton, then the bullpen would have four lefties battling it out in Alvarez, Wilson, Zastrinsky and Britton and six righties in Morrow, CJ, Strop, Grimm, Maples, and Cishek.

    Starters right now you have Lester, Hendricks, Q, Chatwood and ________, Tseng, and Butler backing them up.

    The positions look pretty well set with Lastella, Caratini, Zobrist, and Happ being the backups. Might need either a Bote or a Zagunis to round out the roster.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    I agree with those points. Before Monty's comments I thought zero chance he is dealt but after it makes some sense. I could also see him landing somewhere like San Diego in a deal for Hand or maybe somewhere like KC too. He definitely has more value than many people believe.

  • The only real deadline is when your targeted player wants to sign. So if communication is there, and the numbers can work, Cobb will come. I am not worried about Cobb. If he wants to come here and the money is right for all sides it will happen. Jed knows how to get this deal done.

    On a separate note, as an Architect, I can tell you, when renovating a kitchen, think about how you like to cook & what you like to cook - The prep, the actual cooking and the clean up. When you compromise any one of those, then you have to live with it.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Thanks Gator! We're thinking in terms of trying to open it up. Right now it feels too closed off from the rest of the main floor. Hard to know how best to do that without compromising counter/cabinet space though.

  • Harper has been hinting that he would like to play with the Cubs,but themightygin is correct they might not want, need, or be able to afford him. If Hayward, Schwarber, Rizzo and Happ hit, it will be Bryce who?

  • A couple of quick things and I'll get to my point. First of all Jared, you're writing keeps getting better and better. I swear to you that reading this piece felt like I was reading John's work and that's a lofty comparison. Good on you. Second, good luck on the remodel thing in the future. Your kitchen will end up looking nothing like your current discussions with your wife. Roll with it, and good luck.

    As far as the team I'm surprisingly good with everything they've done. The bullpen building is typical Theo. Morrow's stuff looks like it will play as a closer but of course he's inexperience. Overpay him a little and keep looking. Cishek has closed before but is better as a set up man. If you don't find a closer these two guys are a good place to try first. Wilson has closed before. It would not surprise me if they still sign Davis but I think that depends on whether the Rockies agree to that fourth year with Holland. If not Reed is still put there (the deal with Philly has not been completed) and has also closed. Oh and Cishek is a prince of a guy and is very involved in charity work in New England where he's from. So back up plan in case plan A doesn't work and strong character guys. The Theo playbook. The starting pitching does still concern me but I have to believe they're going to get a guy. Maybe it's Cobb, who doesn't thrill me, maybe it's Duffy who I like a bit more or maybe it's Salazar who I absolutely love and would immediately have the best pure stuff on the team, but of course carries the biggest risk. No matter, this will be a competitive team and while the Cardinals are getting closer I don't think they've surpassed us yet in terms of talent. I feel a heck of a lot better today than I did a week ago.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Thank you! That is really, really high praise. I've worked hard to get better over the last year or so, and it's nice to see that some of that shows.

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    It does show Jared - you were producing good pieces all along, but they are continuing to just plain get better.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks man. It's something that's really important to me, so I'm glad to hear that.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Good call on the Arguello comp. I thought the same thing.

  • It looks very much at this point they are going to go closer by committee. Having multiple guys who were closers in other scenarios allows Joe to play the match up game

  • In reply to Gator:

    I'd prefer they choose a guy and then try another guy if he struggles. Morrow's stuff plays as a closer the best out of the guys they have, whether he had the mindset that is required for the job is an entirely different story and we won't know until he tries. Cishek is a good pitcher and has closed but could be a really good 8th inning guy. We already know that Strop and Edwards are fantastic when they're even if STrop is the more consistent of the two. Even without signing another guy this bullpen looks solid, but it did last year too. Relievers are fickle beasts. You don't know what you're getting year to year. I still think they have about an 80% chance of signing Davis though.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't want davis back unless he accepts the qo. I think that will be a huge mistake to sign him longer than 1 year he's 32, walks to many batters,has declining velocity he racks up 3-2 counts every outing. He gave up more hr's this year than he did in the last 2 seasons. Let him walk

  • Jared, very much agree with the comments about your articles being a real pleasure to read. I'm an editor, and I really notice how you're reaching a higher level with your writing. Plus we all appreciate how much time you're putting into this -- it's great to have such frequent updates. Keep up the good work!

  • In reply to October:

    Thank you! This really means a lot. It's always a little scary to put things out there without the benefit of someone else editing them first, so this is really nice to hear.

  • I keep reading about Tampa being a trade partner with the Cubs. The last article I read was that Tampa was still fuming over losing Joe Maddon to the Cubbies and do not want to deal with them.

  • 100% agree, Jared. And even if they were to miss out on Harper, I believe they still like the 2019 free agent class better.

    At this point, the only moves I see coming are for some guys that the analytics department reveals.

    Mid-season has always seemed the best possibility for a trade. Whether it is Schwarber or others establishing a greater value or it is prospects down on the farm breaking out and giving the Cubs more ammo, that has always seemed like the best bet to me.

    They’ve said they knew this off-season was going to be a tough one. And I suspect that when Theo has talked about making the playoffs 7 times in 10 years, this is one of the three years he wanted fans to be prepared for the possibility of disappointment.

    But like you said, I think they’re still playing to win it and if they can get to July and look like real contenders, they’ll try to go all-in. Though to be honest, I’m not sure I can stomach anymore short-sided trades. Especially for two months of a reliever.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    *short-sighted

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