Cubs Rumors: Heyward to Giants? Harper Watch

bryce harper

Hope everyone had a good holiday whatever you celebrate. The Cubs hot stove is starting to show a flicker of heat. At least enough for me to write a new rumor article. The Bryce Harper to Cubs talk refuses to die, despite getting very little oxygen. With that in mind, scenarios to unload Jason Heyward's contract are also being churned out by the rumor mill.

J-Hey By The Bay?

Cubs twitter came to life on Wednesday with rumors flying of the San Francisco Giants interest in Jason Heyward. Fans hoping to clear salary to sign Bryce Harper jumped all over the idea. Ian Happ was included in the discussion as the possible sweetener to the deal for the Giants. Closer Mark Melancon was speculated as the bad contract returning to the Cubs, who would save money from the luxury tax in the deal.

There was only one real problem with this story, no reputable baseball writers reported on it. Well reputable is a relative term with sports writers, so let's no one from a major outlet with any track record mentioned it. As best I can tell, the rumor began with a twitter account named Charles the Cat.

Now I'm not saying Mr. The Cat may not be right, but I have no idea who they are and if they have ever been right before. Rumors about the Giants interest in Heyward date to last year. In the fine tradition of WetButt23 and KatiePerrysBootyHole I will need to see more credible information before any stock could be put in this trade idea.

If the Cubs are going to sign Harper it will likely take clearing salary somewhere. So a trade similar to the fake Heyward trade would be needed. Speaking of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Don't Stop Believing 

Cubs fans got some new Harper straws to grasp to this week with a pair of reports. First, came word that Theo Epstein asked Bryce's agent Scott Boras for a chance to clear salary before his client makes a decision. The report came from the usually skeptical Sun Times, so it got some tongues wagging. The request supposedly came during a three-hour meeting during the winter meetings.

Jon Heyman then appeared on MLB Network and speculated the Cubs were more likely than the LA Dodgers to land the slugging right fielder. This obviously came as a surprise after the Dodgers cleared salary trading Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds last week. Speculation immediately began the move was to pave the way for Harper coming to Hollywood. Heyman tried to clarify his statement on twitter after his TV hit.

Could this be as simple as Scott Boras leveraging the Cubs to get more from the Dodgers? I think it could be, it could also be Harper wants to go to Wrigley and is giving them every chance. In that scenario, Boras would be using the Dodgers as leverage on the Cubs? Or am I just trying to add some excitement to a lifeless off-season on the Northside? And what product does he use in that flowing mane? For answers to those questions and more, stay tuned for next week's episode of the Bryce and the Beautiful.

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  • Can't be happening. From comments I've read here and elsewhere, Theo is a deranged imbecile who has mismanaged the team budget to a point from which can't recover for at least 108 years. A summary of efforts to sign Harper can be found here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlbR8H2hJZM

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Not to pile on, but isn't it just an absolute miracle that we won the World Series with a roster that contained all of John Lackey, Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, David Ross, Miguel Montero, and Chris Coghlan on it. I mean how can those super sucky players that can't effect a team just sitting on the bench be involved in such a victory? In hindsight, we should probably have them give their rings back. I mean Daniel Descalso fits in that same category of player that we didn't need back then and don't need now. What is Theo thinking? SMDH...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Ha! I know right Cliff? I mean how can the Cubs even manage to field a team with Theo at the helm?!

    And Sean, don't sleep on The Cat. That's one sharp kitty who is right a lot. I and some others on this board speculated just a couple of weeks ago that the Cubs could indeed look to move JHey and some combination of Happ/Prospects/Money to the Giants to clear space to make a run at Bryce. Of course we were told that's just a "fantasy."

    I continue to maintain this is a two team horse race for BH between the Dodgers and Cubs. Have to give the LAD a slight edge, but we'll see.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    Melancon has a full no trade clause. Has there been any speculation that he is willing to waive it? He also has an opt out (end of 2018). I wasn't sure if he opted in or not. Melancon is on the hook for $14MM. And he had been injured too only appearing in 41 games and giving up 48 hits in 39 innings. I am not so sure the Cubs need to give up money and prospects to get them to take Heyward. Melancon is owed $28 Million and another $8 Million in a deferred singing bonus. It is a not a reasonable contract given his injury and amount owed for nearly zero production.

    I can see how the teams might line up, but when digging in to the numbers, it doesn't appear too easy.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I like the Quintana/Heyward/Russell to Atlanta for Swanson fantasy much better. Trading those salaries for Swanson's gets them in the Harper range...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I think that trade was pure fantasy. I saw another post that later also had Contreras included in the deal too. I have not seen that deal posted anywhere. I called my friend in the ATL FO and he hasn't gotten back to me yet.

    If Contreras is in, then ATL would have to send Newcombe our way and take Chatwood. In other words, never gonna happen. However, the mechanics of the trade is how I believe we rid ourselves of Heyward and set up nicely to grab Harper.

    I can believe I am writing this, but Swanson is a worse hitter than Russell which is hard to fathom. Not sure what happened to Dansby but he is brutal.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The stats look similar to Russell's and he did have surgery on his wrist late in the season. If the trade happened, I guess we could hope he would have improved if not for the injury. As long as I'm fantasizing..

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Thanks Cliff, it will be the first time my info has ever been right, if it turns out to have legs lol

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I never said anything about Melancon. Taking on Melancon just means the Cubs are taking on more dead salary, thus getting less salary relief on their end.

    Any potential deal involving JHey would come down to a balance of money/players/prospects going to and from the Cubs. The more salary relief the Cubs get in any deal, means the more they'll have to give up in terms of player/prospect assets to make a deal work. And vice versa. Be that with the Giants (with or without Melancon), Braves, or any other team.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I was simply asking as you said you were one of the people who speculated. I was trying to understand where things stood.

    The fundamentals would be in place, but not sure the Cubs break even. Maybe they don’t care as another $14 million comes off in 2020?

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Come on, Cliff. You know better than that. Don't exaggerate. It is statistically impossible for a team to be SO mismanaged that it takes them 108 years to recover. Stop being so alarmist.

    ;)

  • I'm still not sold on the need to get Harper, and more about the huge contract numbers that would likely be involved. I would still prefer to see the Cubs hold salary spread for the next few years of (potentially anyway) Bryant, Schwarber, Contreras and Baez. I love the idea of a team built around that core - and they are going to get more and more expensive. Rizzo is likely to get expensive as well come 2020 if the Cubs want to keep him on.

    Harper can be fantastic at times. His 2015 season was something to see. His defensive performance can be spotty at times. Offensively he would be a serious upgrade over Heyward, and that might make up for the difference in defense.

    Admittedly - my desire to see the Cubs hold onto the core is biasing me here. However, I see both pros and cons with picking him up. I would also be a lot more comfortable with taking on a potential $300+MM contract for him if there was a couple of home-grown SP ready to take over from Hamels come 2020, and if the Cubs can come up with a reasonable contract extension for Hendricks. Lester is still a horse, but he's a soon to be 35 year old horse. Ditto with Hamels.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I agree that the current Cubs core SHOULD be enough to be competitive for at least the next few years, but every player will need to play to their potential. 2 of the 4 players you mentioned did not in 2018 and another nursed an injury for more than half a season. If the Cubs continue to lack intensity, Bryce Harper won't get them there, either.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Agreed Cliff - Baez was a pleasure to watch last season and I don't see him as likely to regress significantly barring injury. Rizzo was still solid in even an off year. Bryant's injuries really slowed him down. Schwarber developed nicely defensively in LF, but was offensively erratic, and Contreras looked like an almost entirely different player in the 2nd half of the season especially.

    I still like Caratini - but one thing the Cubs should do is either play him more defensively and accept some of his limitations behind the plate, or bring in a defensive-focused veteran catcher and make sure that Contreras gets every 3-4 games off. He really looked worn down as the season went on.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to drkazmd65:

    The Cubs have a 16.5 million option on Rizzo for 2020 & 2021. A much deserved pay raise if you look at what others have and are getting.

  • Wouldn't be surprised if Harper signed somewhere other than Chicago or LA.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    There's a 29/30 chance...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You'd think someone with the moniker "WaitUntilNextYear" would be more of a betting man...

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I'm betting against the 2 favorites. Which would you take the field or LA and Cubs?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Unless the Yankees do something crazy like trade Stanton to LA to pen up space for Harper, I would be very surprised if Harper didn't sign with the Cubs or Dodgers. Those are the only three teams in baseball that would suit his level of personal stardom. Well, Boston might but that's not happening in any case.

  • Christmas time is about hoping and despite Heyward contributing in his way in 2016, unloading this load will open up much even if it means parlaying off a promise in Happ. Promises rank at the same level as hope, as in maybe, maybe. Savings appear to be $8m AAV, It means at this point Cubs way. Melancon high water is 2013 with Pittsburgh but he's been hurt and could be an interesting reliever in the right role, one never knows with relievers.

    Of course this means Cubs would be in on Harper pursuit.

  • "It's getting to the point
    Where I am no fun anymore.
    I am sorry."

  • I’ve mentioned multiple times that I live in the Bay Area, and from that vantage point, I can see a trade of Heyward and Happ making some sense for the Giants. It would be particularly good if they could get Melanchon to agree to a trade. One thing to consider: last season the Giants paid Pence ($17m) and Cutch ($12.5m), more than they could pay Happ and Heyward. And if they dump Melanchon’s salary, they could get younger and save money. From a Cubs perspective, I would feel better about it if they got Will Smith.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    That deal makes a whole lot of sense to me with will Smith. Honestly, I’d still do it without, IF Harper signs.

    Harper/Rizzo/Bryant/Baez/Schwarber 30+ HR
    Contreras has 20+ HR power
    A out of on-base skills in that lineup.

  • fb_avatar

    The Blackhawks signed Keith and Seabrook to expensive long term contracts and while it helped in the beginning it also caused them to trade key pieces of the Stanley Cup core. I do want Harper, but am worried that the effect will be the same. We don't have a hard salary cap but the luxury tax is basically one. It will work for a few years but then everyone's big salary years will come up and unless they flip them the Cubs won't be able to afford everyone.
    After saying all that, let's sign Harper and get that talent and grit and excitement that goes with it. It will be like trading for Khalil Mack--he made an already top ten defense a top 2 or 3 one. Harper can do the same.

  • There is reason to be skeptical about The Cat. I mean, as Sean points out, nobody else even came close to talking about this until a couple of days ago. I get it. I also have never seen the national baseball media be this lazy before. The stories from underground Twitter sources about the San Francisco possibility have been around since the week of the winter meetings which is over three weeks now, and not just ol' Chuck. Stories that the Cubs have always been for the sleeper favorite for Harper have been around longer than that. I call that some serious smoke, and while there might not be any fire, it's worth investigating and the media has ignored it instead sticking with their preferred outcomes like Harper to the Phillies, or Harper or Machado to the White Sox. I mean I get it, they like having the Red Sox and Yankees as perennial news stories but for the rest of the league they like the names to change but this storyline creation is nonsense. Then they roll with stories like the "Cubs are broke" and completely ignore them in any conversations, despite the Cubs never having said anything of the kind. The FO, as always, is ambiguous in what they say and require you to read between the lines but seemingly only smart fans even care to do that anymore. I've been fairly consistent for weeks in saying that the Cubs and Dodgers are the real Harper market, and now even the media is saying this, but I also think the smart money is on the Dodgers if for no other reason than moving Heyward's money is going to be difficult. All I want is for the conversations to make some kind of logical sense and for my money only Charles the Cat and a few others have been doing that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TC154:

    I give the Dodgers the edge because they already have a wide open spot for Harper. But you can also say the Cubs have the edge because it seems like Boras and Harper are waiting to see if the Cubs can free up some cash. Also, all this talk about saving money to keep Bryant is BS imo. He's getting traded at 2021 deadline and/or going FA. I'd rather have Harper locked up because KB wont re up. Then we'll have plenty of cash to extend the rest of the core.

  • I get wanting to extend the Cubs core. These guys were drafted by the FO, we've watched them come through the minors, and we've watched them win here. You get attached. But if signing Harper means Bryant or Baez walks in FA, then so be it. We as fans get emotionally tied to these players (which is a good thing), but if I'm the Cubs I'm not letting that emotional bias preclude me from adding a generational 26 year old.
    A lot of people don't want Harper for 8 or 10 years because that will spell Bryant leaving in 3 years. But the only way you get both of them for the next 3 years is to add Harper now. I say push all your chips in the middle for the next 3 years. Plus I'd rather add a 26 year old Harper to this current roster than extend a 29 year old Bryant in 2022.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    All good points. I've alluded to this before but in the whole Harper debate one thing that people like to throw out as a negative is that they might not have the money to sign Kris Bryant in a couple of years, but I think what's missing here is that it would allow them not to have to. Harper and Bryant have never played together before, despite playing on opposing teams for close to twenty years, and they think it would be fun to do it and win a championship on the same side but both are also business savvy professionals who understand that they likely won't live happily ever after on any team together, but a couple of years might be nice. My guess is that they both understand the realities and that if he does sign here the Cubs will say that they for sure will play together in 2019 and most likely in 2020, after that all bets are off.

    Signing Harper gives them a possible two year window to have two generational talents on the same team along with guys like Baez, Rizzo, Schwarber and Contreras who would all be helped by Harper's presence in the lineup. After that it would allow the Cubs to trade Bryant with a year left of control for likely a guy from a good farm system's top two or three prospects. Without Harper they would likely have to try to sign Bryant and not have the ability to get younger. It might also allow them to trade Anthony Rizzo at some point as well. When you look at it in this light Harper actually allows them to open a new window when this one is done and he won't even be 30 years old at that point. Nobody talks about this but I'd bet a lot of money that the Cubs FO has talked about this scenario a lot.

  • In reply to TC154:

    "they might not have the money to sign Kris Bryant in a couple of years, but I think what's missing here is that it would allow them not to have to."

    Bingo. That's a great way to put it. Bryant is likely not extending here no matter what (I wouldn't if I were him). It's nearly impossible to extend all of your home grown players. No team can do it. If you sit out on Harper in the hopes that you'll be able to buy a few FA years of Bryant's, you likely miss out on both of them when Bryant inevitably tests the market.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    The Giants extended nearly every homegrown World Series hero and it was a BIG mistake. The only one they didn’t was Panda, and they offered him more money than Boston and really dodged a bullet that he didn’t sign. Now, I think signing Harper for eight years is a mistake as well.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    An 8-10 year deal is not an 8-10 deal because it would likely have 2 opt outs. And the only way he would opt out is by having monster MVP seasons—9-10 WAR campaigns. I am ok with him producing $70-$80 million in value for $30-$40 million in salary. The Cubs will won a bunch with that type of production. I have no fear over a long-term deal because it really isn’t when opt outs are in there.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Opt outs are designed to benefit the player, not the team. As I remember it, Johnny Cueto and Jason Heyward really signed two and three year contracts because they would obviously opt out. They didn’t and now they are financial anchors.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    They do. However Cueto and Heyward both use their opt outs is they performed and could get more on the open market. Heyward sucked and Cueto got hurt. So they naturally opted in.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Heyward got hurt too. He hurt his wrist. That is why his hitting slumped. He seems to be coming back slowly after that initial year.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    When I look at a lot fo the bad contracts people bring up, and there have been a lot of them, Heyward is the only one of Harper's age and the offensive numbers aren't comparable. The Cubs betted on the power numbers being a fixable issue and they weren't. It was a mistake but Harper has a lot more going for him. First, for his career, he has an average of nearly 27 HR/year and the trend over the last four years is over 32 HR. Second, and this one is pretty telling, he has a lifetime OBP of .388 and a lifetime wOBA of .376. This tells you he gets on base at an elite level and it ISN'T PARK SPECIFIC as the two numbers are very close. To put that in perspective, over the last five seasons an average of 11 players per year hit or bettered that .388 wOBA number. We already know that 30 HR power is considered elite in today's game which is approximately what Harper has. On top of that his .512 lifetime SLG would also land him in the top 15 virtually every single season. Finally his lifetime 140 wRC+ also puts him in that top 15 class each and every year. So in arguably the five most important stats HR, SLG, OBP, wOBA and wRC+ have established his lifetime bonafides as predictable top 15 level talent and he hasn't played a single day of his age 26 season with his age 27-31 years left to come. Even at the silliest numbers you seen thrown out there Harper isn't much a risk as a predictable quantity that you have to decide what he is worth to you and what you can afford. You're not gambling on anything here, outside of the injury risk that comes with every single player to put on a uniform, but your own revenues. It makes Harper different, it makes the situation different than anything we've seen before.

  • In reply to TC154:

    On a performance level, it is a no brainer. IMO, on a financial level, it is a no brainer. IMO, on a length of deal it is a no brainer. There are some who for whatever reason have heartache over locking up a HOF caliber talent for a number of years and money that isn’t theirs. IMO, it is a head scrarching position to take.

    He is elite and he is exactly what our team needs. All the crappy lousy teams and payroll savings over those rebuild years ARE the reason now is the time to repay the fans.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    He has been sub 2 WAR 3 out of the last 5 years, His defense is not good and declining already.
    His contract would prevent the organization from filling other needs and signing their own players.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    WaitUntilNextYear, that's simply not true. fWAR the last 4 years:

    2015- 9.3
    2016- 3.0
    2017- 4.8
    2018- 3.5

    By the skill level and individual numbers, surrounded by better players, I think you can safely project four 5 plus WAR seasons in the next five or six.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I believe he was talking about bWAR. Harper has had a lot of good players put around him in Washington.

    Not sure how you can say you can safely project four 5 plus WAR seasons in the next five or six. He has only had one year with a WAR > 5 once in 7 seasons. With that said I am hope the Cubs can find a way to sign him.

    fWAR bWAR
    2014 1.6 1.1
    2015- 9.3 10.0
    2016- 3.0 1.5
    2017- 4.8 4.7
    2018- 3.5 1.3

  • In reply to TC154:

    That post was meant for TC154. No reply button.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Baseball Reference
    Harper WAR -
    2014 - 1.1
    2016 - 1.5
    2018 - 1.3

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    WaitUntilNextYear, yes just like I said in my earlier post.

  • In reply to TC154:

    So being in the top 15 in all the categories you noted makes him qualified for the highest AAV by over 10million a yr? Seems he should be getting top 15 AAV not number 1 by such a wide margin. I’m guessing he won’t be top 15 in those categories in yr 7-whenever on his ctt.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TC154:

    My stats are a little rusty (I haven't actually read much about baseball this off-season, which is really weird) but I don't think that OBP and wOBA being "close" means that his numbers are not park specific. I believe wOBA is a way of "calibrating" OBP by giving greater "weight" to extra base hits. Afterall, a double, triple and HR are MORE VALUABLE to an offense than a single. And this is built into wOBA in a way that it is NOT built into OBP.

    I think that the reason that they are "close" in Harper's case is because he draws a ton of BB which aren't particularly "valued" by wOBA in their "weighting." But he makes up for this by hitting for a ton of power.

    Usually if there is a big difference between OBP and wOBA it is because the player hits for power and doesn't draw BB (e.g. Javier Baez). Another time they can be skewed is a player who draws a lot of BB but doesn't have much power. Ironically an example of this is Joey Votto 2018. He had a ton of BB but only a .419 SLG last year. So his OBP was .417 but his wOBA was .370.

    In the case of Harper he had a good OBP because of his BB and a good wOBA because of his power. Certainly NOT a bad combination. But it has nothing to do with showing that his skills are not park specific. For instance, a player in a hitters park MIGHT actually have this effect on he OBP and wOBA.

    I am not saying this is the case with Harper, but merely that the statement that OBP and wOBA being similar shows that his production is not park specific.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Or in an ideal world, the market for Harper doesn’t materialize as expected, and like JD Martinez last year, he signs a large three-year contract. That’s what I’m hoping for.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I'd like to have Harper. Who wouldn't? A 14yr contract Is fine too, as long as there is a club option for years 7-14. The issue is more length than per year. Go for it.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    JD Martinez signed a 5 year contract. I know there are opt outs but that is like saying Heyward signed a 3 year contract.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    You’re right.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Problem though, just as the cubs ask Boras to check back around, if for some reason he and Theo agree to 3yr/$140m (opt out after 2/$90m), Boras would definitely check back in with LA, Philly, and DC who one probably would build on that to a point where offering extended years will come back into play.

  • With all of the nonsense rumors being spread out there, I hope the Cubs brass trading Heyward to acquire Harper would be a disaster
    for the Cubs organization, and I hope this is all smoke.
    The Cubs need a true lead off man with some speed. Why the Cub brass hasn't made an effort to acquire someone who can fit the
    bill is a puzzlement to me.
    I wish the Cub brass would stop playing favorites and get down to improving the team.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Yep, To keep a horrific hitter for a likely HOF hitter at age 26 would be a huge mistake. .

    The game has changed mightily and the Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman baseball is a thing of the past. There are no more players like that. Get used to it. Speed doesn’t mean a lot. Last check you still cannot steal firstbase.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    The leadoff/speed guy really doesn't exist anymore. Can you think of any of them? Cain? Maybe Betts?
    The fact is, any "good" hitter will work just fine at leadoff. I want someone who gets on base so the mashers cam drive him in. Don't care if it's Zobrist, Rizzo, Bryant, Harper, whoever. Just put a good hitter at leadoff.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I like first to third/home type speed tho.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Speed is nice, of course. Getting on base is much more important.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Which all the Cubs regulars already have. We have an elite base running team.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Fowler/Bryant, Cain/Yelich , score early win often! I'm not too worried about leadoff as long as Joe doesn't leadoff Schwarber again. There is an attitude and comfort element.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    If the do sign Harper I would be fine with a primary leadoff rotation of Rizzo, Zobrist and Harper. No question in my mind that would get the job done.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Rizzo did a good job filling in at leadoff because he didn't change his approach and is mentally tough, but he is not a leadoff in the long term.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Oh, I agree but I think you can have a rotation. These guys don’t seem to want a dedicated leadoff man

  • (Just like Charley Brown going to the mailbox, hopefully opening it up, and .... finding it empty .... Sigh ...)

    Once again, I open Cubs Den and am disappointed to find no news of the Cubs acquiring at least one stud bullpen pitcher . Sigh ...

    Our 2019 bullpen currently consists of Pedro Strop and Steve Cischek. "Maybe" Brandon Morrow's projected "early season" return means before the solar equinox? "Maybe" Kintzler, Duensing, and CJ do not throw more gas on the fire when they come in this year? "Maybe" GOAT Rosario's rough August - September was a once-in-a-lifetime anomaly? "Maybe" a couple minor leaguers show enough to be MLB rather than 4A pitchers? "Maybe" we are still in contention when the trade deadline comes around and a quality BP rental is available?

    Sigh...

    Hopefully some bullpen news tomorrow. See you then.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Stud bullpen pitchers change year to year. There is seldom year to year consistency. If there is they are called a closer and the salary skyrockets. Would you be happier if we signed Craig Kimbrel instead of Harper? Because I think that would be silly.

  • In reply to good4you:

    The thing is that this FO is good at finding guys for the pen when they need them. Yes, they mistakes but they nearly always start the year with one of the best pens and finish with one. Last year was not an exception statistically, but the injuries to Morrow and then to Strop late hurt and you could argue that Maddon overused some of his horses like Cishek early on. I don't think that was a huge factor but it had some. I'd rather the FO uncover a value than a "stud".

  • In reply to TC154:

    My point is that I am patiently waiting for the Cubs to begin the 2019 season with one of the "league's best bullpens". The current bullpen, as described in my originating post, is not it.

    Maybe "stud bullpen pitcher" was too much - how about "valuable bullpen pitcher at least on par with Strop and Cishek" ?

  • In reply to good4you:

    No, I do not want the Cubs to pursue Kimbrel at his current 5/6 year $80M / $90M asking price. You are correct: that would be silly. And I did not specify that the stud reliever needs to be a closer; maybe one or two guys on par with Strop or Cishek.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    What about Montgomery and a number of interesting minor league arms?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    And you are ok with trying to contend with a bullpen consisting of Strop, Cishek, and a few "interesting minor leaguers?"

    i went back and looked at Montgomery's game logs for April and May, when he was in the BP waiting for Darvish and Chatwood to finish imploding. Most of his 5.33 era over 18 games was due to 3 forgettable appearances. So he could certainly bring value to the BP IF he stays there.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I'm ok with adding one more arm to the current bullpen.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    There are a lot of good relievers still on the market...too many, really. The supply/demand curve is heavily weighted to the supply side. I think the FO is doing it right by playing the waiting game. The Cubs will end up with a good pen and a save a few millions by taking the measured approach. For example, I think Miller’s 2 yr/25 M$ contract was an overpay that will end up hurting StL.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Seasons greetings, Merry Christmas, and Happy New year to Friend in Norway.

    So talk me back from the ledge, here.

    Besides Robertson, Ottavino, and Britton, who are the quality, proven relievers in this abundant supply of FAs.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Happy Holidays to you, DtP, and all other Denizens!

    You asked for «quality, proven relievers», which is then begets the definition of «quality» and «proven». The volatile nature of relievers makes these definitions even more difficult, I think. What I’ve done, then, is take the lists of various reliever qualities provided by MLBTR, and remove those relievers that have already signed.

    Hardest throwers: 2. Nate Jones, 3. Kimbrel, 4. Kelvin Herrera, 6. Ryan Madson, 7. John Axford, 8. Daniel Hudson, 9. Zach McAllister

    Highest K %: 1. Kimbrel, 2. Ottavino, 3. Robertson, 4. Tyler Clippard, 7. Justin Wilson (!), 8. Tony Sipp, 9. Cody Allen

    Lowest BB %: 2. Tony Barnette, 3. McAllister, 4. Herrera, 5. Shawn Kelley, 8. Matt Belisle, 9. Madson, 10. Jim Johnson

    Highest GB %: 1. Britton, 3. Zach Duke, 4. Axford, 5. Barnette, 6. Peter Moylan, 7. Blaine Boyer, 8. Jorge De la Rosa, 9. Johnson

    Least hard contact: 1. Ottavino, 3. Sipp, 4. Axford, 5. Kimbrel, 6. Wilson, 8. Madson, 9. Britton, 10. Duke

    Plus the following relievers not mentioned above had a fWAR > 0.5 in 2018 (from MLB.com): Oliver Perez, Luis Avilan, Brad Brach, Nick Vincent, Jake Diekman, Xavier Cedeno. Greg Holland, who pitched much better for WAS than StL and has the track record I think you seek, is also available.

    As you can see, there are a lot of names there. I think the Cubs will be just fine if they add Sipp and McAllister. Or Clippard and Herrera (who is coming off a foot injury). Or Duke and Holland. Those are just 6 guys I think will be fine. I think the FO has the track record to find the best investment and best fit from a large group of available relievers. I am not concerned, just impatient!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    All of the relievers in the lists above had rates better than MLB average.

    The MLBTR lists can be found here:
    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/sorting-the-relievers-of-the-upcoming-free-agent-class.html

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Great post! The thing about relievers is that except for the very best of them, usually closers, these guys are not predictable. You look for good stuff and give them a shot. You overpay for the predictable ones.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Thanks, TC. I agree, which is why I think the FO is taking the correct, «wait-and-sign-a-couple-of-bargains» approach, especially if there are other financial outlays still in play (some guy named Harper comes to mind), than overpaying for one guy now. There will probably be some very good pen options available in a month at reasonable rates, as guys start to get antsy about having a job.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Thanks for the breakdown, Norway. Everyone wants to sign a "dominant" relief pitcher. But, as you say, they are "volatile." This lets us define what we want.

    Given my choice I want lots of K's and as few BB as possible. I'll let the BABIP dragons do what they like.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    If Miller stays healthy it was a good signing. Staying healthy is a big if.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    You may well be right. I would rather have two of the relievers in my post above for a combined total of 12.5 M/yr than Miller, though.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    If healthy I would take Miller over a couple middle of the road relievers. Elite talent wins and when healthy Miller is elite.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    If you look at relievers there are very few with elite talent because the ones that have that are usually starters. Most relievers are good one year and mediocre or bad the next. Yes, Miller has great stuff when healthy but the value isn't in signing Andrew Miller, it's in signing the NEXT guy who can become that. There are some alarming signs when you look at Millers stats and more importantly when you watched him last year. He never fully came back from that injury and based on what I saw from him I wouldn't have given him the money the Cardinals gave him. The most consistent reliever in baseball over the last five years is Pedro Strop. Those are the guys you want to work hard to find. Otherwise you keep looking for lively arms and plug them in and see if it works. That doesn't work for closers, necessarily, but it works for the rest of the pen.

  • It's hard to believe Theo and Jed didn't have a plan for going after Harper. They've had years to plan it. Also the sheer volume of inactivity, (yes, weird way to put it) just screams that the FO is up to something. Theo and Jed are too hyperactive to sit on their hands this long.

    They got the TV money coming in. They made boatloads in '16. Them standing pat makes no sense. I wouldn't be surprised at all it they pulled off a Harper signing.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Keep in mind the Cubs ‘won the off season’ 2 of the last 3 years. They outbid the Dodgers for Darvish. Not sure they have enough in the tank to do it again.

  • In reply to good4you:

    That said, I don’t fault thei strategy. Better to go big early in the window than hold 3 years to wait and see.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Maybe the plan was never to go after Harper

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    A good chance that statement being true. Theo always said good young cheap talent was the way to go to fill most of team spots. Then for the last hole or two you can fill it with expensive FAs.

  • Is it even possible to just waive/cut Heyward, rather than trade him?

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    In reply to Treebeard:

    They can, but they're still be on the hook for all his money.

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    If the Cubs/Giants rumor is true, maybe the Cubs are trying to add Russell in. They need a good defensive MI. Along with a whole new OF.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    The Giants have Crawford at SS, a multiple gold glove winner. And Panic at 2nd. Don't think the Giants need middle infield help.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    My bad. You right. I read a bunch of articles today. It must've been another team. I'd still try to throw Russell in if they get a quality backup SS.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    No problem. I think like you said you must of got teams mixed up. It happens this time of year with all the rumors going around.

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    Jmo, but if anyone gets an opt out after 3 or 4 years, I think Machado will be the only one in this FA class to actually opt out and sign a bigger contract. If he's still balling in 3 years, does he replace KB? I'd rather have a so called dirty player(with multiple 5+ war seasons) over an alleged wife beater. Key word alleged. I believe Addy's a POS, but his ex-wife is starting to seem a little fishy lately.

  • With all the talk about trading JHey to free up salary, are there any similar rumors about Tyler Chatwood ?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I would think there would be interest in Chatwood if the Cubs eat some salary. He is the perfect pitcher for a tanking team. ;)

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    What do you guys think of this trade? Heyward pus 9 million a year for the rest of his contract, Zobrist and Caratini to Cleveland for Bauer. Bauer goes to Toronto for Russel Martin and Bo Bichette..

    It gets the backup catcher, adds to the minor league prospect list and frees up money for Heyward.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    It makes as much sense as some of the rumors that have been going around. I'm not sure it helps the Cubs much for 2019. Zobrist would be hard to replace.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I meant to say free up money for Howard. There is guarantee that he signs with the Cubs but he would put the Cubs in good shape in the outfield and at the plate. Hopefully Happ, Bote and Descalzo would take up some of the slack of losing Zobrist.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    My hands aren't working so well today. Or my brain I guess. THERE is NO GUARANTEE THAT THE CUBS CAN SIGN HOWARD.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    Who's Howard?

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Too cold for these old bones. HARPER

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    Oh ok, got it lol

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    Creative. I like that part of it. I don’t see why CLE makes that deal. And I’m pretty sure TOR is not going to move Bo Bichette.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Thinking that Cleveland is perhaps looking for a skilled and veteran outfielder and could certainly use Zobrist and is in a competitive window, Toronto is looking for starting pithing and the Cubs are looking for salary relief. And I really like Bichette as a future leadoff hitter.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    Cleveland would absolutely not do that. They will need much more than Hayward, one year of Zobrist & a back up catcher to trade Bauer

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    In reply to Cubpack:

    You're probably right but I consider Caratini and starting catcher in the making not just a backup.

  • In reply to Theodore Anderson:

    I do too, & think that’s not a good use of him in a trade. Also, the Cubs are looking to add more veteran leaders for a playoff contending team. Trading both Zobrist & Heyward... I don’t see it happening.

  • Just asking, has Travis Wood retired?

  • I hope Harper signs with the cardinals so I can laugh at you delusional homers as the cubs windows gets cemented shut

  • In reply to bolla:

    When I say delusional homers I’m referring to the people who don’t want Harper in general or on a 8-10 year contract. You gotta be kidding me , his “down” season offensively is better than anybody on the cubs in 2018 but don’t worry almora, Schwarber overrated sorry a** and that flop heyward will lead the way.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Bolla you off your meds again?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Stay in your geek lane being the human auto correct.All you do is correct people like some editor

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    In reply to bolla:

    Yep. He's off his meds again.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I’ve never been on meds in life don’t direct these condescending comments towards me.or I’ll get real disrespectful in response

    There’s a serious double standard on this site It seems to be ok to say things to certain people.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Lol.....but where else can we get such valued “inside information” from?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    LOL. Good point.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Bryce Harper WAR Baseball Reference
    2014 - 1.1
    2016 - 1.5
    2018 - 1.3
    10 years at 300+ million will prevent the team from making additions and keeping their own players.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    bWAR severely undervalues OBP and weights BA too high. I don't put much stock in those numbers.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I don't care about war, .393 on base %, 130 walks(led baseball), 496 slug, 889 ops, 34 hr's 100 rbi's is all I care about.

    I also don't care about keeping their own players baez and contreras are the only ones worth keeping the rest suck.Jury still out on happ, I'll give him one more season

  • In reply to bolla:

    Bryant is gone after 2021 and I wouldn't dare give him 200+ mil or whatever ridiculous contract he wants at age 30.His defense sucks and he gets injured to often.Bye bye bryant, harper = bryant insurance

  • In reply to bolla:

    well, it didn't take long for one "post of the year category" to have a nominatione!

  • In reply to bolla:

    You do care about keeping Baez and Contreras. What about keeping Hendricks or Schwarber? I think you will want to keep Bryant and even Rizzo.

    If you are not worried about keeping players then what about acquiring new players - elite bullpen arms, leadoff man, starting pitching, etc.

    Do you care about Harpers defense or that he has been injury prone?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I couldn't care less about keeping schwarber or hendricks. Schwarber sucks and hendricks is wiffle ball thrower with very minimal margin for error, yes he can be good at times but ehh .He was getting launched last year

    Harper has played at least 100 games every year of his career which is good enough for me, the cubs farm can produce bullpen options in the next 1-2 years(steele,meekes,alzolay,lange etc)

    and hoerner should be ready by 2020.There's your lead off hitter, with the money the cubs will save after lester,quintana expire and by not overpaying bryant along with the tv deal the cubs will have enough to extend the worthy players and re-up rizzo

  • Tulo to the Yankees

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I sure hope this one doesn't come back to bite us. Apparently, the Yankees saw more in him than the Cubs did.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I don't think the Yankees saw more in Tulo than anyone else. He was signing for minimum contract no matter where he went, so it came down to where he wanted to play & what team gave him the best opportunity. I'm sure he felt, with Didi out, his best opportunity was in NY. The AL also offers the DH, which will give him more opportunities for AB's

  • News flash The cardinals added Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller and will get an elite pitching prospect back in Reyes,won the season series vs the cubs last season.they also still have money to spend if they want

    The brewers took the division from the cubs and will get jimmy Nelson back,along with the reigning mvp and have a strong bullpen,arguably best bullpen in the nl

    The cubs have head case edwards, china doll Morrow, Duensing and kintlzer who both suck, they lost chavez who was one of their effective relievers and two 35 year old starters and an injury prone 32 year old starter who *gasp* missed 4 months of the season with an injury along with an offense that was held to 0-1 runs 40x only the worst team in mlb the orioles were that offensively inept. And I’m off my meds by saying if the cardinals signed harper the cubs are in trouble? You gotta be kidding me , but but the cubs won 95 games, yea last season and it wasn’t good enough. Teams in the central have improved( including the reds who also won the season series vs the cubs) not even gonna mention the dodgers who have won the pennant back to back.the cubs have underwhelmed in the postseason back to back, keep drinking that homer kool aid

  • In reply to bolla:

    Bolla, you make some very good points. And missed a couple of others.

    Since you only pointed out the positives in the Cards and Brewers and the negatives in the Cubs, the outlook is not as bleak. At the end of the day, we have Javy and Bryant and they don’t. We won 95 games which is mind-boggling with all that went south. The Cubs are still the class of this division, IMO.

    If we go into ‘19 with the same guys we currently have I will be very disappointed. I don’t believe that will be the case. It’s DEFCON 1 or 2 right now, not a full blown Level 5.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    It was sort of a "glass half-empty, with a crack in the lip, a hole in the bottom and what appears to be a small piece of rodent excretement floating in it" point of view...

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I don’t be mean to be dramatic, I just keep reading about internal improvements and more focus. I expected some change via trades or fa signings and it could still happen but I feel uncomfortable seeing a notorious cub killer get acquired by St. Louis and I’m sure Miller will magically turn back into 2016 version of himself.The dodgers also lurking with flexibility and the Braves,Phillies and nationals will be competitive.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I want the 2016 version of Miller back. You know, the one that gave up the big RBI single to Rizzo in game 7 and the BIGGER last at bat DINGER to Rossy. Yeah, bring him back!

  • In reply to bolla:

    I get that frustration. And for the last 2 years I have been looking for the Cubs to make major deals to prepare for Machado and Harper. I wanted Russell gone 2 years ago and was met with resistance in here. I hated the Heyward signing too which 90% of folks in here loved. And last year I said I didn’t want Darvish if it cost the Cubs a chance at Harper or Machado. I have been advocating for change for years and knowing two HIF caliber players were coming on the market. I was not a believer in all the Cubs reaching their ceiling which is why I felt some deals were in the best interest of the Cubs. I whiffed badly on Almora, for example. I thought GG defense with 15 HR and a solid .280-.300 hitter.

    I say this because not everything was done how I would have liked. But I don’t want to go full meltdown until I see Theo’s plan. You don’t chase other teams. You make yours the best. And I am convinced Theo and Jed are working on it.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yea I just gotta be patient but every single reporter has said the cubs are under financial restraints.I don't know if that's legit or not but the cubs are acting like it and I'm not sure how they can improve with trades when they have several players with not much value(heyward,darvish,russell,happ,walkwood,duensing,almora) and no real money to spend.

    but like you said I'll wait to see what theos plan is

  • In reply to bolla:

    Gotta keep in mind that reporters have to produce something, even when there isn't any "news" to report. Some of them run with anything they hear, speculating and adding their own spin to stories that wouldn't see the light of day if anything important was happening. I think a lot of the news about the Cubs' "financial restraints" comes from this type of "reporting."

  • In reply to bolla:

    So, I don't want to be condescending or come off as a "delusional homer" or anything, but I want to be sure that I fully understand your position. You are IN FAVOR of the Cubs signing Bryce Harper? Right?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yes absolutely

  • In reply to bolla:

    Here’s the the thing bolla, I share your frustration in that I’d like to start thinking about the season and sizing the team against the division. In the abstract I still like what the Cubs have more than what the Cardinals or Brewers have. Ozuna fully healthy in a walk year and Goldschmidt scare me but Bryant fully healthy and Rizzo having more of a normal year should scare them. I’m much more confident in Schwarber than you, I think he’ll build in his 3.2 WAR season, but that is what it is. I also understand you’re not a big stats guy but please understand that what Milwaukee starting pitching did last year doesn’t make statistical sense and is unlikely to be repeated, particularly without the pitching coach that made it happen.

    Bottom line is that I believe Harper is and always has been part of a Plan A but can’t be executed unless or until he signs. I also think there’s a Plan B where a trade might be made in the event Harper doesn’t sign. It’s frustrating because it all hinges on the desire for Harper and the stall he and Machado are causing throughout the league. I have an element of faith in Theo and his team though along with a belief that the Cubs are still a top 4 team in the NL. That keeps me calm about the whole thing most days.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Good post.I'm speaking out of frustration, but I do need to be patient and let the whole process play out.I know theo and co aren't just twiddling their thumbs waiting for spring training

    The cardinals scared me last year(when they made that 2nd half push and got real close to the cubs like 1-1.5 games back) and I personally think they got much better on paper with potential to add more, along with the brewers being in it again that's all I'm saying.

    I do agree that the brewers in general overachieved last season, the starters(specifically chachin),aguilar & yelich.Cain had hands down the highest on base % of his career and it's not even close. It's like everything collectively clicked for them

  • Very good post TC. I agree that the Cubs are a top 4 team in the NL as configured right now. As you said, the Brewers pitching is very unlikely to repeat what they did last year & I don't think Yelich will have the historic last 2 months that he had last year. And they needed all of that just to equal the Cubs 95 wins. Like you, I also believe Harper is Plan A, but it will take a number of things falling into place to have that happen.

  • Cubs hired Mark Loretta as their new bench coach.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Awesome. I know Mark well from Northwestern days. Great dude. Smart and really understands the game. Maybe he is our manager in waiting if things with Joe do not pan out past this season?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Didn't hit much for power but didn't strike out a lot, either, in 15-year MLB career. Could be a good add for the Cubs.

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    This seems like a great hire. He is smart and personable (from what I see) and knows the game. The Cubs also hired Bob Tewksbury as a mental skills coordinator. Good moves.

  • I have been an advocate for trading Heyward to clear space for Harper. I still believe that they need an upgrade in the lineup instead of counting solely on all of our young hitters progressing. However, I have changed my optimal outcome in thy scenario.

    While I don’t see the Cubs being able to repeatedly blow past the max tax, I am starting to think that they may be willing to do so for 2019 only.

    Eating a portion of Heywards contract (60% of it?) to get a taker and some salary relief, should get him in a deal. This opens up a hole for Harper right? No. I believe opening this OF spot for Kris Bryant is the best way to move forward. The salary space being cleared? That’s for Manny Machado to play 3B. He is a gold glove player there, capable of playing SS for however long you need if Baez ever went down, Bryant could shift back to 3B.

    2019 Lineup

    2B Zobrist
    RF Bryant
    SS Baez
    1B Rizzo
    3B Machado
    LF Schwarber
    C Contreras
    CF Almora

    You can now compete with anyone offensively and you have a very good defensive team. Zobrist splits time with Bote, Happ rotates around the outfield.

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    I've made that point before - moving Bryant to the outfield is an instant improvement while Machado at 3B doesn't hurt at all. I'm not sure where the Cubs are on Manny but I suspect the primary target is Harper.

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    There would still be deals to be made. I don't believe you could count on a platoon of Zo/Bote being anything special. Zo is not an everyday player and Bote is terrible offensively. Do you give Happ some time there?

    I'm not wild about moving Bryant off of 3B. I always look to advantages the Cubs gain by having superior players at a position. Is Bryant as a RF a win for the Cubs versus everyone else? Or do the Cubs benefit more with him at 3B? I would rather Bryant move to CF which gives the Cubs a huge advantage over MLB by having his bat in CF. Trout is perhaps the only hitter above Bryant in CF. Javy at 2B gives the Cubs a huge advantage. At SS, still a win, but not as much. Contreras rebounding to his 2nd half '17 level woul dbe huge for the Cubs as he was by far the best offensive C in baseball at that time.

    You make a solid argument for Machado and maybe that is the better direction for the Cubs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I don’t believe I’ve seen any data or opinion rating Bryant as a plus defender in CF. That would be amazing if he can play even an average CF. I see where you’re going with Javy at 2B. If you want Machado at SS, that’s fine too.

  • PHI signs David Robertson to a 2-yr/23 M$ deal. Contract similar to what Miller got from StL.

  • Unless the cubs swoop in at the last second and meet machado he's going to the yankees(I'd bet money on this) or phillies. So realistically that's not even an option

  • In reply to bolla:

    Machado is immature. We don't need two immature shortstops. I don't think Machado can "respect 90" either. His chances of coming to the Cubs are slim and none.

  • In reply to John57:

    The cubs haven't even talked to him unless it was a secret and I agree it's slim to none chance

  • The blue jays could be a hopeful option for walkwood, they need another starter and bidded on the japanese pitcher the mariners just signed.

    Walkwood for russell martin, cubs get a back up catcher one year left(I know his #'s were awful but so was walkwoods) and throw in caratini.

    *contingent on not getting harper*

    next winter the cubs would have about 65-75 mil coming off the books + the new tv deal money kickin in then after 2020 lester and q off the books that's another 30 million.They would be poised to make a monster offer for mike trout in 2020.BOOM

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