Trying To Make Sense Of The Cubs Offseason

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Hello, Cubs Den! You may not recognize the name in the author byline, but I've followed this blog for a bit and made a few comments a while ago. I hope you can accept me into your community.

What an offseason it has, or more specifically has not, been. As fans we get wrapped up in what went wrong, what needs to be fixed, and then we debate the moves that have been made to address these issues. Usually. For the second year in a row, the status quo seems to be the modus operandi, although we still have a few weeks before pitchers and catchers report. I do expect deals to be made before then, and very possibly at least one of the "holy s**t!" variety.

This article would be easier to do in a few weeks, after the dust has settled and we knew the club for sure, but I've seen enough to form a reasonable theory of what the plan is. It's possible we roll into 2020 with what we have, but I don't see  that happening. It's more likely KB, Quintana, and/or others aren't with us on opening day. I don't think it makes much difference at this point in terms of the bigger plan. There seems to be a narrative if we pay attention.

As fans, we get caught up in the "now". What have you done for me lately? That's a legitimate stance to take, especially when you have skin in the game. We have been blessed with an incredible run of prosperity, so much so that it may cloud the long view. It wasn't long ago that we were looking at things through a multi-year lens. Anticipating the waves of incoming talent and googling future payroll projections. Trying to piece together what the future, and a good team, might look like.

Now we've lived that future, and it's time to choose a path. I will vehemently argue that we shouldn't be at this particular fork in the road, that we should have passed the keys to a sober driver following the 2016 bash, but here we are. We have to deal with it. It's time to take a broader view of where we stand, and I think that is best done by breaking it down into more digestible portions.

"YA RUN WHAT YA BRUNG" 

This is actually old, backwoods drag racing slang meaning no major ad-lib modifications and no juice right before the money race, so maybe our FO are closet moonshine-running quarter-milers. They sure have acted like it. For the second straight year, it looks like we're going with what we've got. What we've got is a talented, yet flawed, offense and an even more questionable pitching staff. I find it hard to be excited, even when looking at the best-case scenario.

I suppose we know what we have, and we hope on what might be. Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez, oh my! Can Jason Heyward step up in the box, and could Ian Happ take the next step? I certainly hope so. It is possible, and it seems that this is what the FO is counting on. I'm still not comfortable with the depth built around them (or even within them), but this is what we brung.

Then I look at the pitching, and I'd be lying if I didn't say it hurts. Kyle Hendricks will likely do Hendricks things, and Yu Darvish could be an ace, based on the second half of last year. Or not. Jon Lester could continue to beat back Father Time, or he could succumb. Jose Quintana could be an innings-eating #4-5, and that's all I expect him to be, at best. Then we have to pull out of an already-weak pen to secure a #5 in Tyler Chatwood or Alec Mills. Ugh!

That pen, currently anchored by Craig Kimbrel. I've watched Kimbrel closely since he came up with the Braves, so I may be biased. Last season was a mess for him professionally and competitively. I expect him to regress to his typical dominant self and save many games, possibly even some  important ones. We have to be there at the end, right?

After Kimbrel, we have many question marks, but I also see opportunity. As we stand, I see Chatwood and Mills in competition for the #5 spot, though that slot is interchangeable throughout the season. Relative newcomers Rowan Wick and Kyle Ryan seem to have the edge as high-leverage arms, and holdovers Brad Wieck, James Norwood, Dillon Maples, Dakota Mekkes, and others offer both upside and roster flexibility. Barring injury, I'd be surprised if Adbert Alzolay doesn't make an impact at the big-league level in 2020.

We've all been dismayed and possibly made jokes about the Cubs inactivity this offseason, but there is no denying the fact we have added a boatload of potential bullpen options. We've taken flyers on familiar faces such as Brandon Morrow and Danny Hultzen, and added numerous arms to put to the test in an increasingly impressive pitch lab. Rex Brothers, Trevor Megill, Jharel Cotton, Dan Winkler, and Casey Sadler are among a long list of impressive arms the Cubs have added hoping to unlock and catch the proverbial "lightning in a bottle" in the always-fickle game of bullpen roulette. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy seems excited with all the new toys:

"One thing in this organization that we have had a lack of," Hottovy said, "is young interesting arms that have plus stuff and maybe just haven't done it yet. Now, I feel I look around this room, and we have 10 of those guys, and guys with really interesting pitch characteristics, interesting pitch mix."

It looks like this is what we'll be running with in 2020, with the very real possibility that there could be a substantial subtraction or two before opening day. So what's this good for? Realistically, I'd say a touch above .500. Schwarber could take that next step towards elite offensive status and Happ could ride his coattails, and along with everything else breaking right, we could win 90. Just as plausible, however, is a couple guys disappointing due to injury or regression, especially in the starting rotation, and we plummet to a fourth-place finish and a "W" flag longing to see the light of day.

THE TAXMAN COMETH

The popular narrative among Cubs fans this offseason has been that the lack of significant additions is due to the Ricketts being "cheap". I don't buy that. They have shown the willingness to run a top-3 payroll, and I think we are 4th as of today. It isn't a matter of austerity. It is part of a normal cycle working within the current CBA, with a strong influence of recent contractual failures.

I've been very hard on the FO, but I don't mean to give ownership a free pass. I just don't agree with the "cheap" thing. I'd bet my last beer the Ricketts would love to be sitting on two or more Championships during this window and happily doling out a $300M payroll, and all the monetary penalties that go along with it. But that hasn't happened.

Instead, we will likely reset the CBT penalties by staying under the $208M threshold this offseason. All the large-market teams do this periodically to avoid the most serious penalties, which can include the loss of IFA $ and draft picks for repeat offenders. Under the current CBA rules, the worst penalties are reserved for those organizations that repeatedly exceed the spending limits AND subsequently sign a top free agent with the qualifying offer attached. That's when the pain gets real, and why the current system was designed to deter teams from "buying" superiority.

With the release of Joe Maddon, the hiring of Boss Ross, and the complete makeover of the organization's scouting, drafting, and development infrastructure, it makes sense that this is shaping up to be a transitional year. We have the talent, at least on the offensive side, to be competitive. I'm a pitching and defense fan, so I'm less enthused. But hey, who knows? Baseball.

I will say this: we currently stand around $215M in payroll going into 2020. I haven't seen details on the Souza deal, but that will tick it up. We will not stand right at the edge. There is no reason to go over the threshold by a few million and compound our penalties going forward. That would be professional malfeasance by the FO. FIRE EVERYONE!

There is the very slight chance the trade market doesn't pan out for a worthwhile deal for KB or Quintana, the management sees a weak NL Central, and we spend a few dollars to plug holes with legitimate major-leaguers. There's also the chance that pigs fly.

I see no way that we do not cut salary to get under the $208M threshold for 2020, and that means someone is gone. I expect that someone to be KB when his grievance is finally settled, or possibly Quintana. I suppose other moves are possible, but unlikely.

WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR

By far the most likely scenario is the Cubs go into 2020 with high hopes, minus a key piece or two, and play out our hand. We reset our penalties and go all out, or close to it, heading into next offseason and beyond. There are free agents to be had, from Mookie Betts, George Springer, Andrelton Simmons, and Trevor Bauer next year to Fransisco Lindor (among other current fan favorites I don't care to mention) headlining a stellar class in 2021-2022. As our current club control expires on many of our core players, so does the current CBA. Who knows what the next one will look like.

From a purely financial standpoint, we will be shedding some big contracts. Lester and Quintana are likely gone post-2020, if not before, and other contracts come off the books. On the bright side, the much-maligned Cubs' pitching development will soon begin to bear fruit. I expect Adbert Alzolay to make a significant impact in 2020, and he, Cory Abbott, and heralded prospect Brailyn Marquez should compete for spots in the 2021 rotation.

The uncertainty heading into the new CBA negotiations will be tempered with this wave of pitching, along with the solidifying presence of Nico "Suave" Hoerner and the impending emergence of potential impact players in Brennen Davis and Miguel Amaya. Things look bright, just not at the moment.

Have I mentioned that we will have a new FO by then?

There is a lot to be anxious about this offseason with the lack of, well, anything. I do expect a move or three before pitchers and catchers report, most likely the day KB's grievance is settled. In the words of the (in)famous Hawk Harrelson: "He Gone!". I'd love to see Bryant's entire HOF career play out in the Friendly Confines, but that doesn't appear to be likely.

And I don't blame the Ricketts.

By the way:

"Slim Shady."

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  • fb_avatar

    Welcome Mike. You do write well, and maybe we should be "Cleaning out my closet." my homage to Slim.
    As for the Cubs, you mentioned that we still have a very, very good club. Last year was maybe an anomaly in that our base running and defense took a dive for the worse. I hope it was an anomaly. If so, we have a very good defensive team, and that's why this latest signing confuses me. JHey ought to remain in RF and win another GG. We need a CF. Is it Happ or Albert A or someone else? Kyle S has made himself a decent LF, and the defense of our infield is very good, with the only ? is at 2nd.
    I hate "ifs" but if we can get back to taking pitches and walking we can win the Central and go from there.
    The talent is here. I do think we will have traded some of it by opening day, but I hope we can concentrate on defense, OBP and better team speed.
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thank you, Mr. Friedman.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Mike, just Jonathan is fine.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jonathan, don't call me Mike.

    You'll figure it out, my friend.

    Buy me a beer, and I'll bring the best piece of pecan pie you've ever known.
    :) )

    "Freedom's just another word
    For nothing left to lose."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Wow, that’s you! Welcome.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    When I first began reading this site, I saw the usernames. I was a newbie to the interwebs, and I was intimidated by this experts on this site. I thought I had to keep up with the cheese, so I brought it down to two options:

    BarleyPop, or...

    Alfonseca >>>Mordecai

    I'm glad I chose Barley.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    If I had an option on who at Cubs Den would first question my name change, my first choice would be Jonathan. And in a perfect world, he wouldn't get it, but eventually show the true kindness of his soul.

    That's exactly what happened.

    I love you, brother.

  • Welcome to Cubs Den, Mike P. Tell Barley Pop we will miss him.

    Like you, I believe a big trade will happen. If Bryant goes, the best return will be to rid the club of Heyward's and Quintana's contracts, then right the ship.

    If the Braves are open to it, Bryant, Heyward and Quintana for Inciarte and prospects or pieces. That would give the Braves a pretty good outfield (Ozuna, Acuna and Heyward) plus a darn good infield. They would be right in the mix with anyone as favorites.

    If it's the Dodgers, no deal for Bryant without Lux coming back. Then keep Heyward and trade Quintana at the deadline.

    Maybe there could be something with the Padres, but I can't see a scenario where we take Myers back in a deal unless it's a Bryant-Heyward-Q for the 3 years left of Myers (at $13AAV even though the real $$ per year are higher) plus Patino. That removes $39Mil or so from this years Luxury tax number and $43Mil or so from 2021.

    These may be our best hopes to clear and start anew.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I don't think the Braves adding Heyward improves their outfield. I also don't think they have to money to take on Bryant, Heyward and Quintana's salary. I also don't think the Dodger will trade Lux.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I think the Braves have the money for Bryant. From what I read, they did not want to commit the length and dollars that the Donaldson deal approached. Just from reading, I think the Braves would have gone 3 years-$75Mil with Donaldson. It was the 4th and 5th years that caused them to put on the brakes.
    It's splitting hairs on are the Braves a better team defensively, offensively and leadership-wise with an outfield of Osuna-Inciarte-Acuna or Osuna-Acuna-Heyward. If the Cubs thrown in $8Mil on a Bryant-Heyward pairing, the dollars between Inciarte and Heyward are not that far off.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I remember years past when we could take on players and salary, because we could. Now we can't.

    I've never got into this-guy-for-that-guy trade speculation. There's too much I don't know. Too much internal evaluation for me to give an informed opinion.

    I do know this: the Cubs will shed salary, or else. There is no way, I repeat NO WAY! we sit at the threshold and finish just above, compounding our penalties and mortgaging our future with a mediocre team. Won't happen.

    We go all out, or we go below.

    I guarantee we go below.

    And I knew that BarelyPoop dude. He Gone!

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Ordinarily, I would worry about the luxury tax, but not at this moment. Seriously, the penalties are a pittance when you consider the capital available to the Rickett's family. But the much bigger issue to me is how huge the penalty would be for sitting it out when they have only a two year window left with this core. They are at least two reliable starters, a couple of BP arms and a legitimate lead off man from seriously contending- and that's with this core. Their FA inactivity this offseason was shameful. IMHO

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Why would any team trade anything of real value for Bryant, and Heyward's $86 million contract? Why trade Bryant for garbage, and salary relief? I cannot see that happening.

    Earlier this offseason the Angels had to trade their 2019, 1st round pick-15th overall, who received a $3.4 million signing bonus to SF. To get the 1st, the Giants took Z. Cosart $12.6 million dollar salary for the 2020.

    I think most fans expect a few big trades by the Cubs. Modern MLB trades, I expect the Cubs get good, but not great returns on paper. Guess we will all see when Theo and company actually makes them.

    I hope your idea has legs, because Heyward looks like a 4th OF on a good team.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    You can call me Barley, or BP. I swear I won't mind.:)

  • fb_avatar

    Did I miss something? What happened to Barley?

  • Jonathan.....As I understand it, Barley Pop was the eternal optimist. He and Ernie were one and the same. As this off season began to get a little too negative, Barley Pop went on a sabbatical of undetermined length. While the Hawk may think, he gone, I know that BP will one day rise and take his place on top of Cub positive fandom!!!! Until that time, Mike P will provide us insight, knowledge and humor.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Thanks TCP.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Dude.

    "As the sun breaks, above the ground,
    An old man stands on the hill,
    As the ground warms, to the first rays of light
    A birdsong shatters the still.
    His eyes are ablaze,
    See the madman in his gaze.
    Fly, on your way, like an eagle,
    Fly as high as the sun,
    On your way, like an eagle,
    Fly and touch the sun.
    Now the crowd breaks and a young boy appears
    Looks the old man in the eye
    As he spreads his wings and shouts at the crowd
    In the name of God my father I fly.
    His eyes seem so glazed
    As he flies on the wings of a dream,
    Now he knows his father betrayed
    Now his wings turn to ashes to ashes his grave.
    Fly, on your way, like an eagle,
    Fly as high as the sun,
    On your way, like an eagle,
    Fly as high as the sun."

  • fb_avatar

    One more reference and I’m fine. Mike, or “it might be, it could be it is!!”
    I love you like a brother too—and I have 3 of them!
    I would like to trade Q back to the Sox for one of there up and coming pitchers. Q is healthy and one or more of their pitchers won’t make it through the season.
    I still think that tightening up our defense and base running will win us another 5 games this year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Trade Q to the White Sox for Jimenez and Cease!

  • Obviously, the Cubs are waiting for the Bryant case to be settled before they make a deal. So, their offseason really hasn't begun yet. In the meantime, I evaluate a team's prospects for making the postseason by tallying the number of question marks on the team - in other words, the number of areas in which the team has to depend on luck. The more question marks, the less likely the team is to make the playoffs. This isn't an exact science, but I find that it does give a pretty good idea of a team's standing. So, the Cubs have questions marks at:

    1. Leadoff hitter
    2. Center field
    3. Second base
    4. Third base (given the impending departure of Bryant)
    5. #1 starter (sorry, I'm not sold on Darvish)
    6. #4 starter (ditto Chatwood)
    7. #5 starter (ditto whatever warm body they plug in)
    8. Closer
    9. Setup man

    Some holes will be filled by trades; some by a young player or retread who steps up. But not all nine. That's just not happening.

    I hate to say it, and I hope and pray that the team proves me wrong, but ... I think after the ASG, the Cubs will be sellers.

    And BP, if you're reading this: thanks.

  • In reply to Nemo:

    I am, and thank you.

    Lots of question marks for sure, especially in the pitching staff.

    I've said this before and I hope it doesn't come true: possibly the worst thing that can happen to the Cubs in 2020 is that we are sitting a couple games up or down atop a weak NL Central at the AS break and we decide to play on. I want to win, anything can happen, but I just dread that in-between. If we're going to go, go. If not, it would be wise to sell.

    I hope we are 8 games up on July 20. I don't think we will be. As much as it pains me to say, I think we'd be better off down by 8 than right in the middle.

  • Assuming Nico has a solid ST put him in the 1 hole at 2B and move forward. Could he use another 500 minor league AB's?

    Who else on the 40 man makes the team better?

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    My money is on Ian Happ with all his flaws! I like power/good OBP-skills/utility guys.

    I like Nico too, did he leadoff in the minors?

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I know Happ wants to play 2B. But Nico is coming sooner than later. Happ doesn't look bad in CF.

    I don't recall Nico leading off. I just like his contact rate. IMO this is the the year we find out a lot about Happ and Schwarber. Look before you leap.

    Time will tell if any major trades are made. Though it looks inevitable given how many guys are FA's after '21. Decisions need to made. Simple as that.

    That said I honestly believe they'll be in the hunt this year. A lot of "if's" to be sure. Starting with the pen. But IF Morrow is healthy and Kimbrel rebounds you gotta like the late innings with a lead. Starts there. Can't win if you can't finish.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    Happ doesn't want to play 2b. He knows he is weak defensively at 2b and his chance for playing time is in CF.

  • How is the "luxury tax" salary determined for the entire year? I mean, a team could begin the year at $215M and trade away $50M in July. How is all of that determined, anyone? Like Mike BPilbean said, no way they go over threshold by a marginal amount with this team, but maybe they go into July with a team team salary just a little over and decide to either "Ef" it and go for it--adding whatever is needed, or at that point see it isn't worth it and trade away enough salary to get a feel the tax threshold.

    I wish I knew how it worked.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Good question, and I see a lot of fans trying to game the system. Unfortunately, it's pretty straightforward.

    We do salary projections as fans at the beginning of the year because, well, we're fans and that's what we do. The total is assessed at the end of the year. It is based on many things, including the entire 40-man roster, performance bonuses, etc. It is based on a per-game system, for lack of a better term. If we trade away salary at the deadline, that salary is pro-rated. For example, and what I think you are hinting at, we can't go into the season a few million over and then erase Chatwood's salary by dumping him at the deadline.

    It is possible to enter the season projecting (key word) to be over the limit of $208M, and then shed salary throughout the year to make the final assessment. The final total is based on what is paid out throughout the year, at the end of the year. There are mathematical games to be played here, but make no mistake: a FO would be foolish and immediately fired for playing such games and miscalculating. You have to have a plan, and I am quite sure our plan is to be safely under at the end of the year.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Just to be clear (and I should have been), here's an example:

    Chatwood is making $13M this season ($12.666M AAV). If we traded him at the July 31st deadline, we would only save the $4.4M or so left on the season, not the full amount. We would have already paid him through that date ($8.6M or so), and that counts towards our salary total at the end of the year.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I too would guess it would be related to the final salary paid. What I also did learn is that the 30% or 50% luxury tax is only on the $ that are spent above the threshold. So spending over the limit is not devastating.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    From what I've read, it is not the actual dollar amount of "tax" they would pay that is troubling. It is the way the tax grows by the third year and the cost of losing the repayment of funds they pay to the CBT, plus international money, etc. It get's pretty serious in the third year. That is what they want to avoid. It's either reset this year and with the opportunity to go hog wild next year (Mookie!), or stay over this year and have to make major cuts next year.

  • This almost has to be the week that they rule on the grievance. Time is running out. MLB still has big news on the sign stealing issue to come as well.

    I have not given up on Happ or Almora yet, so if the Cubs stand pat with one creative move to get under the penalties, I will still be optimistic about 2020.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    What this team needs above all else is an attitude adjustment. All players should have that mind set after 2019.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The team needs to stay healthy. No need for an attitude adjustment - the players want to win

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I think they want to, but need to focus more on what that entails. Maybe Boss Ross can get them back to playing like a cohesive unit. Lately they have appeared disjointed with periodic loss of focus, and at no point had the team found their groove.

  • Nicky2Bags is off the board to Cincy. Wow, talk about a gut punch!!! That is a heckuva lineup Cincy is putting out daily. With healthy pitching I gotta believe they win 90+ games now.

    And let's celebrate Souza!!!!!! Woo Hoo!!!! Can't wait until he and Descalzo hit 7 and 8 Opening Day.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    at least that is better than if they are our 1 & 2. I think Cincy will score more runs than the Dodgers (886) did last year. That will be a tremendous line-up, very good starting pitching and 3-4 really good back end bullpen pieces.

  • fb_avatar

    Nicky2Bags to the Reds . Wow ! What is it that the Cubs get a guy who can HIT ! And they let him go . Hitters like him don't come around to often . hope the F.O. bails us out at the last minute with a Plus + to start 2020 with !!!!!!

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    He hit way above his career norms with the Cubs. He was not a fit defensively.

  • fb_avatar

    Starling Marte to Arizona for 2 prospects and $250 IFA money. The 2 prospects are highly though of but are young, 19 and 21 yrs old.
    I would think trading KB or Willson would be for better prospects and higher on the food chain so to speak, but I like getting IFA money too. Theo has done very well with those signings.
    One more punishment I would have given to the Astros would have been taking away their IFA money for 2 years.
    So there's really no one out there that's been talked about other than Cubs players. Let's get this decision handed down and see what transpires.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'd rather they keep Bryant and Contreras and make another run for the division

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I'm just saying that those are the most talked about players now. I actually would like to trade KB, even though he's a terrific player because as I think Mike said above, the worse thing is to be average. We need to refurnish our farm system, and are doing that, and by getting better young talent we assure ourselves of a chance to win in a new window.
    As for trading Willson, I would hate to see him go because he does so many things right, both offensively and defensively. He can change a game with a snap throw to first and not many can do that. I would rather trade Schwarber--right now he's got plus value, but he has his ups and downs and let's see what we can get for him--Theo can surely listen and see his market value.
    Without doing anything we have a plus 3rd baseman, SS, 1st base, catcher and RF. All of them could be and have been AS and not many teams can field that much talent.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Sorry, Jason Heyward is not a plus right fielder. He is an anchor and a big reason the cubs are in a downward spiral. He was a huge mistake!!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    On paper it doesn't look like a windfall for the Pirates. The Pirates even had to kick in $1.5 million in cash.

    At least if the Cubs trade off players, maybe then they will go after some free agents in the future. I get the feeling a big selloff is coming this season.

    Cubs interested in Scooter Gennett, I hope they sign him.
    At this point why not roll the dice on a couple bats like Souza, & Gennett.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Cubs have descalso, happ, and hoerner waiting in the on deck circle. Do the cubs really need scooter? Take a pass on Souza too

  • Scooter Garnet must feel like left over table scraps if the Cubs are talking to him.

  • MIke,

    You say don't blame the Ricketts. Who do you blame then? the buck literally stops with them. They are worth billions. A few million in luxury tax is a drop in the bucket. Accountability starts at the top and filters down. I think Ricketts has decided Theo is a goner after his contract expires and this year means nothing.

    I am 55 years old and very frustrated and disappointed that this team has no direction and is in a holding pattern. It's a shame and a disgrace we did not try to resign Nicky or get Marte in a trade. If we are lucky enough to contend we may add pieces but if we flounder at 500 or below it will be a major sell off and reset.

    After that World Series win I really thought we would be in the hunt the next 3-5 years.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    AzChris, I have to disagree with you and agree with Mikebarley, you can’t blame Ricketts. He has always been willing to spend money, even going past the 2nd tax tier last year. But even without the money penalties, going over the luxury tax for 3 straight years makes no sense. The baseball penalties are too severe and that is why even the Yankees & Dodgers have made sure to get under to reset the penalties. So as an organization they have to decide, are they better off getting under the tax threshold this year or next year? After what has happened to the team the last 2 years, I think everyone in the organization agrees it makes more sense to stay under this year. Give some of the young players like Happ & Almora one more chance to see what they can offer, look at some of the young pitchers like Alzoley & Mills, and see if they can sign some of the core to extensions. And then be in position to go after guys like Mookie Betts next year
    I am also 55 years old. I never thought I’d live to see a World Series championship, so I’m not disappointed. And they have been in the hunt the last 3 years after the title. They were in the NLCS in 2017, had the best record in the NL until the last game of the year in 2018, and were in the hunt until the final week last year. And I believe they will surprise most Cubs fans this year & be better than we all seem think right now

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Tom Ricketts and co are businessmen first and foremost. The fact that I was in 50,000th position for season tickets and now am being courted to buy season tickets speaks volumes. Tells me the fans have grown tired of current situation. Joe Maddon and his laissez faire attitude was a big contributor to this team’s demise. You mention how you were happy that cubs went to playoffs and lcs all these years. I am of the belief the cubs should have won the World Series in 2017 as they were constructed. Cubs probably should have won both road games against dodgers in 2017 nlcs. Maddon made suspect decisions and cubs cane home down 2-0.Alzolay and Mills could be used in a pitching emergency or be traded for a bag of balls. Neither are any good. The window is closed and it’s time for rebuild. Cubs wasted golden opportunity to win multiple World Series. I for one am not interested in just making playoffs. That is the old cubs fan mentality.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Totally agree I am not looking for one World Series every 100 years. Ricketts is owner period and is ultimately responsible. I would like to know the dynamics between Ricketts and Theo. How often do they meet? how much say does Theo have.to make decisions, etc. That is something we may not know. I don't agree with the wait and see what this year brings garbage. Time is running out if it hasn't already and my most frustrating position is we are going to reset again and blew the last few years of winning another title.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I'm totally interested in winning the division, and hope the Cubs are in the playoffs hunt most years. The Cubs made 1945 WS, the next time they made the playoffs was 1984! Since 1984 they made it in 89,98,03,07,08. Then the current playoff run 15,16,17,18, are you really tired of the playoff, and pennant race/wildcard chase already?

    The Cubs have only won playoff series in 03,15,16, & 17. World Series or bust, really.

    I hope the Cubs can figure out, within as short as time as possible to create another Cub's run like we just had.

    The Cubs should have a total financial advantage over not only the NL Central, but most MLB teams. I hope the Cubs figure out how to use their financial advantage, and become the dominate baseball team in the Midwest!

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Maddon' s laissez faire attitude! Bingo!!!! Joe should have been given a ticket on fast train out of town after that half ass start in April. That team was the least ready to play baseball coming out of Spring Training in Cubs history.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Maddon s laissez faire attitude, Bingo!!! Joe was asking for a ticket on fast train out of town with the least ready team to play baseball coming out of Spring Training in Cub history. Ricketts and the front office should have accommodated.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Sorry about the double post, I tried to clean it up a little. Anyway, I think Maddon wanted to win , but only if in his own creative image.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    To continue the conversation with myself, did you see that the Astros dusted off Dusty. He is their new manager. Pretty cool. I guess if he can get Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds to be good teammates, he has as good of a chance as any in Houston. I don't think any manager can make enough difference to make up for knowing what pitch is coming. Good to have him back in the game. I wish him the best.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Talking to yourself, eh? May I join in?

    I saw that Dusty Baker news earlier. I know he gets a bad rap, and somewhat deservedly so, but I like him. He's an old-school drill sergeant on and off the field. His resume, reputation, and managerial style is completely opposite of the culture within the Astros organization, IMO. Is this a face-saving, knee-jerk, public relations overreaction by Jim Crane? This will be interesting to follow.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    His biggest challenge will be to keep the electronics/wires off of Altuve’s body.

  • Every year there are a half dozen teams that "should" have won the world series. If a handful of things had gone differently.

    The Indians :should have won in 2016, if only their third baseman had positioned himself 6 inches to the right when Zobrist came to bat.

  • Good article. My gut, however, tells me that this is not accurate:

    "We reset our penalties and go all out, or close to it, heading into next offseason and beyond."

    I don't see a five-year rebuild. But it is going to take more than one year to accumulate prospects, have them develop (and current) prospects develop, and then time when to go for it. I expect the offseason after the 2021 season is when they'll start spending.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    With a different front office in place?

    Cubs sign Jeremy Jeffries to a 1-yr deal. 800 k, 1 mill if all incentives kick in.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I like the Jeffries signing a lot. He was really good in 2018, but overused by the Brewers. So it was probably inevitable he would get injured and struggle last year. If he can get back close to what he was in 2018, he will really help.
    I haven't seen the corresponding roster move though. I believe they're at 40 and need to open a roster spot for him

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    I haven't seen a roster move yet, either. I also haven't been studying the 40-man enough to offer a guess, although I know it is light on position players. I would assume a fringe arm goes through the process.

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    I hate to be that “Grammar police” guy, but His name is Jeffress, not Jeffries. Sorry.

    I hope he has some gas left in the tank. He was pretty darn good in MIL.

    In 2014 when I was living in Danville, Ca took my family to the Giants-Brewers game on a Sunday. Jeffress rolled a ball on top of the dugout to my 8 year old son and another one to my 5 year old daughter (1st row seats). Cool guy. Never forget it. Glad I can root for him now as a Cub.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Thanks for correcting that. I knew it was Jeffress, not sure why I misspelled it but thanks for correcting my mistake.
    That's a cool story. I live in WI, so saw a lot of him through the years with Milwaukee. Because of his intensity on the mound, he was an easy guy to dislike as a Cubs fan, but I know my Brewer fan friends loved him. He always reminded me of Dave Stewart with his glare from the mound.
    Glad to hear he sounds like a good guy and I'm looking foward to rooting for him now too. I think he will be popular with Cubs fans if he pitches anywhere near his 2018 performance.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Ya, me, too.

    For some reason I had Jeff Jeffries stuck in my head. So I fixed the first name but not the last...

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Maybe a former Met Gregg Jeffries stuck in your head?

    All good!!! We all have typos. I just thought his name was more important than a misspelled word. I meant no disrespect by my post.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    And none taken! I’m just a tad embarrased, not meeting my own standards....

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    And if it really was because a former Met was in my head, I need to call pest control and get that damn thing out!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I think Theo will be extended for another five years.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Interesting take. I would love that. Not sure his personality will withstand working for Ricketts another 6-7 years.

    I see Ricketts getting more involved and that is never a good thing when “fanboy” thinks he is better at making baseball decisions. Another 3/4 place finish may spell the doom of the current management team as Ricketts will need his scapegoat.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Ricketts has never given any indication that he wants to get involved in the baseball side of things and has come out and said as much. And by all accounts, Theo and Tom have a great working relationship. If Theo is unhappy about the budget given to him by Tom, then he has no one to blame but himself by some of the deals he has given out.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Ricketts budget constraints, which by the way are mind boggling, are exactly him getting involved in the business. It was great when he prints cash winning a World Series and sellout after sellout with plenty of beer, hats, and jerseys on a lower budget team, but handcuffs Theo over a few million when up against a tax number? I feel no sympathy for the billionaire and will never agree with this current state of Cubs finances and subsequent affairs. Not when the Yankees and Dodgers spend big dollars and now middle of the pack teams and spending big dollars. Cubs generate more revenue than damn near every team.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Ricketts will hold Theo accountable. Tom is head and shoulders the best owner in any living Cub fan's lifetime. Of course that doesn't say much. I think the early Wrigley patriarch was ok, but I wasn't born yet. He is the owner so I doubt that he will be going anywhere anytime soon. He started with a big mess and seems be doing pretty good. What's not to like?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Replied above — for me it’s to operate like the big boys, not the mid to lower tier teams.

    Given the state of the minors, the team needs a FA or 3 to compete. To cut off spending when the team needs cash is bad. Now, instead of resigning our Stars and MVP caliber players we are talking about trading them. We just can afford them. Seldom does trading your Stars work—usually you get some decent guys with a couple of hopes and prayers that never work out. These last 2 seasons and off season are frustrating as a Cub fan.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    It’s not really about the money for Ricketts, in my opinion. The Cubs have spent more the last 2 years than both the Yankees & Dodgers. The problem is the current system really penalizes teams that spend above the cap for 3 consecutive years, and not just financially. So the Cubs need to stay under either this year or next. And I think it makes sense to get under the threshold this year to reset the penalties, and then give themselves a chance to get Betts & extend Javy next year

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    3 years in a row above the CBT is just money as long as you are under $40M from the $208M for 2020. The Cubs are printing money now witch is a good thing.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Couldn't this be the classic- You're damned if do, and damned if you don't.

    I prefer the option of trading away players to create payroll flexibility, in addition to the players/prospects you get in return.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Name all the teams spending more than the Cubs.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    This off season most all of them. The last five years, not many. I'm not a fan of buying a team, but the Cubs pretty much spend with the big boys these days. So much so that they have to shed a little in 2020.

  • What on earth is going on with the Cubs ? Last season the Cubs sent two prospects from their top 30 list to Detroit for Nicolas Castellano and then allow him to walk !
    Q. How much money will the Cubs save by firing Jed Hoyer ?
    I've attended and followed the Cubs since 1955 but this is something that I cannot understand. Do the Cubs know something that the public doesn't ?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Are you in a bowling league buddy?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    NOPE ! USED TO BOWL BUT CAN'T ANYMORE !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Neither one of those prospects are likely to amount to much. I always assumed that Castellanos wouldn’t be re-signed. Positionally and financially it didn’t work.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Then why go thru with this deal in the first place ? What's the point?

  • One way to feel better about the situation that the Cubs find themselves in is to remember how close we came to losing came seven. I'm disappointed about 2019, but look how far we have come. Fans are just dealing with the regular ups and downs of baseball.

  • From Jeff Passan:

    BREAKING: Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has lost his grievance against the team seeking an extra year of service, sources familiar with the ruling tell ESPN.

    Please tell me that it's finally over!

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    I think that It was always a show trial and the next agreement will find the issue to be an easy fix. Kris is on the clock again, both for possible trade and free agency.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Feels like they waited until Castellanos signed, unfortunately. I'm just excited to start the offseason!

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Castellanos was always a difficult fit $$wise.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    And positionally. I don't think the Cubs wanted to go Schwarber LF/Heyward CF/ Castellanos RF. That would be brutal defensively. He does have opt-outs after 2020 and 2021, so there is still a possibility if he wants to return, but I think we'd have to move Schwarber or J-Hey first.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    I agree w the problem defensively. I really hope someone else on the team fills that excitement vibe this team seems to have been missing. Don't get me wrong, I believe the Cubs are playing hard, but Nick brought a little something different that we haven't seen in awhile. For lack of a term, the " IT " factor.

    I am trying to be optimistic so I think a combo of Javy's swag along w Nico and Souza can replicate those intangibles.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    TWTW ;)

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Mike , all reports said Nicolas Castellanos was a bust defensively, but I didn't see it at Wrigley. There were a lot of right fielders that were not that good.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    I was watching the same thing. I hadn't seen him play much, but all reports were that he was horrible. When I saw him play here, I didn't see a butcher. I did see a lack of range and arm strength. He made some of the plays he was supposed to make, but not much more.

    I see the same thing about Schwarber on social media. People who haven't seen him play are certain he's only a DH, a lumbering embarrassment in LF because all they know is what they've read. That's why I like watching baseball.

  • fb_avatar

    So now that the grievance is settled how soon will we begin to hear the hot stove stories? Atlanta seems to be the most logical place for KB (if he is traded.) and spring training is only a few weeks away. With Nicy2bags signed is he the most sought after player left--assuming that Arenado stays with the Rockies?
    We need a CF. JHey can play a great RF but don't ask him to play CF full time, that hurts us in 2 positions, not just one.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Great article as usual BP. I been having a hard time posting from my phone but I been reading all your nice work for the past month +.

    Anyway JF, I am glad this damn grievance is over. It took enough time. I wish Atlanta was a logical place. With them signing of slugging Ozuna, they can afford to roll w Camargo and Riley at 3rd base. They have the security of the middle of the order bat w Ozuna. Sure he's no Bryant, but they now are not desperate and can make the Cubs come to them. We prob won't get the package we want from them, and you know Theo and co. want a top top top package for Bryant ( as they should) or they won't trade him.

    I think the Rangers and Nats are the frontrunners. I think an Arenado for Bryant swap is unlikely as it doesn't save the Cubs money for this year. Could you imagine a left side IF of Baez n Arenado ? How would a ball get through ? I think a sneaky dark horse is the Arizona D backs.........Some combo or Robinson/Thomas/Carroll/Perodomo ? With the Marte trade along w Signing Bumgarner ( we all know he's planning on them competing or he prob doesn't sign there ) the Dbacks "believe " they are real.

    My preference of course would be the Dodgers and we get Lux back, but those silly Dodgers seem to refuse to trade May or Lux. Plus they engage the Red Sox for Mookie where they would just have to take back Price and of course keep "untouchables" Lux and May.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Theo must have a fall back plan of some kind, or he wouldn't be bringing in Jeffress or Souza Jr.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Outside of a blockbuster, moving Q for a couple prospects or a cheap, young SP is the only thing that makes sense to me at this point. It still feels like they want to move salary or the lack of spending so far doesn't check out.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Good observation. As I alluded to, I've seen zero evidence there is any plan this offseason that doesn't include getting under $208M. If we were going over, we would have made more moves by now. We could enter the season around $10M over, as we are now, and hope to shed enough salary throughout the year, but that is an absolutely foolish gamble. I can't see a competent FO doing that.

    Again, this isn't solely the Ricketts being cheap. The penalties compound with repeated overages, and all offending teams in this structure periodically reset. With all the changes surrounding the organization, it makes sense to do it this season. As Theo famously asked when trading a package headlined by Gleyber Torres to aquire Chapman, "if not now, when?".

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Thanks, Jim. Everything I do is from a $30 Android phone, so I feel your pain. If you think comments are tough, try publishing articles. :)

    FWIW, I've heard in the last few hours that the Cubs have spoken with Colorado about a straight up Bryant-for-Arenado deal. Not a report of interest or a writer speculating about a possible scenario, but direct talks. Of course we talk to everyone, but there is something there.

    Arenado's relationship with upper management is broken, perhaps irreparably. He wants out, and has said he would love to play for the Cubs and will waive his no-trade clause for a deal to the North Side. Not all details are known, but COL is willing to eat $7-$8M per year on Arenado's contract in such a deal. It would basically be like signing KB to an extension, only with Arenado.

    I haven't done all the math, but if that deal were to go down and we still wanted to stay under the penalty threshold, we would have to shed some significant salary elsewhere. I've been hearing some version of this deal for a couple months now, but this is the first I've heard of direct talks and parameters. It would require a series of complex moves, which makes it highly unlikely (especially this close to spring), but this is the first time I actually think there could be something there.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    If that story is true that would make Arenado's AAV at ~$25M a year for the Cubs cost. That is a lot cheaper than what Bryant will be seeking. I'd do that swap if it is 1 for 1.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Arenado's contract is $35Mil per year through 2025. For this year only on a potential Bryant swap, there is a $16.4Mil salary gap.

    If we add that to the $10Mil we are over, and rounding up a little, we would need to shed $27Mil to get under the magic number.

    That seems hard to do unless it becomes a super creative, monster deal. Let's play around a little. If Heyward is included and Blackmon is included, the years left on their deals equal out with the Cubs saving an AAV of 1.5Mil, bringing the overage to $25.5Mil. Add Q (AAV at 6.64Mil), Chatwood (AAV at 12.66) and Almora (1.57) to the mix saves another 20.87Mil. They still need to shed another $4.62Mil. It seems like a long shot unless the Ricketts say go over on a straight 1 for 1 deal and find a way to get rid of Heyward and Chatwood.

    How does AAV work for a club if a team sends back dollars in a deal? Does the entire AAV count for the acquiring club or does a new AAV get set at AAV - dollars coming back?

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Thanks, that's informative. Everything is open to manipulation, which is why FO's have needs (and lobbyists), but normally if a team like COL were to eat some of Arenado's contract, the salary they offset is included in their budget. If the Rockies pay down $7-$8M per year, they are responsible for that amount on their docket, and the Cubs would be hit at approx. $27ishM for Arenado for our purposes. What they eat is deducted from our AAV.

    These things are tricky, and we'd have to get very creative.

    I mentioned a possible "holy s**t" move in the original article. This could be "holy s***************t". I'm not holding my breath, but this is more than speculation.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Actually it is closer to $25M in AAV for the Cubs. Arenado's AAV is $32.5M. So it is a little less but not much. That of course is if the Rockies paid $7-8M a year.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Where did you find the 32.5Mil number? I thought Arenado signed a 260Mil, 7 year deal. That works out to an AAV of $37.14Mil which is higher than the $35Mil I thought.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Spotrac and cots Cot's Baseball Contracts. It is for 8 years starting last year for $260M.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Baseball-Reference has Arenado's contract as a $260Mil, 7 year deal. It's strange that they would be off by a year. Thanks for the info.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Look again please, Baseball-Reference has it as an 8 year deal. 2019 was the first year.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Add up the last 8 years of salary on the Baseball-Reference table and it comes out to $260M. Just like the 2 other sites I mentioned.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I see where you are saying that. On the Contract page-Future payroll, B-R has his contract listed as 260Mil/7yrs. It seems they missed including the 2026 year contract. When I go to his player page, it is listed as an 8 year deal. Thanks again for clarifying.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    You're welcome. Glad I could help clarify.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Which is why FO's have "nerds", not "needs". I let typos slide, but not context.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think the most logical place for Bryant is he stays with the Cubs.

  • Bryant-Chatwood-Almora for Arenado-Daza

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Mlb network mentioned Bryant and Chatwood to make $ sense for the cubs. Almora and Chatwood would reduce salary by $15mil +$6 mil addition so a net redux of $9mil.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bleachercreature:

    I love Arenado and would love to see him everyday. The reports on Yonathan Daza are as a plus CF defender and has a good OBP in the minors.
    I'd do the deal and have one of our minor leaguers (Alzolay possibly) take Chatwood's place.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Not sure why Colorado would do that though. 2 years of Bryant, 1 year of Chatwood and a very below average player (Almora) for Arenado & Daza, who is a decent prospect? Plus money to offset the Arenado contract and another $20M in additional salary for Chatwood & Almora?
    That would be a very stupid trade for Colorado, IMO

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Yes. MLB Network is entertainment, not a reliable source.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Very true.
    I could see Colorado possibly doing the Arenado/Bryant swap though. The question would be how much money they would include to offset the $17 million dollar difference in this year's salary. And the Cubs would have to have another deal in place for either Chatwood or Quintana to get where they need to be salary wise.
    It'll be an interesting few weeks before spring training starts I believe

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Cant remember who on mlb this morning said that the rockies really liked chatwood. Apparently the Rockies have payroll flexibility.

  • I have to agree. Being so close to 208 mil and then adding another million or two with these recent major league signings makes no sense unless Theo is convinced he will be able to jettison enough salary to get under 208 mil. The only other explanation would be that they have abandoned that plan and are willing to go up to the next level which is something like 228 million. Of course we know that’s not the case or they could have signed one or two veteran relievers, or another position of need, for 5 or 6 million and still been under 228 million. Since this hasn’t happened I have to believe 208 is the target in which case one or more of Bryant, Quintana and maybe Heyward are in play.

  • Sorry, my comment was supposed to be in reply to 44slug.

  • fb_avatar

    This is what the Hot Stove League is all about--arguing about trades that probably will never get made.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Our offseason just started this morning. Pent-up aggression.

  • I'm always looking for a subject to write about. I enjoy teaching, but I'll admit that in the process I enjoy learning even more.

    The CBT tax is an oppressively dark hole of legalese, but right up my alley. It may be boring for fans who want to know "Who's on First", but I can see this being a major contributor to the moves we make in the next few weeks, before pitchers and catchers report. I think this angle is the biggest story of this offseason, to be honest (next to the FO shake-up, but that already happened). Understanding this balancing act can really put every click-bait report and speculative thought in perspective. I think it will drive every decision for the next two years, up until the new CBA.

    This is a large undertaking, but I'm up for it. It's a complex issue, but I could break it down to our specific situation. I would learn more than I teach, and I'm always cool with that.

    Any objections?

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    no objections

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Could we have a little more enthusiasm?

    Gimme a "C"!
    Gimme a "B"!
    Gimme a "T"!

    Yeeaaahh! Cubs!!

    This is some monotonous work, but I'll do it. I'm a nerd. It will take a couple days to do it right.

    Question: What is published first? My explanation of how the current CBT restraints are hamstringing our offseason plans or the "Cubs Trade Bryant To/For..." articles?

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    I'm literally working on this now. I don't know what theme to take: Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Working for MCA" or Floyd's "Money".

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    I voted, and I think we have a winner:

    "Oh, 9000 dollars, just to sow at the wind.
    But we smiled at the Yankee Slicker with a big ol' southern grin.
    They're gonna take me out to California gonna make me a superstar.
    Just pay me all of my money, mister, maybe you won't get a scar."

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Boring!

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Boring? Skynard or Floyd?

    I assume you mean the topic, how the CBT affects every single move we will make over the next 2 years. That is boring to some, I suppose.

    Can I make it exciting for you? I have always, ALWAYS, stayed out of the this-guy-for-that-guy trade scenario. Too much that I don't know, so I don't speculate. But the way I'm doing this piece, I'm doing exactly that. I'll show how the current payroll restrictions are hamstringing us, and I'm looking at how a few specific deals could work. This guy for that money, this control for that projection.

    Way out of my comfort zone.

    You're welcome.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Make it simple for those of us who read slowly. Actually, it's a very good idea MP for us to understand what everyone is talking about, and why we don't want to exceed the CBT tax for 3 years in a row.
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    That's funny, Jonathan. I saw someone on twitter today who honestly didn't understand a complex debate and admitted: "explain it to me as if I were a 5-year-old".

    That takes courage. We're not born knowing this stuff, and some of us are curious.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Go for it, BP.

    My first take is that you should make the piece a 3-parter. First dive into the CBA and explain the penalties and such. I think that will long and intense enough. Second, explain how the CBT directly affects the Cubs and the current payroll. Third, speculate! Splitting it up will make it easier for commenting.

    I copied a piece from MLBTR a while back, detailing the penalties for the Cubs if they continue to exceed the CBT, but I never found a good thread to post it in.

    Looking forward to it!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    You read my mind? That's almost exactly what I have planned. It can be such a mundane topic, but examples and real-world applications can make it more palatable. This whole insane KB-for-Arenado thing can be used as a learning experience.

    It can be boring, but part of the fun of being a knowledgeable fan, to me, is anticipating future moves. The more you know, the better your chances of correctly calling what will happen next. You share with other fans and see who is right, or closest to it.

    It is satisfying when you're correct, and that is how you gain trust and respect of your opinion.

  • fb_avatar

    It's the same thing I think we were all told as kids--ask a question because if you're thinking that then most likely others are too. I'm never ashamed to 1) ask a question when I don't understand something and 2) ask someone their name if I've forgotten it. I tell my wife that if someone comes up to me and I don't introduce her then I forgot their name, and in the town I used to live I worked at the library for 30 years and many, many people know my name so this comes up fairly often.

  • OK, I'll ask a question. Lester is set to receive $25M this year with a hit to the CBT based upon the AAV of his original 2015 6-year deal. Cubs have an option for 2021 at $10M. Suppose Lester agrees to tear up this year's contract, and sign a four-year deal (ages 37-40, I know, but play along) for $19M in 2020, $12M in 2021, $12M in 2022, and $1M in 2023. Yu tacked on a year at $1M to lower the AAV so we know that part is cool. New deal has an AAV of $11M.
    Can the Cubs count Lester at $11M for 2020? or at $19M instead of $25M, or do they back $6M ($25-$19) out of the 2015 deal and lower the hit for 2020 by only $1M? Either way, should be worth some current relief, and the additional years are theoretically mutually reasonable unless he's totally toast, so let's pretend neither MLB nor MLBPA object.
    Lester picks up $19M net of new guaranteed money for 2-3 late 30's years with Ross getting whatever is left in the tank out of him.
    PLEASE only respond on the CBT rules, NOT your opinion of the merits of the signing. It is meant to be an example, not a recommendation.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    I think this is why?
    Clubs cannot reduce players' salaries by more than 20 percent of what they earned in the previous MLB season -- including a player's base salary and additional payments such as performance bonuses, signing bonuses and deferred compensation -- or 30 percent of what they earned two seasons prior, per the Maximum Salary Reduction clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I thought that was only during the pre-arb years when the clubs can act unilaterally. Or for arbitration offers.
    Obviously if they exercise the 2021 option it would be for 60% less than he's making this year. Similarly, final year of Darvish contract is a huge decline from the first five years.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Not completely sure on this, but I believe the total new money would be added to what is left & divided by the total number of years. But Lester's option for next year is $25M with a $10M buyout. And I don't think they could "tear up" the existing contract, so they would need to pay him those amounts. So, in your example, they would owe him $25M for this year and 2021, then $12M & $1M for 2022 and 2023. So total money would be $63M over 4 years, or $15.75M per for CBT.

  • Strop to Reds for 1.8+ mil. We can't even afford Pedro.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I'm happy for Strop and not disappointed. We will see if he has anything left.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Ditto here 44. I would have loved to see him back for the Cubs this season,... but I hope he has a solid season - against everybody but our Cubs.

  • Good for the Reds. After he blows a couple od saves, they will be calling him Pedro Stroke !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Nah, if I ever think of a Strop nickname here on Cubs Den, it'll be "Old Bang Bang".

    I know that was originally intended to be a jab, and I'm sure that creator is glad to see him gone.

    I found it hilarious, and used it myself.

    Good luck Pedro, easily a top-5 Cubs reliever in my 40 years of fandom.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    He's not their closer. And when healthy he's still pretty darn good. Reds are going to be tough.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    He’s a replacement level player. I doubt he makes any significant positive contributions. Do you want him on cubs roster? Curious as to why.

  • fb_avatar

    In a nutshell the off season is about the FO gambling that the same players will play better under Ross than Madden.

  • In reply to Doug Matacio:

    They haven't found the value they're looking for in a trade. Teams think the cubs have to move a star. They don't. I'm glad they are holding strong. The farm isn't empty! They probably do need to move a little money though or the cheap pickups so far don't make sense.

  • In reply to Doug Matacio:

    Here is the thing about Maddon and managers, in general. They usually have a shelf life. The front office hired Joe Maddon to be Joe Maddon. He was fabulously successful, but keeping a manager a year too long at the helm is like keeping a starting pitcher in the game an inning too long. Often it does not end well. Ross is a rookie manager and a learning curve should be expected.

  • Rosenthal's article today in Athletic makes a good case for Bryant to Atlanta.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    It's all in slow motion these days.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I read that too. Atlanta has always been the best match, it seems. But Atlanta will not give up their top prospect, Pache, or their top two young pitchers Fried and Anderson. The Cubs are probably asking for at least one of those three. The question then becomes, would Atl offer guys like Waters, Kyle Wright and Austin Riley. I'm not a scout or GM, but I'd probably take those three for Bryant. But...my guess is Atlanta would only give up two of those three & throw in Inciarte to help offset Bryant's contract. So, then the ball is back in the Cubs hand. Is that enough to trade possibly your best player?

  • No, it shouldn't enough for two years of Bryant. I have read Braves want to keep both Pache, & Waters.

    I'm not a baseball writer, but I think we can all see how Bryant would be an incredible fit into Braves lineup for 2020/21.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    This where Theo will earn his money. The Rangers are in play. Unfortunately they just don’t have enough to sway Theo. Dodgers are also in play. They have the players to get a deal done. How much will they be willing to deal with us is the real question. I also believe the Padres and Phillies are in play. If trading an MVP is determined a must, then the Gail has to be immense. I would think it to be foolish to have a star play out a season and bail like Gerrit Cole just did. I get he was brought in to deliver a championship. But to get nothing for Bryant would be brutal.

    I know the popular choice among fans is to have arms come back. I am not in that camp. I would like 3 high ceiling bats. One of them has to be a CF. And one has to be a middle infielder. The other would preferably be a 3B, but not 100% certain. I believe we have some quality arms coming up and with Lester, Quintana, and Chatwood coming off the books there will be money to go after a TOR type.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Makes sense, I think that the Cubs/Braves trade is such an obvious fit. They have the quality excess parts needed and Bryant would fill up their 'just a bit short' everyday lineup. Both orgs will regret not acting on this win win.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I agree, teams with big payrolls buy/trade for established top pitchers. I also think Cubs should focus on loading up on the best young hitters in trades. Even if that means Cubs only end up getting lower valued pitching prospects as the third or fourth piece in trades. Young pitchers, even stud prospects rarely develop into quality top two type starters, or closers.

    Teams seem to value their pitching prospects, and hold onto them much more tightly than hitting prospects. I remember Theo saying during the rebuild, Cubs always want to get some pitching coming back in a trades.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    If young pitchers rarely develop into quality starters, then where do all these studs come from?

    I am being a little snarky, but also serious. Of course young pitchers develop into 1-2 starters--it just takes longer sometimes. I think your point is that less often do pitching prospect become 1-2 SP's as quickly as hitting prospects can make big impacts.

    The problem with building a pitching staff with all FA and trades is exactly the one the Cubs have now.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I hear you JohnCC. I think high end hitting prospects are easier to find, and a higher percentage of them pan out when compared to high end pitching prospects.

    I'm actually very excited about the Cubs future. I think the front office is much better today than it was 5 years ago! The Cubs front office is pretty good at developing bats, making trades for prospects, and making midseason trades. I believe the Cubs are focused on getting good at what good small market clubs do well. Finding surplus value from unexpected places, most seasons.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    “All” — you mean like maybe 45 in the game out of a few thousand that have failed while those top end guys have pitched? The attrition rate is much higher. Those top end guys are just hard to find and develop.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    same can be said for elite hitters. top end hitters are hard to find and develop

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    No. 8 positions across the field makes it far easier to find a top notch hitter than a TOR pitcher.

  • Just for fun, and why not? an entertaining parody song from Danny Rockett of the Bleachers Bums Band. Or, as some call it, "Drinking and Singing of Ednel".

    "Javy Be Goode"

    https://youtu.be/YlZH5lxXVv8

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Or the enhanced version, once the money rolled in and the alcohol wire off:

    https://youtu.be/KZjNgESBFM4

  • I absolutely love the trades between Boston-LAD-Twins and LAD-LAA. Those were well constructed deals that made each team either better or more competitive in the long run.

    I'd love to see the same type deal involving Bryant and Heyward. I doubt it will ever happen. Even if paying half of Heyward's deal, that would save $29Mil this year, potentially $36Mil next year, which is a reset and just enough to pay Mookie $35Mil per year when he becomes a FA.

  • Anybody else just feel like enjoying the next 2 seasons of KB and accepting the comp pick when he leaves? Obviously if things really don't go well this year (W-L and young pitching doesn't emerge for 2021 to replace Q and Lester) then take what you can get for him next offseason. But the way I see it, this is still a playoff team. I know Almora took a step back last year but if he can rebound and make a good platoon in CF with Happ, there's no need to "restock".

    I'm ready for this to be torn to shreds but I have no sports right now (outside of the illini) so go for it.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    I trade a Bryant with absolute same parameters Boston used with Betts and including Price. The Bryant trade absolutely had to involve Heyward. I know it lessens what cubs would receive in return but it is necessary. Clears the cubs books going forward.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I'm on the other side of the fence. I don't see the benefit to getting less for Bryant in a trade, while still paying half of Heyward's remaining salary.

    Bryant should be the first of a few deals that will happen over the next year or so.

    Boston trade of Betts, & Price was nothing more than a salary dump. Boston cut approximately $43 million in 2020 payroll to get under the luxury tax penalty.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Dodgers better not blink. Boston's only other offer is Padres & it's less appealing compared to LA.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Boston saves $43Mil in payroll for 2020. They reset the Tax Penalty.
    Boston gets a 3 WAR player with 5 years of team control and PECOTA lowers their projected win total from 87.5 to 86.5. That is a no brainer of a trade from Boston's perspective.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I am not sure why you call it a no brainer trade from Boston's perspective. Boston traded away a future hall of famer in his prime. That's a tough trade to make.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Betts has this year left on his contract and stated he was going to test FA. He turned down a 10 year, $300Mil deal to stay. That's what players work hard to achieve and I'm glad for Betts that he wants to go that route and maximize his payday. I can't begrudge a player for that no more I begrudge an owner for wanting to maximize their paydays. While Boston reportedly eats half of Price's remaining deal, there is still $15Mil per year off the books for the next 3 years. And, Boston can still sign Betts when he gets to FA in a year. That's about as no brainer of a call as there is for a team trying to get under the Tax Penalty line.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Doing a trade like that makes the team worse but puts more money in the owners pocket.
    Big pass - keep Bryant and try to win

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Currently constructed and the improvements made by other teams in division, I don’t see a playoff team here. Also just curious as to padding the owners pockets, are you going to subscribe to the marquee network?

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