Let’s round up some of today’s news and notes as we head into the weekend…
On the heels of Mauricio’s great bullpen piece today, Chris Cotillo writes that the Cubs are one of 4 teams interested in Edward Mujica. On the surface, Mujica looks like a major addition based on his 37 saves and 2.78 ERA but those numbers may have him a bit overvalued. Mujica’s strength is his excellent control, as evidenced by a career ratio of 1.39 walks per 9 IP. Last year he averaged less than a walk per 9 IP (0.70). That alone should draw the Cubs attention as their bullpen currently features some good arms but a lot of inexperience and some potential control issues.
Mujica would probably be in the closer mix given his experience and if he wins it, he gives the Cubs more time to evaluate Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and Hector Rondon as candidates for the long term role. If he does not win the closer role, then he offers an excellent insurance policy in case one of the young arms falters in that role. The Cubs were left scrambling for a closer to solidify the back end of the bullpen last year before finding Kevin Gregg off the scrap heap. Mujica would give them that kind of veteran stability from day one. It is not a huge signing but in some ways it’s an indicator that the Cubs don’t intend for their bullpen to give games away early in the season as they did last year.
The other teams involved are the Phillies, Orioles, and Indians according to Cotillo but the Cubs may have a built in advantage as Jed Hoyer had a previous working relationship with Mujica when both were with the Padres in 2010.
If the Cubs cannot land Mujica, another interesting option may be Andrew Bailey, who is a non-tender candidate with the Red Sox.
David Schoenfield of ESPN believes that the Cubs should sign Jacoby Ellsbury. He believes Ellsbury could fill that table setting role and with the Cubs having little in terms of long term payroll obligations, the time to invest would be now. Next year’s market offers even less potential to add an impact player. I surveyed some in the industry and media and for the most part, the response was that this was not a good fit for the Cubs. This is not to say the Cubs should not spend at all, but most agreed there are better fits. Masahiro Tanaka continues to be my favorite as a Cubs big dollar signing and for the most part, that sentiment was echoed by those around baseball.
Peter Gammons reports that the Cubs are in no real hurry to trade Jeff Samardzija. Gammons writes,
The Cubs endgame on Jeff Samardzija is to let the market play out. Several teams including the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays have called on the righthander who will be 29 come January 25, but the Cubs’ feeling is that when the Masahiro Tanaka posting saga has played itself out and the free agent scrum has cleared, Samardzija and Tampa Bay’s David Price will be the jewels of the market. And their trades will lead us to and probably past Groundhog Day.
I think it makes sense. The Cubs know that there is little else in terms of young talented pitchers with cost control on the trade market. There is no need to rush into any kind of deal. And if the two sides have a breakthrough in contract negotiations in the meantime, who’s to say that’s a bad thing? Samardzija, as noted many times, i is being heavily pursued by a number of teams. Consistency remains an issue but he is athletic and his stuff is top of the line. Despite his struggles in the second half, some believe they saw some improvement in the big RHP last year.
Of course, this all depends on whether or not the Cubs can sign Samardzija. It’s one thing to say you want to keep Samardzija at value with the Cubs long term and quite another to say you want to gamble that the Cubs can either win or re-sign him at the end of two years. The trade value will be high this offseason, but it will begin to diminish as he loses some cost control and eventually, the ability to recoup a draft pick if the Cubs wait until the last year of his deal.
Extending the time frame means the Cubs are willing to wait out a better deal while giving the two sides another chance to come to terms.
Starlin Castro and Javier Baez
One more interesting tidbit to Gammons’ piece is the statement that the Cubs are convinced Javier Baez will remain a shortstop. It echoes what Jason McLeod has said about Baez’s future defensive position. Gammons states that if that holds true it will force the Cubs to make a decision on Starlin Castro sometime in the near future.
Filed under: Uncategorized