As trade deadline nears, rumors will fly...but ignore deadline hype. Follow the pattern.

The Cubs seasons under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are essentially split seasons.  The first 3 months are about evaluation and the search for long term parts among their prospects and bargain signings.  The next one is about cashing in short term parts for potential long term pieces, and the last 2 are playing with a gutted roster that accomplishes two things: 1) the chance to evaluate new young players for the future and 2) the likely poor short term results that have a silver lining – a  protected pick in the draft.

That has been the pattern and hopefully this will be the last year Cubs fans will have to endure those excruciating last 2 months.  Despite being one of the largest markets in sports they quietly disappear in August and September.  They will become largely irrelevant to most of the baseball world as the focus turns to the playoffs.  The trade deadline that precedes these 2 months is pretty much the last time the Cubs get any national media attention.  It’s their last chance to cash in on the Cubs.

Because of that, we can expect rumors to fly around this time.  The Cubs made their big splash on July 4th, however, and there simply isn’t much left to trade other than spare parts that won’t move the needle much.  What you often get instead is trade deadline hype.  This hype, whether willful or not, ignores the Cubs patterns of the past 3 years, which is to trade off short-term parts for long term gain.   They do not pay premium long term value for short term gain.  They also do not trade talented cost-controlled young veterans for prospects.

The one exception to the latter would be the Anthony Rizzo-Andrew Cashner deal, but the Cubs made that exception because they felt they were getting significant surplus value.  They had doubts as to whether Cashner could hold up long term as a starter.  So far that judgment look prescient as, by the end of the season. Rizzo projects to have double the wins above replacement over Cashner since the deal was made — not to mention that Cashner is injured once again.  It was a calculated gamble that seems to have paid off for now.

So when you hear rumors that don’t fit the plan, you should doubt it.  When you hear a rumor that the Cubs may trade Jake Arrieta to the Yankees, ask yourself if it fits the Cubs pattern.  Ask yourself if the Yankees even have the parts to acquire a Jake Arrieta.  Even if the Yankees did have the parts, would they sell off a huge part of their cost-controlled talent for a still to be established pitcher? Or, as a team that looks to win now with a shallow farm system, would it make more sense for them to get an established pitcher cheaper on a rental?

David Kaplan squashed this rumor earlier today,

This from a great source who is an NL scout. “We called Theo and asked about Jake Arietta and we were told they will NOT move him. Period.”

This is not to say that teams wouldn’t want Jake Arrieta.  Of course they would.  But what it really comes down to is appropriate value and the individual goals of the teams involved.  As a cost-controlled pitcher in his prime with his best years ahead of him, Arrieta has a ton of value to the Cubs.  If you are going to acquire him, you are going to have to pay them dearly for those future years.  If you’re a win-now team, why pay that premium when you are mostly concerned about the next 2 months?

I’ve made this argument for Luis Valbuena, it goes tenfold for someone like Arrieta.  In a nutshell, unless a team is willing to pay significant surplus,  their value to the Cubs is simply more than they will get in return.  Historically, that is a premium that contending teams will pay only for established impact talent.

When it comes to following previous patterns, the same works true in reverse.  Why would the Cubs trade long term assets at this point to acquire a short term piece at this point in the rebuild?  Why would the Cubs give up so much of their long term value to acquire a pitcher who is signed for another year and two months like David Price?

The answer is they wouldn’t.

Bob Nightengale put that rumor to rest today,

The #Cubs have zero interest in trading for #Rays David Price now, #Cubs executive says, wanting to hang onto their prized prospects.

This should have been obvious to any Cubs fan that has been paying attention and following the pattern of this front office.  Put in it’s simplest form, the team will not sacrifice the long term for the short term until it feels it is ready to compete.  Could that change?  Yes, of course it can change.  It will change.  But it hasn’t changed yet.  Until then, the Cubs will err on the side of long term thinking, as any responsible rebuilding team should.

A time will come when the Cubs will be willing to sacrifice some long term value for short term gain, but that long term value will come from an area of depth.  And as much as the Cubs system has received raves from all around baseball, they do not yet have depth.  They will not have true depth until some of those prospects become MLB players.  It is premature to make deals based on minor-league depth charts because you do not yet know what you really have.

The Cubs have time to sort that out and if over the course of the next year, the picture begins to clear and it appears the Cubs have a chance to compete, they can reconsider breaking the pattern they have established the past 3 years.

If you really want to get excited about adding veteran talent, wait for this offseason.  And if you want to look for a major deal that will affect the Cubs, then consider this pattern:  The Cubs have been willing to bid for top free agent pitchers who are traded mid-season.  Why?  Because it doesn’t cost them a draft pick.

We saw this 2 offseasons ago when the Cubs heavily pursued Anibal Sanchez, even outbidding the Tigers for his services but losing out for non-financial reasons.  They continued the pattern with their plan B and signed Edwin Jackson, who was not given the qualifying offer and thus did not require draft pick compensation.  That didn’t work out for the Cubs but the reasoning was sound.  They only lost money on that deal.  The deal, as frustrating as it has been for Cubs fans. doesn’t hurt the organization long term.

So don’t look for the Cubs to trade for David Price or to trade away Jake Arrieta.  If you really want something to watch this trade deadline, look for something like a Jon Lester or Justin Masterson deal — to someone else.  Then watch them if they become unrestricted free agents this offseason.  Additionally, it fits another pattern in that this front office is very familiar with both players (as they were with Sanchez), so there is a comfort level there we know they have preferred in the past.  The Cubs front office team have continued to track their former farmhands and have reportedly scouted both pitchers.  There are some reports they’ve also had internal discussions, but I think it’s due diligence and with an eye for this coming winter.  Let someone else mortgage their future prospects and then swoop in with what is currently the Cubs less hyped, but perhaps equally valuable asset, which is short term payroll flexibility.

If you really want to know that the Cubs will do, don’t follow the deadline hype.  Follow their patterns.

Filed under: Rumors/Speculation

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  • Indeed, stay the course...

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    MLBTR:

    Rosenthal noted that some in the industry expect the Cubs to make an attempt to land Price. A Cubs executive tells USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link), however, that Chicago has “zero interest” in acquiring Price now since the team prefers to hang onto its highly-regarded prospects.

    YESS!!

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Agreed. A resounding "YES!"

    Of course - that still won't shut down some of the rumor-mongering.

    I mean really,..... what on earth do the Yankees have in return for Arrieta that the Cubs would want?

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    it doesn't matter what they have - Arietta is the kind of guy the Cubs would be asking for. Trading Arietta is a giant step sideways unless you get unreasonably surplus value.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Nada.

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    Hahaha, I just posted something on the last article about a possible trade for Price. Thanks for your article. Di you happen to see my post about the BP chart that shows that the Cubs will be about $41 million below league average next year?

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/?team=CHN

    Gotta believe that some of that money can be used this winter to go after Jon Lester and/or James Shields......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Thanks. I did not see the piece yet, but that is definitely what I am talking about when it comes to payroll flexibility being the Cubs most underrated asset right now.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I really hope they go after and get Jon Lester in the offseason

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    I know money talks but the cubs will have to really sell a Lester type guy to come to Chicago or are they better off waiting one more year to see where the puzzle comes together. Then it will be a easier self. I just think the club will have a hard time going from 62-68 wins to 90 wins on prospects alone.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    David Price disagrees with you.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    David price won't be a cub. More of a PR move for price

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Having Theo and Jed running the show, with their past relationship with Lester I feel makes that sales pitch a lot easier to make. It's pretty obvious that the annual mid season roster sell off has run its course.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    The Cubs for once are the team perfectly situated to take advantage of a fire sale. Now we need a team to combust.

  • Lester will most likely stay or resign with Boston, I don't think Shields is much better than Hammel at this point.

    Looking at Verlander, CC, and others, do you really want to pay big bucks for starting pitching? I realize you have to spend somewhere, but the market is not exactly bearing fruit.

    If Addison Russell can get Shark and Hammel, then Baez could bring in a couple of nice starting pitchers. We have plenty of nice pieces in the minors and could trade a couple of them without depleting the system much.

    As for Price, you could trade for him, then flip him again if your out next year, but why trade so much prospect depth for one year of a pitcher?

    Price could want to extend, but it's going to be an overpay no matter how you look at it. I realize there is a time and place to overpay, and it may be soon, but personally it scares me to invest too much in pitching.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    From what I understand, Lester's future with the Red Sox is very much in the air right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I've read that too, but I've also read how much he "says" he wants to stay there, but that could be posturing.

    He is one of a very few pitchers I do hope the Cubs get if it's through free agency this off-season.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I have heard he want to test FA from an excellent source.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I didn't read that. I've heard it from outside the media. Two different things.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Based partly on Twitter, it sounds like the Dodgers. Good news-bad news situation. Good news: no qualifying offer. Bad news: if one team in baseball can throw money at him and keep him off the market, it's LA.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's the fly in the ointment.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    He gone. I know he stated that he would give a home town discount but that offer they gave was a slap in the face. And they know what it would take to get him signed yet they just delay and say it's Jon Lester's camp they wants to hold off.

    Ya, I'm sure if Boston had a contract for $20 million a year for 5 years in front of John Lester, they player would just ask to wait until the winter because he wants to stay focused on help this team get to the playoffs right now..... Com'on, sell that crap elsewhere Boston!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I could see the Cubs making a run at signing Lester this offseason and Price during the next offseason. This payroll flexibility does not need to be spent all at one time. This would also give the front office another year to decide if Price would be worth the huge financial commitment it would take to sign him. It is obvious that neither pitcher will provide surplus value to any team they sign with. Holding onto the right prospects (that will provide the Cubs with surplus value in the future) affords them an advantage (compared to other clubs) in regards to their ability to allocate funds to TOR free agent pitchers. Deciding which players are "worth" cashing in this payroll flexibility for is the hard part and why Theo and Jed make the big bucks.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    Absolutely, spread it out. And if the Cubs make a major move forward in 2015 then a free agent like Price would make a lot of sense.

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    In reply to rdacpa:

    But if Price is in fact traded, I would expect the team that gets him to make a push to sign him long term. You don't give up the farm for a guy unless you are pretty sure you can extend him. Either that or you are a GM looking for another line of work.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I would reserve judgment on that until we see which team acquires Price (if any) and if they would trade him for prospects during the offseason or at the deadline next year. Granted the return on both of these potential subsequent trades would be less than what would be given up currently. However, you have the value assigned to Price's impact for two playoff runs factored in his acquisition cost right now. I would presume that any team acquiring Price right now would love for the acquisition to come with a contract extension, but his collectively-bargained right to free agency should not preclude a front office from acquiring him if value can be recouped (in one form or another) in the future.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    If I were Price, I wouldn't agree to resign with any team until I see what happens this offseason and who will compete with me in FA 2015. If it is barren, then I am going to be a free agent.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    First off, it took Russell & McKinney (two legit prospects) plus Straley, a proven MLB pitcher in a down year to get Shark & Hammel. Russell may have been the headliner, just like Shark, but the other pieces are significant too.

    Secondly, why on earth give up a dearth of premium prospects just to try to flip Price? I assure you, this FO does NOT possess that gamblers mentality. I'd be shocked if they gave up any of our prospects until we are just a piece or two away from competing. But even if they shocked the world and made a run at Price, it would be contingent on him signing an extension...

    At this point in the rebuild we are set up to absorb an overpay in dollars, not an overpay in prospects. Right now, Price would be both... No thanks!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    We are in agreement.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Not sure if Straily considered a proven pitcher after one average year in Oakland. Hope he can become a proven pitcher.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    He won 10 games with a sub 4 ERA as a rookie. Hoyer is on record as saying that he thought he was an excellent reclamation project for Bosio and figures into their SP rotation plans next year going forward.

    No one expects him to be more than a back of the rotation piece, but he's young, cost controlled, and has been effective at the MLB level. We can split hairs over what defines proven if you want, but he's not an insignificant piece. Many have referred to T Wood as proven, albeit inconsistent. Yet, his best year (last year) was not as good as Strailey's.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I get cost controlled and a good project. But point was not considered a proven. 10-8 record and 3.98 era is a average season. Bottom line do it longer.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I'll take that as an 'average season' for a Rookie,..... something to build upon.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    The point is 1 average year doesn't make you a proven mlb player.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    A friendly nudge, Hoosier, but I don't think dearth means what you think it means.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Inconceivable!

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Stop it you two, I mean it....does anybody have a peanut?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    iPhone autocorrect from a mis spelled "Depth" lol...

  • It you trade Baez and Castro for pitchers, you could still have infield of Rizzo, Alcantara, Russell, Bryant. Just sayin'.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    We're still a year or two early from trading away any of our Middle infielders.

    But when we are ready., why keep the worst one? Alcantara doesn't have the defensive profile at /SS2B as either of them two and his offensive ceiling is questionable compared to Castro's proven levels. Baez is not even in the same conversation offensively.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree that we're a year or two away from a trade. In that trade(s), you need TOR pitching. Everyone's over the moon about Baez' ceiling so he'll bring back more value. In the long run I have more faith in Alcantara having a solid career and in a year or two we'll have an idea if that's warranted.

  • Would be interesting if the Cubs became the third team in a three team deal in order to facilitate the movement of one of these TOR starters and then signed that same TOR in the offseason.

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    In reply to Henry Loose:

    Even if we didn't sign the TOR starter I like being the 3rd team in a 3-team deal. Suddenly just to square things for 2 "heavy weights" we get significant value for players like Valbuena, Russell, Wright, potentially more so than if we just trade them straight up since the bulk of value would be provided by the "big name" players being swapped.

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    I realize pitching is not something that just anyone can walk up and start doing, but I wonder if there's been any thought to trying out some of our young hitting wash-outs on a mound. Vitters and BJax have outfielders arms, they should be able to throw fastball/changeup for one inning every other day; Barney, even. They're on the verge of being let go for nothing, might as well see if there is some value there.
    I would also dearly like to see Neil Ramirez stretched out for starting work.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    That'd be more likely to happen with someone like Bijan Rademacher, who is in Daytona but is a lefty who has reached 95 mph as a pitcher.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Cubs did that with Kyler Burke , there 2009 Minor League POY 3 years ago. He ended up with arm problems.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    Little late in the developmental process for those two. And I don't think the childish vitters has the make up for the mound. Not many guys get sent home from winter ball because their attitude is as bad as their play, but Vitters found a way.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    I doubt that these conversions will work (Position player to pitcher). An "outfielder's arm" is more focused on distance than speed or accuracy (and they aren't known to be particularly accurate). Also, none of them have pitched significantly in their lives. Most successful conversions take place EARLY in the player's career (closer to late teens, maybe 20) and include players who do seem to throw harder than others, perhaps with greater accuracy, things like that. I don't think you can just take a struggling player, put them on the mound and say, "Just throw fastballs and change-ups...Oh year, and you have to have very similar, if not the same, arm speed for both." My guess is that they would be throwing in the low-80's with little control and almost no command. Could they do "mop-up" work in a 20-inning game or a 15-1 loss? Maybe, but I wouldn't consider that to be a new skill as much as willingness to be the sacrificial lamb.

  • Great read and spot on. As Fels would write, "Onwards."

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    Thank you.

  • Don't trade any top prospect at least until July 2015
    Don't sign any player over 30 years to more than a 3 yr contract
    Don't over pay for any player unless under 30

  • What many people don't understand is that the cubs actually have great pitching depth. It's just that they are pitching in Detroit, Boston, and Tampa Bay. They will also be brought up over the next two years along with the other core four players.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    HaHa!!!?!!! I hope you're right!

    As an org., we actually have great pitching depth now. It's just that it's all at the A level and below minus a few power RP's and CJ/PJ.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    Ha! Interesting way to put it.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    It's like "just-in-time" inventory management. Acquire them when you need them.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    ^5 ThinBlueLine

  • I'm beginning to think Castro will be the one eventually traded for pitching. I totally agree that there is no reason to do this anytime in the near future. However, assuming Baez plugs into 2B and Bryant stays at 3B, there will be a jam at SS. Russel has really gotten me excited with his play of late. I believe he has the potentially to be better than Castro defensively and offensively. The problem is that moving a veteran to a different position could get messy and moving Castro would lower his value. But with this said, I think you keep everyone until you are positive that Russel will be a better SS than Castro and that Bryant can stick at 3B.

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    In reply to Peter Chicago:

    Many believe that Bryant won't be up until May or June of next season due to the extra year of control. What if we see Bryant start to play a little OF next Spring at Iowa. How does that fit into the big picture?

    You just don't move a guy like Baez or Bryant to another position unless there may be a chance he ends up there in the long term. I'd be looking for signs of what this FO thinks with guys like Bryant and Schwaber next Spring.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Bryant's ability to play 3B or not will be key to the entire makeup of future rosters. If he can play good defense at 3B than I believe Castro could be the odd man out depending on Baez's and Russel's progression. But if he can't stick at 3B than one of Soler/AA/Almora/Schwarber(if he can't play at C)/Mckinney could be trade bait since there is only so much room in the OF.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Bryant would have to only be down for about two weeks to get that extra year of control.

    The Super Two date would be the June date. That has to do with future dollars as opposed to years of control.

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    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Well if you're gonna keep they guy down at Iowa, you may as well wait until the Super 2 date. My point was more about what position all these guys will eventually play. Many would love to see Russell, Castro, Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Alcantara, Almora, Schwaber, and Soler all in the same lineup. But I'm not of that school because unless one of those guys learns how to pitch or the NL adopts the DH, we just ain't gonna see it.

    Let's not forget the crowd that also sees Vogelbach as a possible DH or Jacob Hannemann as the top of the order guy we really need. And what about Billy McKinney who looks like the real deal in the Daytona outfield. But then there's Mark Zagunis, Shawon Dunston Jr and others that can handle a bat. Let's just get them all in the lineup......

    But let's not under no circumstance trade any of these guys for pitching of any kind! Ya, hold on tight so that we never make a mistake again and trade away what might be Lou Brock.......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Well I'm not one that buys into the theory that if you hold him down for two weeks you might as well wait until 70 some odd games to call them up.

    What happens if it's mid-June and the season is already lost? Do you wait until 2016 to bring him up? Some people think it's meaningless to bring them up if they're playing meaningless games which could be a real possibility next June if we continue to trot out a bottom 5 offense and don't replenish the rotation.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Lou Brock... Lol

    They are going to trade several good players away in the future. That's just a fact we'll have to get used to. Abner Doubleday only established 8 other positions besides pitcher. :-)

  • Of those available arms in this off-season, who do you think are the most likely targets for the Cubs? Lester has been great so far this year, and so has Scherzer. Shields concerns me, though, for his age as well as his mediocrity. To me he is a number 2, which is great, but when he starts his inevitable decline in the coming years he won't be much better than what the Cubs have in system.

    What are the thoughts on Masterson and Maeda?

  • In reply to Spiggydogg:

    Stay away from Masterson. Hes Zambrano 2.0 in the sense of consistency. Terrible against lefties and his command is all over the place. Maeda wont even be the best pitcher in Japan soon. They have a 19yo kid over there who throws 100mph(and stands like about 6'7"). Maeda might be a worthwhile 3 year contract. Lester would likley be better.

  • John,

    Do you think the FO will shy away from the free agent pitchers attached to a comp draft pick this winter?

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    I do think it will be a very big factor. The Cubs can maybe make up for it by acquiring comp balance picks.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    Wouldn't the Cubs be in a better position to sign a free agent with a compensation pick attached than the 20 other clubs that do not have a protected first round pick? The slot amount for a pick in the late thirties is roughly half of the amount for the 11th pick. Granted, there is not as much disparity between picks at the end of the first round and where the Cubs second round pick would be. This would be an instance where if the Cubs decided a free agent with a compensation pick attached makes sense, it would cost them less this year then it would in the future (hopefully).

  • Some say this FO doesn't have a gambler's mentality when it comes to trades. It's somewhat true; however, what they do gamble at is holding off on trades with a belief they can improve the value of a trade asset. They did this with Garza, when they didn't think they were getting full value in 2012 and that off-season. They did the same with Castillo (perhaps wrongly) this past off-season. And they did the same with Shark and Marmol in the last two off-seasons. (Shark rightly, Marmol wrongly.)

    Give this FO credit. They set a value to their players and aren't willing to budge until that bar is met or exceeded.

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    So I have been thinking about this a lot and wanted some opinions. I feel like the Cubs blew it with Darwin Barney. (I think) They could have traded him last winter or this spring when he still had value and used other replacement level players to play second (aka Valbuena.) I know hind sight is 20/20 and I am not being critical of the management whom I fell is doing an excellent job. No one wins them all. Am I wrong here?

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    In reply to Brandon Halford:

    Barney didn't have much value last Winter either. He had a bad year last year as well. He only hit above his weight and no Gold Glove.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/barneda01.shtml

  • In reply to Brandon Halford:

    I don't think Barney had any value last year either. They did it this year because of Alcantara and they needed the roster spot. I don't they needed that last year.

  • Barney traded as I am sure you all heard. I am not in a hurry to write an article, as I am sure the impact will be minimal and we knew he was gone anyway.

    We can discuss it here for now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    do we know who we are getting in return?

  • In reply to Csanad:

    PTBNL

  • In reply to Csanad:

    Hopefully a good, young, A-level or A+-level arm in return.

    And I wish Darwin a good run in LA.

  • In reply to Csanad:

    Maybe just salary relief. At best a fringe prospect. Nothing to get too excited about either way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Likely John - Hopefully somebody with some upside, or somebody that would benefit from a change of scenery into the Cubs system.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    not salary relief, as the Cubs are sending cash. Might be someone along a Corey Black level.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    I mean, the prorated portion of his salary this year is < 1 mil. If the cubs are sending cash with him, how much salary relief could we really be talking about - a quarter to a half mil? paper clip money. If the Cubs really need that kind of salary relief then Wittenmeyer has been right all along.

  • In reply to Csanad:

    This is a FO that got something for Campana and 2 very young arms with a bit of upside could they go that route again?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He's strictly a late inning defensive specialist for them. Dee Gordon is entrenched at the keystone. But neither Gordon nor Barney can be considered defensive whiz's at SS, can they? An upgrade late over Hanley for sure, but makes you wonder of they were just trying to block someone else from upgrading....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    probably the Giants... they must love to see their division rival running Uggla out to play 2B every day...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Here's your article.

    Headline:
    Darwin Barney Traded to Dodgers for PTBNL.

    Text:
    Shrug.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Haha! That works.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    :D

  • Another great article, John. I think your assessment is well-reasoned and probably exactly what the FO is thinking (as usual). IMHO, there is a small chink in this plan, though. One of the advantages to making a deal now with a big prospect is that their value is now almost near its peak. If the Cubs wait to see who fits where, it will only lower the value of any prospects who don't fit it, who fail, etc. and it will force the Cubs to take lower value in the future.

    In many ways, this is not a bad problem to have as the Cubs will be able to keep the "winners" on their team, but it will create "losers" and those players' trade values will be greatly reduced.

    I guess my point is that IF the Cubs had a fairly good idea between the biggest prospects (Soler, Bryant, Russell, Baez and even Castro) who was not very likely to reach their ceiling or even come close to it, then MAYBE they think about trading that player for someone like Price with the caveat that they are able to extend Price/TOR arm. In other words, if they have more information on a player than we do and they think that player has huge value now and is not likely to have that value in the future, I'd argue that we should move them now (ish... could be in the off-season or before the trade deadline next year. Doesn't have to be right this minute).

    Any thoughts on this? Am I being a moran? (Cards fan spelling intentional)

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    In reply to Pura Vida:

    That also worries me. But twhat worries me the most is trading the wrong guy. God hates the Cubs, so I just know that the prospect we trade will flourish and the one we keep will turn into Josh Vitters.

    My hope is that the Cubs are able to fill most of their holes with the first and second waves of prospects, then consider trading some of the bigger names in the low minors if need be.

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    In reply to Pura Vida:

    That isn't "chink" in the plan. The fact is that the "upside" of keeping all until we know which ones are "good" is far greater than the downside of finding out that one of them turns into Josh Vitters, or Gary Scott. However, the downside of trading Lou Brock is also FAR greater than the upside of trading a player at the peak of his value.

    In short, we want to keep as many good ones as we can. Now, if we get blown away by an offer we would be foolish not to take advantage of it, but trading away someone who could well be more valuable in a couple of years than the guy we are acquiring is short-sighted. We have A LOT of holes to fill. While we have lots of good prospects to fill them I don't want to "short-suit" ourselves.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Good points, Joel and I wanted to clarify that I didn't mean to imply that it was a "chink" in the FO plan that they hadn't thought of (and chink is perhaps the wrong word... "inevitability" may be better)... As I pointed out myself, it's obviously great to have an overabundance of talent so that you do get to keep the good players. I think your last paragraph is essential rephrasing (maybe better) what I was saying in my own last paragraph... if someone wants to overpay, then take the deal... esp. if it's for a prospect/player that the FO may secretly not as high on as may be warranted. That may never develop and they may not have a player that fits that description, I am well aware.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think this is logical and I am guessing that the Cubs FO thinks in a similar fashion. My guess is that they want keep the prospects for as long as possible to ensure they are making the correct assessments on each player. If they trade a player prior to making it to the minors, I think it will be because there is something in that player's game that they believe could be exploited at the highest level.

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    Did we ever get the exact diagnosis on the James McDonald injury? I think it was shoulder related, but am unsure of the severity. Will he ever pitch in a Cubs uni? Best case scenario was this would be another reclamation project (ala Maholm/Feldman/Hammel) where they could get a potential long term asset in a flip, but that's obviously not happening this year. Could this be another Scott Baker situation where he rehabs on the Cubs dollar and signs elsewhere in the off season? I wasn't expecting a ton of production from McDonald, but the same held true for the last three flips.

  • Watching Uggla struggle last night and listening to announcers talk of 2nd base woes, I wondered why LA didn't seek Barney

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    The trade may well have been a preemptive one on the part of the Dodgers for that very reason. Gawd he looked awful in that game.

  • I think you have to add two arms this off-season.

    1. Lester (5 years/125 million, get him through ages 31-35)

    2. Arrieta

    3. Reclamation project. (Masterson 2 years/16 million?) or maybe even someone more proven like Beckett for 2 years. Something short term though.

    4./5. Let them battle it out. I don't even want to guarantee Wood a spot with the way he has been pitching.

    Wood/Beeler/Hendricks.

    Jackson has to be traded even if we have eat all of his salary.

    I don't want Shields because he's going to want 4+ years or so and someone out there is going to meet that price. He's going to be solid for a year or two but by the time the Cubs should firmly become contenders he's going to be in his late 30's and who knows how effective he'll be. Adding a guy like him would make perfect sense for the 2016/2017 team, not now.

    C- Welly
    1B- Rizzo
    2B- Baez
    SS- Castro
    3B- Bryant
    LF- Ruggiano
    CF- Mendy
    RF- Soler

    Keep Baez/Bryant down for two weeks for the extra year of control.

    Playoffs? Probably not. But it will be a significant step forward from the past few seasons.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Actually let me edit that...

    Just for fun...

    Trade Russell for Syndergaard

    1. Lester
    2. Arrieta
    3. Masterson
    4. Thor
    5. (Battle of the rest)

    I'm loving that rotation.

    1. Mendy
    2. Castro
    3. Rizzo
    4. Bryant
    5. Baez
    6. Soler
    7. Welly
    8. Ruggiano

    Whoa.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    They're not going to get anything for E-Jax, even if they ate all of his salary. He's had 4 quality starts in the last 2 months and 2 of those were marginal (5.0 IP - 3ER, and 5.1 IP - 3ER).

    I'm afraid we're stuck with him for at least one more year. Travis deserves the chance to see if he can rebound. He struggled like this in 2012 and was pretty solid last year so...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'm not expecting anything impactful for him. He's a cancer as a rotation spot and must be gone.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree. I think E Jackson is headed to our bullpen as the long reliever/ swing man of the pitching corp

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    maybe... IDK. I have serious reservations about a relief pitcher that can't seem to pitch with runners on base. He's essentially worthless from the stretch.

    I still think we are stuck with him for at least the first part of next year. If he still sucks, then I can see them DFA'ing him for the roster spot. At that point, we'd be better off paying him to stay at home. We can't give him away, even if we eat his salary so this seems like the next logical thing.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    i thought you need 6 innings for a QS.

  • In reply to stix:

    You are correct and by the true definition, he only has 1 quality start for June/July. I was giving him credit for a couple of close ones...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I thought you needed 6 innings for a QS.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    This might be a repost...

    I'm not expecting anything significant back. He's a cancer to the rotation and must be gone.

    As for Wood, I wasn't kicking him out of the rotation in my scenario. He can battle for a spot. I'm done handing out free passes for past performances. That's what made Darwin Barney an everyday player for so long. If Beeler/Hendricks outperform him they deserve the spots.

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    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    This is how I see the plan coming together as well. However, I see them trading Castro down the road and slotting Russell in at short. That is unless Bryant gets moved to the outfield.

  • In reply to Northside Neuman:

    Yes, that was an option I thought of as well.

  • I hope they keep Barney after this season so the PTBNL will be better

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    When I was watching last night I not only thought of Barney for now but wondered if he might not be able to hang on in LA. For his and our sake I hope so.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    I really dislike the Dodgers, but I sorta hope they win the NL this year for Barney's sake.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    we should list a roster of all the players the Cubs have released or traded for peanuts in the last 20 years that weren't good enough for the Cubs but were good enough for a WS team elsewhere.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    You have to keep in mind, the Giants didn't win the WS because little Mike Fontenot was their 25th man. There are plenty of WS winners with scrubs/journeymen on the bottom of their roster. The main reason they win is because they are better 1-15, not 20-25.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    ^ this

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    For Barney's sake, sure. Nice kid, good teammate, etc. But as a regular and (sometimes) sane poster, I'd hate to see it because of the ammo it gives the trolls and ignoramuses (ignoramusi?).

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think he'll be non tendered.

  • Whenever I see the David Price rumors, all that I can say is that it must be a slow news day for some columnists in the media, "so let's create some news". These rumors float like the Titanic.

  • Any chance the PTBNL for Barney is Kershaw???

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Heh. I just ribbed by cousin the Dodgers fan about that. Let's just say that he was not amused, LOL.

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    In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Probably Carl Crawford. Theo really likes him.

  • Writing down names of who want Lester.. if he blows next yr I'll compare it to those who RIP the front office for signing him.. personally I wouldn't mind Lester.. am aware his effectiveness could take a drastic hit with his age.. so let's remember the risk with these veteran pitchers

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    Does anyone know who the possibilities are in the PTBNL trades with Oakland and Los Angeles? Can you tie in how far a team advances in the playoffs to which players the Cubs can pick from? Like, if Oakland makes it to the World Series then the Cubs can get Raul Alcantara? The farther they go the better the return player?

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    You can tie it into a bit but not likely on how far they go but the performance of the players acquired. Barney maybe a bit different as far as how they go about his Ptbn. Soto had this "agreement" when moved to texas I believe

  • I'd really like it if the red sox would trade jon lester so he wouldn't be tied to draft pick compensation during free agency this offseason.

    I'd then like the cubs to sign him to a fair market deal, frontloading that deal so it wouldnt reflect poorly on the future payroll. I think 6/132 could get a deal done. He could get a sizeable signing bonus of about 10 mil and receive 28-30 mil in the first two years so the end of the contract could look like 4/66 which is more than manageable for a pitcher of lesters caliber even at ages 33-37.

    I would then hope that the cubs would deal for brett anderson of the rockies and shift edwin jackson to the swingman roll in the pen. the rotation would then look like: Lester, Arrieta, Anderson, Wood, Hendricks/Straily with Jackson as the spot starter.

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    Another question: I have been inquiring about Charles Cutler and I am getting a lot of "whats" but no "whys". So here is a re-enactment for you to understand where I am coming from and tell me how I'm wrong.
    Cutler comes into the manager's office and says "hey, pretty good year in AA. I hit over .300. I guess it's AAA next year and then I can embark on my dream of playing in the majors!" Then the manager says "No, we have decided to make you an 'organizational player'. You will stay in the minor leagues until you're 35 and then retire. No matter how well you do you will always be a minor league 'organizational roster filler"
    So it probably didn't go down like that. But when and how is the decision made that a player goes from prospect to organizational guy without ever getting the chance to see how well he does in AAA or the majors??? 4 years of hitting over .300 in AA and can't get to AAA? If his defense is so bad( I have no idea if it is bad at all) how about another position?

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    What prevents this if a player is good enough to move on is the Rule 5 draft, including the minor league portion of the rule 5 draft where other teams can scoop players that other teams try to hide. Also, like major leaguers, minor league players also enjoy free agency. Their contracts expire after seven Minor League seasons, if they are not on the 40-man major roster at the time of the expiration of their Minor League contracts. Those who cannot find the right deal with an affiliated baseball club may also take a season in independent baseball before returning to the farm system of another major league club.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    So what is Cutler's weakness? What is it exactly that's holding him back. I cannot let this go until I find the answer. The truth is out there - somewhere.

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    I think we could still deal for Price but not until winter.

    Right now I think the Rays are waiting and hoping that the Dodgers decide that Price is worth giving up Pederson, Seager, and Urias. It won't happen but there's very few teams that have both elite prospect depth and the desperation to trade them.

    Theo probably likes to play the long game, where the Rays start to become nervous about what they can get back for Price.

    But I think its possible that in the winter, Tampa looks at the Shark trade and realizes that it's tough to beat getting back a top-5 prospect. So maybe Baez+ would sound better to them. If they wait until next July, though. Baez might be playing well enough that Chicago says "we will trade you Baez for Price (after we negotiate an extension), but you have to throw in Archer."

    The off season should be interesting. I'm okay with throwing big bucks at Scherzer or Lester but also a little nervous that LA could make those negations insane even by their standards.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I think Sherzer is overrated. He's basically a 6-7 inning max pitcher and he wants Kershaw type money. Tigers offered him 144/6 yrs and he turned it down.

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    In reply to stix:

    You think the reigning Cy young winner, who is striking out people all over the place, and is the youngest FA pitcher on the market is overrated?

    OK. to each their own.

    I'm not surprised he turned down that contract when his teammate just got a $202MM deal.

  • Very good article. It's very easy to get carried away with some of the rumors that we hear. This lays out what I think are more realistic expectations for the remainder of this season, and a vague sense of what might happen in the coming off-season.

  • Great take on the Cubs view the FA market and how they value their prospects. I think that line of reasoning can be extended to answer those that believe Bryant and/or Schwarber will be destined for the OF-- it is my opinion that the Cubs will be keeping them (as well as all the top prospects) at their current positions for as long as possible and that the best option for obtaining a TOR SP might be in dealing Starlin Castro in a year or so.

    So far the fielding % and range factor for Kris Bryant are far better than when Aramis Ramirez was in the minors. Aramis was obviously a butcher at third when he reached the majors, but it goes to show that Bryant could definitely field the position if he were promoted. Early indications are that Baez will be acceptable at 2nd and the power that he could produce at that position would be unprecedented. Having a glove like Rizzo's at first is also a plus for keeping Bryant and Baez in the infield. As good as Castro performed at AA ball, Addison Russell is absolutely crushing his minor league numbers both at the plate and on the field thus far. It appears that he is the best pure SS in the Cubs organization. An infield of Rizzo, Baez, Russell, and Bryant might be the best the Cubs ever had and would make Castro- a 3-time all-star- a very attractive trade candidate. Theo had no issues trading Nomar Garciaparra and so Castro should not be immune either.

    Schwarber is undergoing an adjustment period at Daytona, but if his defense is acceptable behind the plate and his hitting does not continue to progress rapidly he just might become a serviceable catcher. With talent like Alcantara, Soler, Almora, and McKinney coming there should not be an urgency to put Schwarber in the OF.

    And if one looks at the overall influx of talent due to arrive the next several years, it might be best to use some of the payroll flexibility to lock prospects up to team friendly contracts like Rizzo and Castro if possible. Given the choice of blowing $120M on a 30-year old FA pitcher or locking up a couple of our core prospects, the Cubs would be wise to secure the core.

  • I wonder if Lake playing CF and Emilo playing 3rd are part to try and move them both.

  • Would the Cards take EJax? He had a decent year for them. I don't care about getting anything for him, but I wonder if there's anything we could do to keep the Cards' dirty claws off Lester.

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