Cubs pass on Zimmermann indicates they're looking better deal, but not necessarily bigger

I imagine that if we’d heard the news that the Cubs signed Jordan Zimmermann for 5 years and $110M instead of the Tigers, we’d have been alright with that.  Some may have even been quite happy with it.

But the fact that the Cubs took a pass on this likely means they’ll get something better, though that doesn’t necessarily mean bigger.

Zimmerman is a solid mid-rotation add with a good track record of past performance.  I believe he got good market value.  The most optimistic reports had him at a similar AAV but at 6 years instead of 5.  All in all, I think Zimmerman did well.

We could look at it in two ways.  The Cubs want something bigger — as in David Price or Zach Greinke.  It could also mean they want better value, whether that be through a cost-controlled starter via trade or a free agent pitcher whom they believe to have similar future value at a lower price.  That could mean Jeff Samardzija, who projects similarly for 2016 but could come at better value because of an off season with the White Sox in 2015.

It’s not that the Cubs have a steadfast rule that they don’t want to invest heavily on a pitcher, but we’ve seen for the past 4 years that they are only willing to do that for certain pitchers who fit their organizational philosophy. Jon Lester is one such pitcher and I think David Price is another.  The  question is how much.  The Red Sox may put a monkey wrench in any  Cubs plans to get Price on reasonable terms, indicating they’re willing to outbid any team by a significant margin to obtain his services.  As I’ve said often, Price will likely have to take less money if he  wants to pitch for the Cubs.  That doesn’t happen often in baseball, but it is not unheard of.  In fact. there are rumors the Giants offered more money than the Cubs last offseason for Lester.  Can lightning strike twice?  The Cubs certainly have become a preferred destination, but that doesn’t mean a free agent will leave money on the table.

In the absence of getting something bigger, there is the possibility of getting a pitcher that projects similarly to Zimmerman but at less financial cost.  Samardzija is one example.  A trade for a cost-controlled pitcher like Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Danny Salazar. Carlos Carrasco, or any of the other names bandied about this offseason would be another.  Those kinds of pitchers could make a similar or even bigger impact at far less financial cost — but when we’re talking trade there is still the question of prospect cost.  For example, I like Salazar better than I like Miller, but do I like him so much better that I would rather trade a core player to obtain him if Miller may be had in exchange for organizational depth?  Probably not.

There is also the question of how the Cubs acquire the  second starter they are rumored to be seeking.  If that secondary pitcher is John Lackey, for example, how does that change their stance on Samardzija.  Both players will require draft pick compensation.  The Cubs prefer not to lose draft picks, but this year is different because it is a low first round pick and the Cubs may well end up compensating for that loss to some degree if Dexter Fowler signs elsewhere.  But would they be willing to give up two picks to bring in those two pitchers?  Or is punting the top of the draft preferable to giving up the kinds of prospects or young players it may take to acquire that cost-controlled starter via trade?  Or would the Cubs prefer to trade depth at the top and continue restocking through the lower levels via the draft?

It is a complex decision. There are a lot of contingencies involved.  One decision affects the next as the path the Cubs take may differ depending on each individual decision.  We tend to look at offseason plans as a wishlist but it more likely resembles a flow chart that depends on future value, organizational fit. contract terms, trade cost, draft pick compensation, etc.

Right now, the situation is still rather fluid for the Cubs, but I think once they make that first big decision we’ll begin to get a better idea of the path this offseason will take.

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  • I really don't think the 2 draft picks should be a big consideration if they want to sign two pitchers that require that.

    As you noted, they get one back with Fowler potentially, and you have a loaded team. If it doesn't hit it's potential, you still have depth in the system, and guys you can trade if you need to replenish.

    I like Grienke first, Price second. Either would be amazing additions.

    One of Shark or Lackey would make a great secondary compliment.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Draft picks are always a big consideration for organizations that believe in growing and maintaining a foundation that will keep the talent flowing. The Cubs are certainly one of those organizations. Sometimes it is easier to trade a good prospect at the upper levels when they are depth, especially when they are completely blocked, then it is to give up draft picks.

    Price or Greinke + Shark won't happen. Not trying to be a downer but just trying to keep expectations realistic. I'm not sure they even do Samardzija + Lackey to be honest. I think if they sign Samardzija, they will go the trade route or sign a non-QO starter like Fister. Would actually be surprised if they give up two draft picks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, what do you think ps trading Castro, Baez, and prospects like vogelback and young pitcher for young starter like Quintana, sign samarrdia or lackey, sign Zobrist to play and bat 2nd, sign span to lead off. Added experienced, contact hitters and improved outfield defense without breaking bank long term. May need let wood go to trade hammel to make it work short term.

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    In reply to BelvinT:

    White Sox are probably going to want more than that for Quintana. I imagine they'd insist on Schwarber. And Theo would thank them for their time.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Rodon?

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    In reply to BelvinT:

    Here's the thing about the White Sox: they never rebuild. They always think this is the year. So if they're gonna trade good, cost controlled major league talent they're gonna want good, cost controlled major league talent in return. I'm not sure how we make a deal with that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Actually, my thought was to trade Baez & Castro for a cost controlled starter, could be Ross, Salazar, miller, etc, then sign Zobrist and span to improve contact & on base skills, and defense. Hate to part with soler, but seems like we have prospects to put a deal together with Baez & Castro headlining trade. Key would be signing Zobrist.

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    In reply to BelvinT:

    But with all of them we're talking cost control that's less than Rodon (Castro especially but also Soler) or real question marks about their potential to be major leaguers (Baez). The obvious comparison is again Schwarber, who was picked one slot later, made it to the majors in his second year, and had a combination of success of frustrations. And I don't think either one qualified as Super 2 so you're getting 3 more legitimately cost controlled seasons. That's a lot of value. I just can't see how we can make a deal work with the White Sox.

  • In reply to BelvinT:

    There seems to be a lot of love for Quintana. I haven't heard anything on that front. He's a pitcher that thrives under Cooper's style but I don't know how well it translates. Even if he doesn't, I think he can be a solid, durable three. My preference is for higher ceiling with less cost. Quintanta will be costly because of his present production and because the White Sox will want to make absolutely sure they don't get raked on this deal. My guess is they'd ask for Soler or more.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I love Quintana but I don't think the Sox organization is self aware enough to deal him, it would risky even for less risk adverse teams plus dealing with the Cubs adds its own risks for them as they don't dare lose the deal. Not happening.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Even if you don't consider him a true number 2 ( even those his numbers do plus he's entering his prime seasons ) his value is thru the roof.

    Because of Sale and Quintana, the sox refuse to blow it up. ( even though they should ).

    For what they are owed and their production, you will not find a better value duo at the top of any rotation across the AL. It's virtually ridiculous what these 2 are owed for what they produce.

    I realize their fan base isn't as loyal, patient, and silly as ours to keep showing up and paying premium prices for bad baseball. Sox mgmt needs to realize their fan base isn't showing up for mediocre baseball so they should hit the reset button even if it's a short reset.

    Problem w the sox is they have too many holes to not try and trade 1 if not both and try to fill 3 everyday starters for 1 pitcher and try to go for it again in 2 years. They should be able to get a better package then the Phillies got for Cole. ( sale is better and cheaper, Q is younger and cheaper ) and the Phillies basically threw $$ ( took back a terrible Harrison contract ) in to get a better haul.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I disagree on the draft picks. The smart play is keeping the draft picks and pick up an extra one when / if Fowler signs elsewhere. You have to balance short term and long term. But it never hurts to keep stockpiling young talent in the minor leagues.

    Everything is based on the scenario though and if you get a really good value contract that is tied to compensation, then maybe you consider it.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Giving up a first round pick is less costly when you get someone who could be a long term top of the line contributor like Price. Giving up a first round pick for 38 year old Lackey is much more expensive.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

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    Kind of glad the Cubs passed on Zimmerman. I hope the hot seat heats up cuz its cold in Cubs land! Thanks for the constant updates on all things Cubs John. This is one of 3 or 4 sites I check and read every day. Love it!

  • In reply to Brandon Halford:

    You're welcome. Think things will heat up soon, but Cubs won't be pushed into overpaying for anything.

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    I think you nailed it. Now would it surprise me if Price signed with the Cubs for $170m, even if he could make more elsewhere? You know what, it wouldn't. Although it also wouldn't surprise me to see the Cubs pass. The next 2 weeks should be interesting.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    It would surprise me, but not completely ruling it out either. I see it as a long shot.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree it's a long shot. But if it were me, and I really wanted to be on one team and not another, the difference between $170m and $200m wouldn't stop me from going to where I want to be. And the rumors are that Price wants to be a Cub and doesn't want to be a Red Sox. And I suspect Theo and Maddon are very good salesmen.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I'm guessing he'll be a Cardinal but I hope I'm wrong.

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    I'm not shocked the Cubs didn't sign Zimmerman. I am shocked Zimmerman signed so early for less money than was expected. He must not have been getting very good offers on the open market. Clearly the Tigers feel they can bounce back. Seems like their window is closing or may have shut. The Royals seem to still be in very good shape. Anyway as for the Cubs, Price seems like Lester last year. But I don't think they break the bank for him. If they get reasonably close to the highest offer it may work. Shark seems like a real possibility now. I assume he gets less than Zimmerman. Think Bosio gets the best out of him.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    What we see publicly and the private evaluations of front offices are not always the same. Guess is that no team was offering Zimmerman 6 years so he took the AAV he wanted.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah sometimes those projections on salaries aren't exactly what they are supposed to be. It's all we have to go on of course. The Cubs for sure are very tight lipped with their evaluations. All you can do is base it on past behavior. Maybe Shark will get more than Zimmerman. Zimmerman's value must of taken a hit with his up and down season last year. Bet he would of made more if he was a UFA last year.

  • I only see the Cubs making one big pitcher acquisition. Hammel and Hendricks make a good #4 & #5 starters in the rotation. My guess is they don't spend 100+ million on a starter. My preference is to start using some of the prospects accumulated and trade for a starter. Then start making extensions with Arrietta and young position players.

  • The only problem with signing a Price or Grienke is that the Cubs don't need a #1 or #2. They already have that. Do you think Lester or Arrieta would be happy being a #3? We need a new #3 with Hammels and Hendricks at 4 & 5. That's what #s4 and #s5 are. Samardzija fits the bill.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Agreed. I think they could greatly benefit from a #3 who goes deep into games and gives them quality innings.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Really? You can't have enough #1 pitchers.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    You can when you consider the cost of fielding such a staff through free agency.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Arrieta is relatively cost controlled for the next two years. Just about all of the position players are cost controlled for many years to come. If the Cubs are going to splurge a little bit, it could be for impact pitching. Obviously we don't make these decisions, the front office does. But if it were me, I would rather pay more for David Price and keep all draft picks then pay what it is going to take to sign Jeff Samardzija who does not have nearly the same track record and will cost a draft pick.

    What do you think about a Doug Fister signing if they go the #3 pitcher route?

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    This always seems like a good idea, but the reality is that buying a super staff via free agency just hasn't worked. And when it doesn't, you end up like the Tigers, who still have no options but to buy pitchers and limit their flexibility because of a bloated payroll and poor farm system. Once young and up and coming Washington now in a similar position after buying their way to contention. Best way to lose what they have is to feel like now they have to start spending money. Would much rather emulate the Cardinals than those teams. When was the last time the Giants bought their pitching staff? The Royals? I really don't understand why Cubs need a top of the rotation pitcher at any cost when their top 2 was statistically better than any team except for the Dodgers. It is not a need. And it is certainly not something that needs to be done at any cost. You put yourself in the position the Cubs have so you don't have to build through big free agent contracts.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Or you put yourself in the position the Mets have and develop some starting pitching. That's why the discussion now is on what the Cubs have to give up, as opposed to do the Cubs need to give up.

  • In reply to jack:

    You can choose the Mets path or the Cubs path. Both teams now have to trade or pay for what they don't have -- and that is why you build surplus. I do think it is easier to build surplus with what you know best. And the Cubs people know hitting.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I sometimes wonder if they haven't tried a little too hard on pitching which they really seem to struggle developing. If they'd gone to their strength and taken Ryan McMahon (who I had heard they liked) instead of Zastryzny in 2013 they'd be in fat city trying to work a deal this winter.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Interesting thought. Though Zastryzny has drawn some interest this fall too. Talked to at least one scout from another team that liked him, but he obviously isn't the prospect that McMahon is right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe a team can't develop everything, but people can't be bellyaching that the GM has to trade value to get value. Maybe they can find GMs like at Baltimore and Oakland that got suckered, but at some point that runs out, and also the value of draft picks becomes reduced to the Cubs organization, compared to what it was a couple of years ago.

  • In reply to jack:

    They'll have to give up value at some point, no question. I think they're prepared to do that. They have to be very good about scouting their own system, though. You don't want to overpay either and you want to deal from a position where you feel you have depth or can easily replace.

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    In reply to veteran:

    I really do not think they care about being # 1 or whatever...they want to win....fans are also not accounting for SP depth in case of an injury...in today's game you have to have at least 6 guys that can start, preferably 7. They have very little depth in regard to SP in the minors. They need two starters..with Hammel being depth in the rotation and being long and middle relief, as well as a spot starter

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    In reply to veteran:

    Throw Lester in on a deal for Price or Grienke. If not, ask him for a few bucks back to make up for him not being able to hold a runner on 1st.

  • In reply to Bernie Cohen:

    FYI, you can't trade for free agents.

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    After we heard all the rumors about the Samardzija/Cubs love affair going on I did a little research. I'm not sure many folks realized that the 2016 projections for Shark and Zimmerman are damn near the same! You couple that with the reports that some in the FO were concerned about Zimmerman loss in velocity, we can see why the Cubs took a pass just to be safe.

    But......... If the Cubs do sign Samardzija, would Shelby Miller really be that "impact" arm Jed and Theo promised us? I think there is something bigger coming soon as John points out.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I also have to believe the Cubs may want to extend Arrieta. There is just so much money to go around....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I haven't seen that Jed/Theo "promised" an impact arm. My memory is that they said last year, about this time, that in the next 18 months they wanted to sign a TOR starter. They signed Lester who was considered TOR.

    This year I vaguely recall them saying something to the effect that they wanted to lengthen the pitching staff. While that can be signing an impact pitcher, it could also mean signing a couple of AAAA guys so that if someone gets injured we can stay afloat for a couple starts. They have said that they want more guys able to come in and start MLB games because we were relatively lucky last year to avoid injuries. Again, getting more impact pitching can fulfill this but that is far from a "promise" in my mind.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Maybe the word "promised" was too strong. But both Jed and Theo said after the World Series was over that they wanted to add 2 pitchers with one being an impact arm. Jed Hoyer even said that the Cubs wanted to add depth within the system, meaning the minors.

    We can see all the arms they have added already. Was this the depth part? Is Samardzija the impact arm? More to be revealed...

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Impact could mean a lot of things. If Samardzija pitches 200 quality innings, that will have an impact on the team. It could mean Price or Greinke too, but I think impact can mean a lot of things.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    And I think it's easy to underestimate how important those 200 innings would be. Just having a third guy who can go out there and pitch 6-7 innings every start would take a lot of pressure off the bullpen and keep them sharper. That's a benefit to everyone.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And if you are run out there for 200 innings, it usually means you are pitching well enough to stay in the game.

  • If you can afford it in prospects or money that 3rd #1 starter improves your odds of advancing in the playoffs. I think this FO is expecting to go deep in the playoffs and that extra ace should payoff.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I'm not saying the Cubs won't add impact arms this offseason, because they will. Just wanted to comment on your point about next year's playoff run. Remember, everyone, the Cubs 2016 trade deadline will be an entirely different animal than anything we've done the last several years. Of course we have to get there first. We'll get two quality arms now, and be loaded for bear come July 31st.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    Yes, and a 4th and 5th #1 starter will improve our odds too. The problem is that that kind of staff gets VERY expensive so there is question whether we can afford it.

    Just saying, "We are a big market team" doesn't mean that we can afford it, though. What I like about Theo and Jed is they sign guys for value realizing if you can get 1/2 the WAR for 1/3 the price that money saved can be put into another guy that will make up that 1/2 WAR.

  • If they want Price I bet they started with the offer they gave Lester last season and have only a little more in the tank if that doesn't do it. I agree that if Price wants to be here he will have to turn down more lucrative or longer offers.

  • If the Cubs could get Lackey at 2 years, $13M per I think that is where they would like to be. This front office seems to be risk averse to laying out money for large FA contracts, and they are so good at extracting value out of waiver claims that they will need to see a no-brainer type deal to pull the trigger. Same goes with giving up top prospects for cost-controlled pitching.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    I could go for Lackey at 2/$26M. Maybe a 3rd year option with a $1M buy out. I could see that too.

  • I really like the flow chart viewpoint as more likely than the wish list approach to the offseason. I haven't thought of it exactly in those terms, but it helps visualise the thought process going on. Thanks.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    Thanks. I think it does help to visualize what is a complex plan built to account for contingencies that can be out of their control.

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    Great article, John. I like how you seem to go where most writers won't. I have read--and I think most of the readers here have also read--countless articles breaking down the statistical impact of players. They throw out numbers for years/$$ and insist, without any real evidence, "The Cubs can do this." But you point out that this may not result in "value."

    Thanks for the insights.

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    When trying to assess risk / reward for the FA SP available, I think you have to look at the number of pitches thrown. How much abuse has the arm taken recently?

    If you look at 2014 & 2015 combined, a normal workload would look like:
    60 - 65 starts with 6 - 6.4k pitches thrown.

    Samardzija 65 starts, 6.7k pitches
    Chen 62 starts, 6.0k pitches
    Price 66 starts, 7.1k pitches
    Greinke 64 starts, 6.4k pitches

    To me, Price sets off alarms when you look at the workload and the asking price. But someone like Chen might be the low mileage value the Cubs are looking for in a FA acquisition. And I prefer he flexibility the lower cost FA gives you instead of tying all the money up in one arm. Too much risk!

  • In reply to Scott Underhill:

    That's only half of the analysis. Price has the best mechanics of all the guys you looked at. He can take a larger workload.

    I am still disappointed we lost Johnson--the guy who developed Price and his mechanics in college. His book is a great read.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Price has good mechanics but he's the type of guy who relies on "stuff" and might not project well when he loses velocity similar to Verlander (no, I don't buy his 2015 resurgence). Grienke on the other hand has good stuff but depends a rounded game for his success. If you were sign one I'd prefer Greinke.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Greinke is more of a pitcher and has that feel--kinda Maddux like.

    I really don't see Price losing anything. He is so clean and efficient.

    If I had to choose though, I am with you and would go Greinke.

  • In reply to TC154:

    And, FWIW, it was only a matter of time for Verlander. A max effort delivery with a stiff front-leg landing spells shoulder probs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Oh, I completely agree. I told people that when he signed his deal and everyone thought I was crazy.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    So the core muscle surgery that Verlander had was not related to his drop in velocity? He started to regain strength late 2015 or 18 months after his surgery.

  • In reply to stix:

    It seems to me core muscles are involved in just about everything you do. I would think it would have some affect on velo. To what degree, I don't know. May depend on the pitcher too. Some guys rely much more heavily on arm speed, but some like Lincecum use their core a great deal.

  • In reply to stix:

    Surgery was related to his drop in velocity. You said it.

    Surgery is related to poor mechanics which causes undo stress on his joints. He'll regain some form, but I believe he will breakdown again.

    Just like Prior--just like Wood. They had their moments after injury/surgery, but eventually failed again.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Strausburg is another Prior. Has that very similar inverted W delivery, which leads to shoulderproblems. Matt Harvey will also likely break down again, same delivery as Strausburg.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I think Harvey will be OK actually. The only real problem with Harvey is the Mets instructors were getting him to point his arm back towards 2B making his arm swing longer. This is weird because that move creates shoulder issues due to poor timing. He did not have this going on as he came up through the system but changed this once he reached the big leagues.

    I agree on Strasburg -- I would stay far away.

  • In reply to Scott Underhill:

    I think Chen, and maybe even Maeda (if posted/he can be had for a reasonable price) would be great adds. Chen always outperforms his FIP, and won't break the bank at all. I think there is a lot of value there. Maeda doesn't really have a comp in the MLB, but his pitch mix seems fairly similar to Chen's, and he may be added for a cheaper value even.

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    We really do have to stop repeating the idiotic rumors about Boston being willing to outbid everyone for Price. Boston is going to offer what Price's past and future performance indicates just like as other serious bidder. That is why most clubs have separated their "Business" and "Baseball" operations. Contract offers are not emotional processes as in the day of George Steinbrenner.

    Price is going to get the financial offers he deserves and then he is going to make a personal decision. He is not going to Boston. A fan base he dislikes, teammates he dislikes and a last place team. Ain't happening period.

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    In reply to Statyllus:

    Along those lines, Henry Schulman, Giants beat reporter, said he thinks Zimmerman signed so quickly because he likely targeted a location and team. He also said last year Lester eliminated the Giants first, because after playing for the A's he didn't want to be in the Bay Area. A player who signs a 5-year contract will likely consider a lot of factors. And when the $ gets to this level, chasing every last dollar doesn't strike me as vital. $100m or $125m: does it change your life that much?

  • In reply to Statyllus:

    Because it would be so unlikely that a Dombrowski-led team would vastly outbid the field? Were you there when they overpaid for Fielder or when the Cubs tried to vastly outbid the market for Sanchez only to see the Tigers beat that too? Were you there when Boston decided they absolutely had to outbid the Yankees for Crawford?

    I think it's pretty naive to think it will be strictly a rational business decision when human behavior is involved. Especially when that behavior pattern has presented itself multiple times with this very GM and this ownership group. Got a kick out of the idea that human behavior has been eliminated from baseball business decisions since the day of Steinbrenner and now all business decisions are made on a strictly rational basis.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    All ancient history - and didn't Dave Dombrowki get fired in Detroit?
    Name a contract in the last five years where a player got $30-$40M more than their past and future performance dictated. Bear in mind if a player's future performance is not as expected that is a different issue.

    I think it's pretty dumb to think that a complex business decision that involves hundreds of millions of dollars and multiple points of approval is not done on a rational business basis. That's why you see the GM job being reduced in authority. Virtually every club has a business side executive and a separate baseball executive. The business side executive structure is there to ensure business decisions are business decisions.

  • In reply to Statyllus:

    Just because you repeat this naive statement in a different way, it doesn't make it any more true than it was the first time. People don't always make rational decisions when it comes to money. They make irrational decisions, money or otherwise against their own self-interests all the time. And to think that existed only in the recent past and has suddenly stopped is just naive.

    And calling others dumb or idiotic doesn't make you smart. We don't post that way here.If you're so much smarter than everyone as you proclaim yourself to be, you should be intelligent enough to make your point without insulting the intelligence of others. If that is how you need to express yourself, you are at the wrong place. We don't do that here. We're better than that.

    Do it again ant it will be your last post here.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I should have said "naive" like you did. I did not call anyone dumb. I said it would be dumb to think decisions are made in a certain way. You making points that demonstrate little to no critical thinking is not exactly enlightenment either.

  • In reply to Statyllus:

    On the contrary, the "logic" you displayed is rigid, linear, and compartmentalized into artificially created subsets just to try to make it work.

    Smart people can be naive. I don't think it is an insult to be naive. I am naive about a lot of things in which I have limited experience.

    And with that, I will have to say you do not fit the culture of this website where we have thoughtful, civil, open-minded discussion that respects the others on this site. There are other sites that cater to this kind of blustery, chest-pounding posts. Go find them.

  • In reply to Statyllus:

    Not germane to most of this year's class but Scott Boras on his top clients, like Scherzer last year, only conducts business with team owners in a direct appeal to their emotions and desire to win. He's very successful at it. If emotions were not involved why would he continue to employ this tactic and why does Scherzer find himself a very, very rich man?

  • In reply to TC154:

    Another good point. Boras directly and openly appeals to emotion. You are essentially selling your clients to a team and any survey level marketing class will tell you that emotions are routinely used in sales/commercials...fear, envy, etc. And guess what? It works! And it works on business people too.

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    In reply to Statyllus:

    Signing both Panda and Ramirez was a tactical and professional business decision???

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    Good one. I am sure he'll find an excuse for that as well -- even though many (including this site) thought they were irrational at the time.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I get what he was trying to say but he used the wrong logic.... And TC made a valid point talking about Boras going straight to the owner... he will do that time and time again and emotions and will to win will sometimes override common sense

  • In reply to rynofan74:

    I think we can all agree everyone sets out to make rational decisions, but I also think most of us agree that it doesn't always happen. Emotion can and often does hijack the rational thought process. We see it all the time in all decision-making -- and finances are no exception, even when we're talking about business people, who are not immune to making irrational decisions.

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    In reply to rynofan74:

    Not that I'm trying to take his side, but I'd argue it's tough to know what was happening there. One way of reading everything Boston has done is a giant middle finger to Theo Epstein. That, clearly, is not a tactical business decision. It's also possible that they decided they financially couldn't go full rebuild since it would reduce their attendance by too much so go grab two big names and assume they'll pay for themselves at the box office. We don't know.

    My larger point would be that even large corporations make a lot of decisions based on factors other than cold logic. There are a million things that go into it and we just can't know them all.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think a lot of what happened in Boston can be traced back to Lucchino and ownership. Not that Theo didn't make is own mistakes too. But that is my point. Nobody is immune. Competition can creep in and it does get emotional. Simple bargaining games like dollar auctions show that people don't always make decisions on the basis of purely rational thinking.

    I think it makes for an interesting discussion. Ironically, competitiveness, pride, and this emotional need to be "right" sometimes get in the way :) I do like the turn this debate has taken now, much more thoughtful and representative of the discourse we like on this site.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    perfect example would be how many Cub fans, myself included may be over valuing some of the organizations own position players. for example in my mind Schwarber would be more than enough to expect to get something like Klueber back in a one for one deal. While Indians fans would look at me and say that's crazy. rationally I know I'm probably wrong and over valuing Schwarber. still I don't think i'd even consider doing the deal if the Indians offered it...because my irrational side. Hell id have a hard time giving up Soler for the same deal. I know it would make sense and probably be great for the Cubs. but even as a fan I'm too emotionally attached. Guys like Torres, Underwood, McKinney? id throw 6 of them out in a heart beat for a Klueber in a a heartbeat. and id probably make an extremely bad deal.

    good thing I'm not the Cubs GM huh?

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    In reply to Statyllus:

    I'll let ya'll debate whether they would actually bid $30m more than the next team. I ask: where did this come from? As far as I can tell, a Red Sox beat reporter said they had to get Price, and, darn it, outbid everyone if you need to! Next thing you know, everyone is parroting it like it's gospel. The same people who less than a week ago were convinced that Price desparately wanted to stay in Toronto. And did any of theses pundits predict Zimmerman to Detroit? Or that he would sign for only $210m? If they did, I missed it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm been a 'trader' since I was 18. I'm now 36. (obviously) The idea that human beings use critical analysis and rigid mathematics, when deciding how to use money, is just not how it works. I'm sure emotion players a large part in any decision made, when a sports franchise is allocating funds. It's natural and expected. Don't catch a falling knife comes to mind -- But, we all do it. Thankfully we have a top management team in place. And I, John and many others, believe this front office won't allow outside pressure to force them into a bad decision. When you build something from the FL ground floor, you don't make a leap of faith when reaching the penthouse.

  • In reply to Josh Adams 36:

    I'm about 5 beers in. Grammar and syntax is next door. Have a lovely holidays, denzians.

  • In reply to Josh Adams 36:

    Ha! Happy Holidays!

  • In reply to Josh Adams 36:

    Exactly. I just don't think it is possible to always separate anything we do from emotion. We can at times but sometimes it gets the best of all of us.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not baseball, but every car I've ever bought has been an emotional decision.

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    In reply to Statyllus:

    I disagree. Boston ownership is known to make quick emotional moves that over-ride what their GM wishes might be. It happened when Theo was there and we saw it again last year when they signed both Hanley and Panda.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Oh and Miami never makes emotional decisions. Com'on man.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Miami! How did we get on Miami?
    People make bad decisions is your point- really?!

    I was speaking about a specific aspect of the new MLB club organization structure that Boston now has implemented. This structure is being implemented across baseball precisely to avoid the historical behavior you reference. It's called change. It does not guarantee that no club will ever make a bad decision but is intended to reduce the probability. For the love God!

  • In reply to Statyllus:

    You seem to like to draw artificial boundaries to try to belabor a point and defend flawed logic. Business people make rational financial decisions, baseball people do not (and really, the line betwween business people and baseball people itself is artificial). Some teams make rational decisions (i.e. Boston), but others like Miami don't. Dombrowski and Boston ownership made irrational decisions in the past, but not in the present.

    As soon as you have to draw all these lines and compartmentalize an idea to make it work, just to try to prove yourself right, you have to ask yourself whether the logic is flawed to begin with.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Boston implemented the separate Business and Baseball Operations structure with the hiring of Dombrowski this past summer. Sharing events that happened prior to that structure while entertaining are not relevant to the current operational structure.

    Why do you think virtually every club is migrating to this structure? The contracts and revenue streams are too large and complex to be left to former minor league scouts or ticket office managers (typical GMs background.) The major market clubs are billion dollar businesses with sophisticated investors and boards. This does not mean that bad decisions will never be made (see LA Dodgers) but these are decisions made by the organization not a single guy like Dombrowski.

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    I always liked Mike Leake. I believe he's a FA but don't know if he would cost a draft pick, but I would be happy to have him. It won't cost Price or even Zimmerman money but could fit very well with the Cubs.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    He would not cost a pick. I can see him being in the mix. A step below Samardzija, but he will at least give you innings and even some value with his bat/legs in the NL.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    My ideal offseason at this point would be moving Soler for a guy like Salazar or Teheran to be the 3 starter -- and possibly step into the ace roll if we lose Arrieta -- and then Leake to be the 4 starter, moving Hammel to 5 and Hendricks to the 6th starter in Iowa. It sucks for Kyle but having someone like him ready to fill in when needed would really help the team.

    If the Cubs do want to Samardzija instead of Leake to give themselves a better chance in Jake's last two years (?), I understand giving up the pick for that.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, you know how much I like Soler (and Baez too). I would like Teheran more than Miller, and think that Atlanta might take a ML pitcher as well as maybe McKinney. It depends on what their philosophy is right now--do like the Cubs did and trade for prospects and thus maybe not win so many in 2016 but get a much higher draft pick or win more (thus Soler) and get a lower one. As we know, a few years of not winning, getting high picks (and doing a great job of picking the right person) can result in a 97 win season.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I love Soler. I think he's gonna be a monster. Heck, I embarrassed myself by saying he'd beat Bryant for the ROY. But the sad truth is if we're gonna trade from strength, he's the obvious one to go since right-handed power with mid-to-high strikeouts is pretty easy for us to find right now. That's the painful move we have to make. Quality minor league pitching is much harder for us to give up right now because it's a huge organizational priority.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Moody, I'm on the same page as you. Salazar or Teheran for Soler plus added players on both sides. I would sign Samardzija as my other pitcher. Then where do you go from there? Our OF is depleted. Schwarber in LF then we need help. A lot of talk about signing Gordon, but what are you're thought about Cespedes?

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    In reply to Jer Bear:

    I wouldn't touch Cespedes. Guys that talented traded that often scare me. The thin about our outfield that I don't know is how they internally judge Almora. If they think it's more likely than not he's the starting CF by September, I'd look for a stopgap guy who can contribute low in the lineup and play decent defense. I want Bryant in right but there doesn't seem to be a lot of support for that.

    I absolutely wouldn't sign Samardzija and Gordon. That cuts a little too deep into the draft.

    If we trade Soler and sign Samardzija, First, I'd move Bryant to right (protect him from Troy Glaus disease). I'd move Castro to third, try to trade for a reasonable 2B and, failing that, let Baez and La Stella compete for playing time. Essentially anyone there is keeping the seat warm for Torres. Let's assume Almora is a question mark internally. I'd wait to see who comes available in trade because I never would have imagined trading for Fowler a year ago. Worst case, I'd sign a good defense guy and try to address the position at the deadline if it's needed.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ok Going with you on this, would you resign Fowler?

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    In reply to Jer Bear:

    I wouldn't. I'd like a pick somewhere close to the first round and Fowler gives us that if we sign Samardzija and, on balance, I'd like our eventual CF to be a guy with a better contact tool. I love Fowler, just not on this team as it's evolving.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I like what you're saying!

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Am I the only guy that's scared to death Jake's arm might fall off this year? I'm a huge fan and am hell bent on keeping him in Chicago as long as possible. But I need him to back up last season before I lock him into the Ace role going forward in my mind.

    As for Hammel or Hendricks...I don't think the Cubs have the option of putting them on the Iowa shuttle. Their either with the MLB club...or gonna be on claimed by someone else's major league club.

    I think that's the whole point of all the arms we've already picked up this off season...they have options or minor league deals which give the Cubs the flexibility of leaving them in Iowa till needed

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    In reply to Steve Fowler:

    Jake's done it for a season and a half now. He gets the benefit of the doubt until his arm falls off. It would be an insult to him and cause trouble in the clubhouse if anyone BUT Jake Arrieta was #1 in the rotation next year.

    I believe Kyle has an option year left.

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    In reply to Steve Fowler:

    Jake's inning increase last year was a bit alarming I thought. He pitched 72 more innings this year 229.0 than last year 156.2 which is what about a 47% increase. Down the stretch he was throwing 7-9 IP and 100 - 130 pitches per outing. Prior to last yr. he had only pitched 100+ innings 3x from '10 - '12 @100.1, 119.1, & 114.2. In the playoffs after the wild card game it kinda looked like his arm did fall off because he just wasn't the same pitcher. I figured it had to be fatigue. I guess only time will tell if he is a true workhorse like Maddon was riding him there down the stretch.

  • In reply to johnsmithcubfan:

    No one on the Cubs in a better conditioned athlete than Arrieta.

    Could it be first-time pressure of pitching in the playoffs impacted him?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Jake sure pitched well in the Pittsburgh post season game and there isn't much more pressure than a win or go home game. I think he got tired. Even well conditioned people get tired.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Arrieta himself has said he tired out and its not hard to believe.He exceeded his career high by about 85 innings from last year.

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    Are we concerned about long term effectiveness or injury? Clubs insure large contracts against injury - usually 10% of the contact value is paid in premium. If long term effectiveness is the issue that's the cost of doing business - these are human beings and they get old. The clubs write off 40% of the salary across the life of the contract anyway. These clubs with massive revenue streams - like the Cubs- aren't going to get hurt on these contracts. As fans we need to be more concerned with the wins not the business risks. Every business has risks that they manage. We don't worry about our favorite restaurant's ability to manage fire and health safety risks, right?

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    In reply to Statyllus:

    Your comparison needs work. Your risk mitigation examples in the restaurant are implicit in the business. They are forced to take on those risks by the very act of opening. One implicit risks every team has to manage is injuries. They happen and the truth is most fans could care less how a team goes about insuring against injuries -- but teams do their best to do so.

    That's not David Price. The Cubs have full choice on whether or not to take that risk.

    A better comparison for huge free agent contracts is a fund manager deciding exactly which stocks to put in his fund. The decision to add a given stock at the stated price is a choice. A fund manager who is going for aggressive capital growth probably isn't going to add a large-cap business with a high divided to their portfolio because it would actively work against what the manager is trying to do.

  • I'm predicting the Cubs sign an FA (whether it's a top tier pitcher like Price I have no idea) and also trade for a younger arm like Miller or Salazar. I know everyone is making a big deal about Arrieta's extension, but I don't think the Cubs will be able to retain after 2-17 if he continues to put up big numbers. By then, Underwood and/or Johnson should be ready to step in.

  • Off topic here, but did anyone else see that the Pirates are in the running for Cahill and possibly giving him a starting job? Makes me think they believe his uptick in stuff can be translated to a starters role. I wouldn't mind giving him a shot at a starters spot if he doesn't mind battling it out with other contenders and agreeing to go back to the pen if he doesn't win the job. It is probably a long shot at this point, but it bothers me that he could go to a rival.

  • I read somewhere (maybe on this sight) that the cards are at $128 mil post arbitratation with several holes to fill and the cubs are at $114 mil with 2 possibly 3 positions to fill. I believe we should be out spending st louis (smart spending).

    If you trade montero our salary is at $100mil. Next year we have $25 mil coming off the books so add in $10 mil arrieta arb and our payroll for 2017 sits at $85 mil. I would sign price frontload his contract so he cost us 15mil in years 5and 6. Then sign fowler or someone for 3 years to leadoff and play CF. If the cubs really want that extra starter put a package together with montero and castro and some prospects not named contreras or torres and get that starter.

    But yes the cubs can afford to spend on high priced pitching the next 4 or 5 years then after that it will be pretty difficult.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    It was my post about the current commitments regarding Cubs and Cards. Yes the Cards will more than likely increase their payroll 10% or so with I can only predict was another sound EBIT year from their operation putting them above $140M. They are a sound organization with a very strong scouting operation, (legit or not they seem to get it done). I think the Cubs are looking at payroll in a much longer term than the next year or two. If their core position players play as projected they will have to have to devote $100M to five players by 2018-19 to keep them. In all likelihood one or two might slip or get hurt. Arrieta if he gets signed an extension will have to be $25M to 2019-20. That is $125M and you want long term FA's. Sure if the Cubs eventually build payroll to $200M they could work through this with flexibility but it is going to take true masters.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    not sure Atlanta would want to pay that much for a catcher of Miggy's age...but they supposedly are looking to upgrade at that spot.

    but the truth is I'm not sure they could get much for Montero right now...and more importantly....I don't think the Cubs have a catcher to replace him with...yet.

  • Mark Simon posted this on ESPN

    Jordan Zimmermann
    Pitches clocked 95.0 MPH/faster

    2012 236
    2013 272
    2014 159
    2015 31

    94.0/faster
    2012 883
    2013 987
    2014 928
    2015 296

    CREEPY!!!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    That was one of the things some of us mentioned too. It has to be a concern.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Although I have never seen it presented that way. That really brings it to light.

    There were similar concerns with Edwin Jackson and many of us rationalized it away, but maybe it made a difference in retrospect.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hi Norway. We depended you for our daily number to clinch a playoff spot--is it too early to count how many days to ST?
    Happy Thanksgiving to you so far away.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks, Jonathan. John has in the past had a clock counting down to the start of spring training and/or opening day. Maybe he will do it again.

    Hope you and all Denizens had a nice holiday.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    H/IP went up a full hit and his HR Allowed total doubled.

    I wanted no part of him.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    have you watched tim lincecums career? its what happens with pitchers and should be known before hand. pitchers who rely on velocity should be cause for concern as they get older. obvious exceptions to the rule.

  • In reply to in theo we trust:

    Only from afar...

  • In reply to in theo we trust:

    Nolan Ryan obvbiously. Randy Johnson to some extent, but the BIg Unit didn't become a big leaguer until age 26 either. Only Tom Seaver comes to mind as a power pitcher who successfully transitioned into a fineese pitcher.

  • I think Zimmerman's price of $110M ($22M per) for what was a 3.72 fWAR over the last four years while Samardz is probably $18M ($72 + fifth year team option either 76M or $92M for five) for what is 3.05 fWAR when Steamer predicts only a 0.01 differences between the two.

    I think the Cubs have sent transparent signals out there and what they are looking for. Lackey is a 2.8 fWAR over the last three and predicted to be 2.6 from Steamer so he probably is attractive at Samardz's rate but for 2 yrs and an option.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    That makes a lot of sense and reflects how the Cubs often think these things through. Those are all very close but Samardzija and especially Lackey get you more bang for your buck.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    the thing about Lackey...he has experience and a bit of an edge to him. which is pretty much why they went out and got Lester...the experience and the edge (along with hes a darn good pitcher). Jake...had the edge...and now has some of the experience too.

    Lackey makes perfect sense and fits in great with the rotation.

    only downside is because of his age....might have to ease up on innings a bit during the regular season. which to me means the Cubs would have to get a younger horse for the rotation too...be it from Cleaveland, SD, or Atlanta via trade.

  • I raise the question because I don't know the answer. If the Cubs sign two FAs and give up two draft picks, do they lose the corresponding cap dollars? Or can they pool those dollars that apply to buy a player out of a commitment?

  • In the old system they could use the money to buy out a commitment but not any longer. No pick(s) no corresponding money.

  • Ken Rosenthal has a column this morning suggesting the Cubs max payroll will be $140M for the foreseeable future. That's in line with my sources suggesting that the Cubs payroll will be about 15% higher in 2016 vs. $120M in 2015.

    The Cubs have 7 guys on the roster, who are under contract at around $63M. They owe $14M to Edwin Jackson and Gerardo Concepcion. They have 7 guys who are arbitration eligible, who may make a combined $31M in 2016. And they have 24 other players on the 40 man roster, who at league minimum will make a combined $11M. That's a total of $119M for 38 players.

    So, if you assume a payroll of $140M, they have up to $21M to spend on 3 key needs: 2 starters and a CF. This is probably why they couldn't take immediate action on Jordan Zimmermann over the weekend.

    They do have some options for creating more payroll headroom this offseason. For example, they could free up $7M by trading Starlin Castro for prospects, which I have heard rumors about. They could free up another $6M and $4M by trading and/or non-tendering Travis Wood and Chris Coghlan, respectively. Miguel Montero's $14M might be viewed as a potential trade consideration (though all indications are he may be a trade candidate next year if the Cubs see progress out of Kyle Schwarber and/or WIllson Contreras in 2016). And finally, there's Jason Hammel's $11M, but that may only look attractive to certain teams much later in the offseason (and the Cubs have certainly not given any indication that they are looking to move him).

    Bottom line - on the surface, it doesn't look like they will be in on guys like Price, Grienke or Heyward unless the first year price for any of them is very reasonable like $15M, which seems like a pipe dream at this juncture.

    Precisely why I think we are hearing rumors of trades for young, controllable pitching (Braves, Padres, Indians, etc...) and interest in the "#3 in the rotation" free agent pitchers like Samardzija, Leake and Lackey.

    The Cubs have constraints.

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    In reply to hoopscubs:

    Yep, I read that article as well, and I think you are right on target. I think it was also in that article where they said Shark's arm looks like it just came out of the womb." For a team with financial constraints, he seems like a good target, since they would hopefully avoid injury. And it does lead one to believe a trade is possible. And that they may want to trade Castro at some point, if only to free up money.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Next offseason is interesting. The Cubs will have Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel off the books. That's $24M freed up. Assuming Travis Wood and Chris Coghlan are back this year, they will be free agents next year, so there's another $10M potentially freed up. And maybe they do move Montero next offseason and a chunk of his $14M (say 50% or $7M for argument's sake). The Cubs could walk into next offseason with $41M to spend. Maybe $16M of that goes into arbitration increases to Arietta, Rondon and Strop, but that would leave $25M to spend on a guy like Stephen Strasburg.

  • In reply to hoopscubs:

    Please, stay away from Strausburg. Hes got Mark Prior written all over him, and Im not talking the 2003 Prior either. Hes another TJ waiting to happen, still hasn't corrected the delivery that lead to his first TJS.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Doesn't Washington need a SS? How about Baez for strasburg?

  • In reply to Ceez:

    Washington's #2 prospect is SS Trea Turner.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I believed he even got a cup of coffee call up in sept.

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    In reply to hoopscubs:

    They are just going to have to get creative / backload the contracts.

    They are too close to not try and improve the team.

    Even if it leads to them having a 180 -190 million payroll in 2019-2020, it is what it is. It's not like they aren't making profits hand over fist even if they have to keep the payroll down this year and next.

    It's just time value of money if they want to play the economics game.

  • In reply to hoopscubs:

    They do have constraints but I think your numbers are a little high. After arb Rosenthal was using the $110 mil number not that far off from what's been reported locally as $105 mil. That's roughly $30 mil to spend before clearing any salary. Castro's due to make $8 mil and as you say you could non tender Wood and have $13 mil in savings right there giving them roughly $43 mil to spend. I posted elsewhere about this piece and wondered if they trade guys to fill all their holes and they just might but I wouldn't panic about it just yet.

  • One other idea, which we have used in our business, is the notion of "for every dollar you spend over the budget this year, you match it 1:1 in reductions the following year." So, the Ricketts family tells Theo he has $140M to spend on annual payroll in 2016-2017. But they might be agreeable to Theo spending $160M in 2016 if he commits to only spending $120M in 2017.

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