Cubs Organizational Depth: Starting Pitching

Chicago Cubs

Plenty has been written in recent days about how the Cubs should line up their impressive starting quintet and even whether they should consider making it a sextet. I won’t rehash any of those debates. We all have a pretty good handle on the situation by now. It should also make for an even more interesting discussion next spring when Drew Smyly is ready to compete for a job. How about a septet?


And that is without taking into consideration the potential for a prospect such as Adbert Alzolay pushing for a job. While I do not put much stock in the idea of trading Mike Montgomery any time soon, if the arms the Cubs currently have under contract remain healthy heading into next offseason the team will be in the enviable position of possessing excess starting pitching depth that they could use to fill another hole or help restock the depleted farm system.

Iowa Cubs

With the Chicago rotation in such a solid state thanks to the current health of the starters and the multiple years of team control the Cubs have over each moving forward there is a good chance the Iowa rotation will get to establish some stability of its own. Barring a rash of injuries the only way a young arm is going to break into the Chicago rotation is to pitch lights out so the young starters preparing to take on that challenge will need plenty of time to polish their repertoires.


None from the group currently assembled is likely to make that type of breakthrough but that is not to say the Iowa rotation is without prospects. Alec Mills and Jen-Ho Tseng may not have knockout stuff but they know how to use, and most importantly command, what they throw. Duane Underwood, Jr. is the highest upside arm of the bunch. He has the best arm strength, and flashes four average or better pitches at times, but has never developed a consistent out pitch. Mills and Tseng have both received cups of coffee in the bigs and Rob Zastryzny and Luke Farrell have seen MLB time as well so it is an experienced group should the need arise to call upon any of them.

Adbert Alzolay

Adbert Alzolay

Adbert Alzolay will work his way into the rotation at some point, possibly as soon as the start of the season, which could bump one of the non-roster players out of the org, or the team could try to pass Luke Farrell through waivers as six starting pitchers in Iowa on the 40-man roster is a bit of overkill. If Eddie Butler fails to make the 25-man roster and then clears waivers he would carve out a regular rotation spot as well. Rob Zastryzny could always be dropped to the bullpen, which is where his MLB future likely lies anyway, to make room.

Fortunately for these pitchers, just like Zastryzny they may all be best suited for a bullpen gig in the future, and the Cubs situation in that area is far less settled.

Depth options: Daniel Camarena, Michael Roth, Ryan Williams, Williams Perez

Non-roster invitees Daniel Camarena and Michael Roth are a pair of lefties that can be deployed to help balance the rotation and provide depth. The 26-year old Camarena progressed slowly through the Yankees system despite plenty of success. He has under 50 innings of experience at AAA which is unusual for a Minor League free agent. Meanwhile, Roth has plenty of AAA experience with three different organizations the past three seasons, as well as three short stints in the Majors with Angels and Rangers.

Iowa’s 2016 opening day starter, Ryan Williams, has seen his career sidetracked by shoulder injuries the past two years. If he can regain his former stuff and stay healthy he would put himself back on the prospect map and could challenge for a Major League job down the road.

The future of Williams Perez is in doubt following the recent shooting death of his Venezuelan pitching coach. All reports I have seen indicate that Perez pulled the trigger but some also point out that it could have been an accidental shooting. Regardless, Perez was indicted on illegal possession of a firearm and “guilty homicide” charges earlier this week so at the very least his 2018 season, and potentially his career are over. Even if he is cleared of the homicide charge it seems likely Perez will have difficulty regaining entry to the United States. 

Tennessee Smokies

Oscar De La Cruz

Oscar De La Cruz

This is where things get interesting. Tennessee could begin the year with three of the best prospects in the system at the top their rotation. Or it may end up with only one. The one most assured to be a part of the rotation is Thomas Hatch. He spent all of 2017 in Myrtle Beach and then received a non-roster invite to big league camp this spring. Hatch is likely to see Iowa by the end of the year, but his place to start 2018 will be with the Smokies. Alzolay could join him but with a strong spring could just as easily start the season in Des Moines.

The wild card is Oscar De La Cruz. When healthy his stuff will certainly play at this level. But that is the sticking point: his health. He has struggled to stay on the mound and build up innings counts in recent seasons so the club may choose to hold him back in extended spring training as a precaution or as a way to control his innings count this season.


The questions do not end there however. Trevor Clifton is a big mystery after his second half collapse. He has to prove he is healthy and his stuff is back to 2016 form to get his development back on track. Justin Steele will miss at least the first half of the season after requiring Tommy John surgery in the second half of 2017. If he is able to make a quick recovery he might get a look down the stretch, but it’s more likely we do not see him outside of Mesa this season. To round out the rotation the Smokies could turn to Michael Rucker or Duncan Robinson. Both moved quickly through A ball last year before finishing strong in Myrtle Beach.

Depth options: Zach Hedges, Erick Leal, Preston Morrison

A power sinker and average slider led Zach Hedges to a strong 2016 campaign when he closed out the year with eight very good starts for the Smokies. He pitched effectively in a return to their rotation in 2017, but his slider took a step back, and when he received a look in Iowa during midseason he was absolutely bombed in four starts. His sinker still generates ground balls but until he discovers a consistent second offering he will have difficulty progressing.

Erick Leal was 10-4 with a 3.23 ERA for Myrtle Beach in 2016 before missing last season. His fastball/curve/change combo is fringy but he commanded it well pre-injury and changed speeds effectively.

Soft tossing Preston Morrison dominated both A-ball levels in 2016 (12-4, 2.11 ERA) but was unable to get his stuff to translate in his first go-round in Tennessee last year (1-10, 5.51 ERA).

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Bryan Hudson

Bryan Hudson

If Tennessee is where things get interesting, Myrtle Beach is where things start to get conjested. The entire five man rotation from South Bend last season deserves the opportunity to move up to Myrtle Beach. Bryan Hudson made big strides in terms of control and should be ready to lead the Pelicans rotation in 2018. Fellow lefty Jose Paulino put together a strong second half and as a member of the 2011 IFA class he needs to begin accelerating his timetable. They may not be the highest upside arms in the system but Tyson Miller and Manny Rondon proved effective in South Bend and need to be tested against higher levels of competition to determine whether further priority as starters is necessary moving forward or if they will get squeezed into bullpen roles. Erling Moreno suffered through some injuries and inconsistencies in 2017 but if he is right this spring he should push his way into consideration as well.


But those five will likely have to compete for time with potential returnees Duncan Robinson, Michael Rucker and Oscar De La Cruz as well the more advanced collegiate arms from the Cubs 2017 draft class. I’ve slotted Cory Abbott in this group as he struck me as the most advanced from the group that debuted in Eugene last summer but we could just as easily see Alex Lange or Keegan Thompson make the jump too.

Depth options: Matt Swarmer, Ryan Kellogg

Matt Swarmer proved to be a valuable org arm in 2017 by making starts across four levels, all the way from short season Eugene to a pair of emergency starts in AA and another in AAA. I look for him to fill a similar role this season.

A 5th rounder out of Arizona State in 2015, lanky lefty Ryan Kellogg found success with South Bend in 2016, but then struggled in his first crack at A+. He does not possess a plus pitch, does not miss bats, does not generate ground balls or neutralize left handed hitters so it is difficult to project any type of future role for him unless he finds a way to add movement to his offerings.

South Bend Cubs

I said Myrtle Beach is where it starts to get conjested but it is in South Bend that conjested turns into rush hour on the Kennedy Expressway. This is of course a good “problem” to have, but it will require some nimble maneuvering by manager Jimmy Gonzalez and pitching coach Brian Lawrence to keep everyone on track throughout the season. There is really no way to accomplish the task without use of extensive piggybacking throughout the season.


The Cubs went heavy with college starters in the 2017 draft and it is possible that their top five picks all begin the year in the South Bend rotation. The reason why I believe at least one or more will be challenged with the leap to Myrtle Beach right out of the gate is that the group of young starters ready to graduate from Eugene is really talented as well. Of course we all know about Jose Albertos at this point, but Jesus Camargo put together a Northwest League All-Star campaign in 2017 while Javier Assad struck out more than a batter per inning. The club will also need to make room for Bailey Clark who saw a late season call up to South Bend before returning to Duke to finish his degree last fall.

Jose Albertos

Jose Albertos

Depth options: Enrique De Los Rios, Carson Sands

Enrique De Los Rios flashes arm strength and some feel for secondaries. He bounced between the Eugene rotation and bullpen as the need arose last season and could fill the same role in South Bend, or they could choose to hold him back in order to give him a crack in the Eugene rotation full time.

It was not a smooth road back from injury for Carson Sands in 2017. His control completely abandoned him at times and his stuff did not look particularly sharp even when he found the plate. The former 4th rounder once featured a low-90s sinking fastball and a solid curveball but it has been two years now since we’ve seen either. He is still just 22 years old, so there is still time for him to make a comeback, but with the pitching depth the Cubs now possess throughout the system there is a real danger of him getting left behind if he can’t rediscover his groove this season.


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  • fb_avatar

    Michael--thank you so much for all this research. By putting all the minor league levels in one place makes it much easier to see how each is doing and what pitchers we'll be watching through the year. This is so helpful. Thanks again.

  • Ditto Jonathan’s kudos, Michael.

    Could you list all of De La Cruz’s injuries? Or if anyone else knows... Just curious. Thanks.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    He has never had anything serious and has never undergone any type of surgery. Just a bunch of soft tissue issues that have plagued him.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Basically he is the pitching equivalent of Jorge Soler.

    Huge dude that looks the part, but may not be as flexible as he needs to be in order to avoid injury.

    Or he is just unlucky.

    Take your pick :)

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thank you. I was just curious because if it was arm/elbow/shoulder related I would be more concerned & more inclined to brush him off as a possible contributor sooner rather than later. Whether that’s for Cubs or as a trade chip. But it looks like he can still be the highly touted prospect they they thought he was. Hopefully this is his statement year.

  • Excellent summary, Michael! It's comforting that the Cubs have pitching in the system that could be ready as current contracts expire (or team options are available), and "the enviable position of possessing excess starting pitching depth that they could use to fill another hole or help restock the depleted farm system" is exciting! Add the extra picks the Cubs get for Davis and (hopefully) Arrieta in this year's draft, and the future is even brighter!

  • I like how it sets up payroll wise. Potential extensions for positional players will be coming in 2020/2021. Around $60M will be coming off the books just in starting pitching that year. That gives management 3 years to develop a couple of top arms for the rotation.

    I'd keep drafting those arms. Use the international money to replenish positional depth.

  • As a visual person, this post was awesome. Really puts things in a clear way to see the depth of the arms throughout the system.

    I am really looking forward to the Tennessee season and following this rotation. Will be interesting to see who makes strides and puts pressure on a call up to Iowa.

    I for one am a fan of Tseng. He was clearly shaken in his first start against NY but he struck out 6 in his 3 innings. His other appearance was very good as well. Still only 23 years old he could be someone that the team uses as a chip for a closer at the deadline, if he can show continued improvement in his game and his stuff.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I like that Tseng trusts his stuff. He commands it well enough to keep it out of the middle of the zone most of the time, but he isn't afraid to challenge guys with a fastball, nor is he afraid to throw an offspeed pitch behind in the count. He knows how to pitch, he just doesn't have a high ceiling. But I do expect him to figure out a way to be a MLB contributor, whether that is in Chicago or elsewhere remains to be seen.

  • Isn't there a good chance they lose Butler if he doesn't make the 25 man roster?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Yes. But until that happens he is considered part of the depth. It is also not certain that he would be claimed on waivers if they did try to send him to AAA.

    Also, Justin Grimm's contract is not guaranteed, and if they send him down to AAA before April 16th he can elect free agency but he would be giving up his 2.2M salary, which he is unlikely to get on the open market so he may be willing to play in Iowa. he would still have to pass through waivers, but again at 2.2M there is a good chance he would not get claimed. So there is chance that Butler could beat out Grimm for the final spot in the pen out of spring training and the club could manage to hold on to both despite them being out of options.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    If Grimm would stop throwing 58' curve balls, he wouldn't have everyone sitting on his fastball.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I'd say yes since he'd have to be exposed on waivers before being sent to the minors. However, the Cubs may be able to sneak him through, but I think the odds are good that he is gone by the end of the spring training because hard throwing pitchers for nothing money in baseball terms is something all teams are willing to gamble on.

  • With contracts to Lester (i think cubs can resign him for 3 more years), Quintana, Hendricks and Chatwood all end after the 2020 season. 2021 will be the year 2 or 3 of these starters need to be ready. It looks like that should about be the time they start showing up in volume.
    Theo' s plan looks pretty solid.

    Also glad to see Paulino bounced back. His stuff for a lefty is awfully good.

  • Cubs place Drew Smyly on the 60 Day DL (expected)

    Reliever Shae Simmons, who agreed to a contract yesterday, has been added to the roster in his place.

    So if the Cubs plan to utilize Chris Gimenez as the backup catcher this year a corresponding roster move will still need to be made. Could simply be Eddie Butler if he doesn't win a job out of camp as he is out of options and likely gets claimed on waivers if they try to send him to Iowa. Others clinging to the final 40 man roster spots include starter Luke Farrell and relievers Justin Grimm, Cory Mazzoni, Randy Rosario.

    Cubs may also consider Peter Bourjos for a 40-man spot if he has a strong spring.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Smyly was doing agility drills with the pitchers at this morning's workout.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Mariners traded one of their top prospects for Simmons and another player only a year ago. Seems like he has significant upside if he can ever stay healthy.

  • In reply to seattlecub:

    He was considered a potential closer in 2014. But missed all of 2015 due to TJS and then hasn't been able to find consistency since. His velocity came back fully post surgery but his control, which was never great, has taken a step back while his breaking ball wasn't as sharp either.

    He is worth taking a look at as a depth piece with upside but at this point is not someone they should count on.

  • We don' know how many of these pitchers will make it, but it is
    very good to have so many in our system. With the price of FA
    SP going up this is the way to go

  • We don' know how many of these pitchers will make it, but it is
    very good to have so many in our system. With the price of FA
    SP going up this is the way to go

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    We've got to get lucky with a few of them. Even a blind squirrel finds a few nuts.

  • In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    The guys I feel the best about being future starters are:
    De La Cruz

    The rest of the guys probably projects better as a relievers. But a lot of them could become very good relievers.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I think the FO has high hopes that two will be TOR starters and one will need to be a 5th starter.

    Michael, which guys do you see that have the stuff and the
    make-up to be TOR starters?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    None of these guys can be a Kershaw or peak Arrieta level pitchers. But potential Hendricks/Quintana level guys?

    Albertos has the best stuff and most potential, but he is still far away and hasn't ramped up his innings load at all so it is difficult to gauge if he'll have the durability and stamina for the role. My guy says yes, but it is an open question.

    Alzolay is the best bet. Not only is he physically mature and close to the Majors but from all reports he receives very high marks for his intelligence, diligence and work ethic. He apparently understands the game at a high level, identifies tendencies in hitters well, etc. He is a bulldog out on the mound that works quickly and dictates the pace of the game. Fans will love him.

    His fastball and curve are both plenty good enough to get MLB hitters out. The one limiting factor of whether he becomes a MOR instead of a TOR guy is his lack of a third pitch. His changeup is something he knows he needs to work on. It is really the only hole in his game right now but it is one I expect he figures out during the 2018 season. He may break in with the Cubs as a reliever just because there won't be room for him anywhere in the rotation but I think he will force their hand at some point in 2019 if an injury doesn't open up a spot before then.

    De La Cruz is really the only other guy with that type of potential. His fastball/curve combo is just a tick below Alzolay but he's shown better feel for a changeup. He could have the whole package: 3 above avg pitches along with above average command. If he can just stay on the mound.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Hatch doesn't have the stuff to be a one or two?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    No. He could become a MOR guy if he improves his command without losing any bite on his stuff, but I think he is more of a Jason Hammel level pitcher. When everything is on he could pitch like a 2/3 but is more of a guy you want to slot in as a 4/5.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I see Tseng, Rucker, Williams and the like as solid #5 starters.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Hatch, Hudson, Tseng, and Abbott are my best bets as BOR starters. A couple of them might end up more than that. Lange and Little have that upside as well but I don't love their deliveries right now so until I see them make some adjustments and show consistent ability to command their pitches I think there is a better chance they end up as impact relievers than impact starters.

    Rucker intrigues me and I think he does have BOR upside, but I think they will have other options and I think his stuff translates better to the pen than your typical BOR starter so I think he is more likely to end up as a reliever eventually.

    I loved Williams heading into 2016. Heavy fastball and very good command. He mixed his three secondaries well even though they were all probably a tick below average. If he hadn't gotten hurt I really think he would have taken the role Butler had in 2017 and could have made the Chatwood signing to replace Lackey unnecessary. But I just don't know where he is at now. Shoulder injuries scare me.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Have you heard any updates on Williams lately? Will he start the year on the DH or is he ready to start pitching?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Woops never mind. I just noticed that you wrote that you don't know where he is at now. Excellent article though.

  • When you add in that Blackburn is starting for OAK, Rosscup is with COL, Leathersich has a good shot in the PIT pen, Floro got an invite from CIN, and wherever Frankoff and Pierce Johnson are hiding, the rap on developing/advancing arms is really unfair. Probably the position player graduations have been so spectacular that the critics set the bar at a nearly unobtainable level. Blackburn was part of the trade for Montgomery, with Vogelbach, and the others all pitched for the Cubs in 2017.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    Hendricks is an example of never knowing what you have until they get to the big show.

    What Hendricks showed was obviously amazing control. But more importantly consistent success.

  • fb_avatar

    What do you think on Clifton? Does he jump back into top prospect status this year?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I really can't say until I get a look at him this year. I sure hope he rediscovered his 2016 former during the offseason

  • If Smyly and Alzolay are gonna be ready to be in rotation next year. Why do they tie up 6 years with a guy when they have Lester for another 4 or so, Q, Hendricks hopefully for years to come????

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    There is no guarantee that Alzolay will pitch in MLB. There are way too many things that can happen between today and that first appearance let alone TOR dominance. It is also possible that Smyly never becomes an effective MLB player. Quality organizations accumulate talent and let things sort themselves out.

    Years and years ago, a MLB GM was telling a pool of reporters that he was so excited because he had 7 MLB quality starting pitchers in Spring Training. He was giddy. By the end of May, they had 2 healthy pitchers. I don't know how the human body can stay healthy doing what pitchers do.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Because Smyly is no sure thing coming back from his injury and Alzolay is not a sure thing until his changeup improves.

    Injuries happen and this team is trying to win multiple WS. They had the opportunity to add a TOR starter at a reasonable cost so they took it. They can always explore trading Monty/Chatwood next year if everyone is healthy and ready to contribute.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Absolutely agree.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Well they have Lester, Quintana, Chatwood and Hendricks for the next three years guaranteed. Lester does have an option for 2021, but it would seem likely that if the Cubs have the option they would prefer not to pay a 37 year old Jon Lester $25 million. Smyly likely will work out of the bullpen to start and Alzolay could certainly find a home there to start as they slowly ramp up his innings.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Think of it this way. Alzolay throws a 97 MPH fastball. Wouldn't it be nice to be so incredibly stacked that they can use that in the bullpen (where he might even gain a tick or two) for a season or two? It's what the Cardinals did -- to decent success -- with Martinez.

    Listen, I've been as loud a critic as anyone of their inability to develop pitching and the negative consequences. But a stacked rotation and the ability to slowly introduce our own people into the big leagues isn't really a problem.

    And let's be honest, if Alzolay turns into the right handed Clayton Kershaw in Iowa (unlikely), they can always find a way to move Chatwood or Lester (if he'll agree -- who knows) or simply put Chatwood into the bullpen for a terrifying playoff staff. (Hey, you get to face Yu Darvish for 5 innings and then the letdown is Chatwood to Morrow! Good luck.)

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    The Cubs end up with a SURPLUS of starting pitching, without trading any key prospects (after Quintana) and that's not a good thing? The answer to your question is - because a 6 year contract is what it took to get the pitching they need NOW. If Darvish pitches well, it's very likely he'll opt out for year three anyway.


  • Starting Minor league pitching is the true currency in MLB. I'd expect most of these guys to be traded as they come up thru the system, so keep them coming! The Cubs can continue to follow the Yankees path of the early 2000s -- young, homegrown position core supplemented by experienced pitchers acquired thru FA or trades.

    Since the needs on the field aren't significant at the moment, I'd also consider including in salary dumps. e.g. Heyward, Hatch and De La Cruz for some reliever / and a minor league back up shortstop. If that enables Harper, count me in.

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    I really don't see all the hype on Harper/$30 per, IF the cubs young players perform at the pace they are expected, and we already have an abundance of talented players who are exceeding, why bring in a player who most likely cause you to shed 2 or 3 of them just to put a strain on your budget ?
    I would rather keep my wallet open for some pitching that will available, this is predicated on our young players all taking the next step. Signing Harper might mean you can't keep Rizzo, maybe Russel or Baez, even Contrares....

  • In reply to tater:

    I agree with you tater. Harper is going to cost a bunch and we already will have a tough time keeping many of our own players. It just is not good team construction if you get Harper and lose 2 to 3 other good young positional players.

  • In reply to tater:

    Given the reports on what Scott Boras is demanding for 30 year old JD Martinez ($200M, while turning his nose up at Boston's $125M / 5 year offer), I'm having my doubts that ANYONE will be able to sign Harper next year.

    I have no inside sources, just going by the same stories that you'all are reading, but it seems as though Boras is not "negotiating" this year. His clients have received offers, but Boras is ignoring them while sticking to his "perceived value". Looks like Jake and JD are going to take their toys and go home this year until they receive "perceived value". Again, I am only a fan and reader, but I don't call this "negotiating" a new contract.

    Here's hoping that Boras clients Kris Bryant, Albert Almora Jr., and Addison Russell are keeping a close eye on all this.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    At this point Almora and Addi are not in same conversation as Martinez or even I the same book as Harper or Bryant.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Not sure I understand your reply.

    JD, Jake, Bryce Harper, Albert Almora Jr. and Addison Russell all have the same agent - Scott Boras. That puts them all in the same conversation. And since I started the conversation, .... :)

    One would assume that Scott Boras will apply the same "negotiation" strategy that he is currently employing with JD and Jake. Different numbers, obviously, but still the same "give us our perceived value or I am taking my toys and going home" strategy.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    My point is Addi and Almora will not be getting the same money as Martinez, Harper or Bryant regardless if they have the same agent.

  • In reply to tater:

    I’ll play contrarian here. 1.) It’s Bryce Harper & an upgrade over every one of the Cub OFers by leaps & bounds offensively & at minimum equal to the best Cub OFer defensively. 2.) If those Cubs young players perform at the pace expected, they will become expensive in their own right. 3.) Which means there’s no guarantee that they’ll re-up in free agency or extend contracts to play here. 4.) They’d then be able to get good returns in trades for the ones they can’t keep. 5.) Harper’s just 25 & would be locked up most likely thru the rest of his prime.

    That said, I’m not saying they should sign him. But I’m ok if they do swing for him & ok if they don’t, and ok if they swing & miss... They can cross those bridges with the young players when they get there. That shouldn’t stop them from upgrading before.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    But what you fail to cover is Harper is going to cost more than all of the Cubs OFs combined. The pundits say he will be seeking 400 to 500 million. That is the most important aspect. Of course he is better than every OF the Cubs currently have. But is he giving the most bang for the buck. IMO the Cubs will get more bang for the buck by keeping what they currently have. Now if Harper is willing to take significantly less then of course Theo will listen. We will do our due diligence and talk to Harper.

  • In reply to John57:

    Well Tater said Harper/$30 per I presumed he meant $30 million per year. That’s more like $300 mil for ten yrs. I’m confident Theo & Jed know what the market should be for the guy & years they can sign him for. Harper’s a HoFer. And my points addressed Taters concerns & were why the Cubs would consider signing Harper at $30 per.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    IMO the Cubs will not sign Harper for 30M per year. 1) the offense does not need him because we have a very good offense currently. 2) the team weakness is pitching, they will spend FA money on pitching. 3) 30M is a lot of money to spend in an area that is already a strength. 4) after the just ended off season, the team seems to be pretty much set for the next 3 years. I don't see how an extra 30M salary can be squeezed under the luxury cap.

  • In reply to John57:

    Agree completely John,

    Say we win the WS this year.....or....even get to it......why would you drop at least 30 mil+ a year on one guy when you already have the young positional players that got you there, will be good for years and will demand and deserve more money? The Cubs are strenghtening the weaker link of the team which is the pitching now and know the other 8 on the field are solid.

    We are in good shape......don’t need Harper.....that money should be going to the Cub who is as good.........#17.

  • In reply to John57:

    Some of that is fair opinions. I’m on the fence & could go either way.

    To your points though, not in any particular order: 4) There’s no guarantee they’ll be under the cap every season... Theo has said they may not always be under the cap because winning is more important. 2) Pitching rotation (Lester, Darvish & Chatwood to some extent) has already been spent heavily on along w/Q & Kyle there. Morrow, Cishek & Duensing were the main BP acquisitions. So not sure, other than maybe another late inning/closer here or there, what they need to spend more FA money on for pitching... 3) a. Zobrist is aging & on the decline. b. Heywards bat has been a disappointment. c. Almora is not a proven everyday player yet. d. Teams upgrade a strength. e. And then can deal from that strength if needed/wanted to upgrade another area... 1). We don’t know will happen this season. Players can get hurt or regress. Harper would be a HoF bonafide, legit upgrade to the defense & offensive lineup w/Rizzo, Bryant & Contreras. The rest of the lineup still has some ? marks surrounding each & every one of them. Although some not as big as others.

    The Dodgers, & to some degree the Nationals, shut this current lineup down. I do not believe this FO will sit on their hands & be complacent.

    That doesn’t mean Harper signs here or they go all out to sign him. It just means there are plenty of reasons why they could. And that’s where I’ve been coming from by playing the contrarion. Can’t just be dismissed out of hand.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    You have some good points too.

  • Thank you for all of the research, analysis, and writing that you put into this Michael!

    Several years ago, when I first found Cubs Den, John wrote 2 columns - one on the top 10 Cub position player prospects and one on the top ten Cub pitching prospects. The first column was a piece of cake, However, When he ended the second column, John still had several fingers left standing. It is truly amazing what the current Cub owner and organization have been able to accomplish.

    Go Cubs!

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    I too joined the blog around that time and remember that posting. Our system is considered down now, but it's sure healthier than back in those days.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Thank you for the kind words everyone.

  • My last comment is stuck in the Sin Bin .
    Or maybe it is holding out for a better offer.

  • I’m new to commenting here but I have been following the site for years. This is a great piece Michael. It gives me a better feel for what I can expect out of these guys in the future. Thanks again.

  • Twins have acquired Jake Odorizzi. Number of teams getting smaller who are looking for starting pitchers. If I was Arrieta, Cobb or Lynn I be getting worried now.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Wow... Free agency is a risk for the teams, so it’s only fair that it’s a risk for the players now as well. Maybe guys should consider those extensions when they’re offered. Or at the very least negotiate with the team & avoid FA. Some seem to have over estimated their worth &/or the market, so a team turns a trade to fill their need, taking one less player for their services out.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Milk Stout:

    Hosmer signed by the Padres (Finally) for 8 years w a 5 yr opt out. Great deal for Hosmer and Boras. I didn't think he would get more then 6 yrs w perhaps an option year or 2 based on at bats / team choice.

    A guy w a career .439 slug %, this is a great deal for him considering he plays an offense/slugging position. The Padres better hope he's a 50 double hitter and a great leader for the young guys to lead them in their next phase.

  • FYI: The Indians announced Friday that right-hander Danny Salazar “experienced an onset of right shoulder rotator cuff inflammation” last month during his offseason throwing program. The 28-year-old is “a couple weeks” behind the rest of the pitchers in Indians camp, per the announcement. He has at least resumed throwing.

    Even w/out seeing that, I’m glad the Cubs got Quintana for the ammo paid than Salazar. This just confirms it.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    FWIW, that was from MlbTr.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I second that!

  • JD signs with Boston for 5/110.........wasn’t the original offer weeks ago 5/125 and it was turned down?

    Jake will wind up getting less too.....gotta think the Cubs are still in play but I just don’t want to see him in any NL red uniform.

    The contracts are now being front loaded....and the Cub rumored offer earlier was 5/110......interesting.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    The Martinez thing is so strange. You have to wonder if there was a 5/$125 offer in the first place and also at 5/$110 why didn't Arizona step up and beat that? My first reaction was that Martinez go hosed, but if he really turned down $125 he hosed himself. I thought the original $210 ask was silly but thought he was objectively worth about $140 mil. You do wonder about Arrieta now though. I've always thought he'd end up in Philly and they seem to be the most serious bidder at this point you just wonder on the money.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wickdipper:

    It's super front-loaded. He can leave after 2 years (not-so-coincidentally on the other side of free agent nirvana next winter) having pocked $50 million and then retry the market.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I have not seen how Darvish's contract was structured. Have you?

  • In reply to John57:

    I have. MlbTR had it. BR has it up now also, however, minus the CY Young incentives.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John57:

    Without the incentives, it is similarly front loaded but not as extreme. There are still some subtle incentives for him to bolt if he's playing well.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    There is $24M in incentives for Darvish's contract. The only incentives I have heard or read about is the $2M for Cy Young and $1M for I think 2-5 in the voting. Not sure what the other $12M is though.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    As much as I hate this term "the new normal" may be what we are looking at in these new contracts. Front-loaded, long-term deals, with opt-outs and lesser guaranteed money. This isn't so much the younger twitter crowd saying that 30+-year-old players are geriatric as it is an unintended consequence of the newly-enacted CBA.

    I'm sure we'll have much discussion of this, but it really is worthy of debate on it's own.

  • Rumor has it Boras thought that 5/$125M was to much money so they asked for less. That's just the kind of guy Boras is.

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