Paring to (and Through?) the Core... the Conclusion


“When my fist clenches, crack it open.
Before I use it and lose my cool.
When I smile, tell me some bad news.
Before I laugh and act like a fool.”

Let’s try this again…

I was attempting to carry my previous article into the various trade scenarios being bantered about in the media. Click-bait articles abound, with KB teamed with either Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, Willson joining his brother in Atlanta, even the unthinkable notion of the new “Mr. Cub” Anthony Rizzo in a different uniform. It may all seem absurd, but I double-checked and it actually may be reality. Our organization has made several missteps and it’s time to pay the piper. I even heard about this one rumor where we trade El Mago, and then I placed my fingertips into my ears while screaming “La la la la la la la la la…”.

It wasn’t that last trade proposal that shut me down, it was the cloud. I had an article all planned out, taking us through the various trade scenarios that are all too real, hence the article title and featured image, the infamous “dead-man’s hand”. It seems as though dealing from the core will be a thing this offseason. I had it all laid out, with values and returns and options, and then all of a sudden, much like our visions of a large-market dynasty with competent management and superior talent, POOF! All gone. Lost to the interwebs gods, along with our hopes of multiple titles within this window. Arrrgh!

The Winter Meetings are upon us. Baseball’s top wares will be open for bidding, with all the shiney new models on full display, but our team will not be shopping at the high end. We can probably peruse the bargain racks with our hands clenched tightly around our available currency. That’s what happens when dad gets frustrated seeing you blow your allowance and cuts off the spigot. You gotta get creative.

So, we’ll be the ones with the lemonade stand outside MLB’s Winter Meetings. It will be an impressive stand, no doubt. It will have plump and juicy lemons ready to refresh eager consumers. But the lemons we squeeze will still be sour, and the sign will still say “For Sale”.

Here we are. I fully expect a step back in 2020. We’re not going full-on rebuild, that’s just not happening. There are reasons to hope for it, if nothing else than to relive the nostalgia of the last euphoric path. We have already spent that “patient” currency with the fanbase, and now there are expectations. Not to mention the ratings of a new TV deal. Never underestimate the power of the dollar. No, we will re-tool, which isn’t a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with this core, it is the cast around them that is lacking. In the magical 2016 season we had 11 quality players for 8 starting positions, and fretted daily over how to evenly broadcast the playing time. Now we do the fingertip-in-the-ears trick when Anthony has a sore back or Javy jams a thumb. We need to turn the roster, and we will.

This is a point that can be a discussion in itself, but I’ll just do the quick highlights: what we do this offseason will depend immensely on where our 2020 payroll is set to be. I’ve talked to people I trust who have very divergent opinions on where they expect our payroll to be. Most expect us to stay about the same, in the $230M range, just below the highest tier of tax penalties. If that’s the case, we can tinker around the edges and pick our spots. We’ll pay the penalties and re-shuffle the deck. The one we’ve already stacked against ourselves.

I also hear some voices, loud and proud but in the minority, that there is a real desire within the organization to get below the $208M minimum threshold, and thereby reset our penalties heading into 2021. The reasoning is to let new manager Ross and a completely re-made FO structure have a year to establish a foot hold. Compete in 2020 (anything is possible) but be prepared to shop for big free agents again next offseason. Remember, going over the tax thresholds costs money, which we have. The real sting comes when you are over the threshold *AND* sign a free agent with a QO attached. That costs draft picks. The more years you are over, and by how much, compounds the loss of picks. With our new (?!?!) focus on drafting and development, we can’t lose picks. There is a possibility that we get our 2020 payroll under $208M, and I mention this because it could affect the deals we make. Kris Bryant will bring a return, but also salary relief. Willson may bring a bigger player/prospect return, but not so much in salary relief. Just something to keep in mind when pondering the possibilities. If we do go the “salary dump” route, don’t be too discouraged. That almost certainly means we are setting up for a monster 2021.

I’ll focus here on position players, because that’s where the excess value lies. The rotation is nearly set but aging, the bullpen is a bullpen (or about half of one, currently) and the bench players come and go. All of those areas are where Championship clubs separate themselves, but we’re not a Championship club tweaking the edges. We have to deal a core player; the lack of development and vision has left us no other choice.

So, with a heavy heart, here are the players who are on the block. I suppose every player is on the block, but there is no reason to list them all. We are trying to cash in on excess value to plug other holes in our roster and potentially extend this window. There are only five players with enough excess value to make a significant impact, and I expect one or more to be dealt. In my best Kelly/Bud Bundy voice: “Thanks, Theo!”:

KRIS BRYANT: KB is all the rage in the headlines, and for good reason: his name gets clicks. Keep that in mind. I’ve seen countless takes that we need to trade him to obtain value with the two* remaining years of control, as if trading him is the only way to get value. I disagree, reminding people that having a former and potentially future MVP adds tremendous value to a team in the midst of a competitive window. His case checks all the boxes for media hyperbole: superstar player, potentially massive contract, and an agent whose name alone brings views.

*The grievance Bryant filed against the Cubs regarding service-time manipulation is pending, and won’t be resolved for a couple more weeks at least. While there is near-unanimous consensus he will lose, the uncertainty of whether he can become a free agent in one year or two certainly affects his trade value. For that reason, I don’t expect a deal until this issue is resolved, although I’m certain all trade negotiations are based on two more years of arbitration eligibility.

KB is projected to receive $18.5M in salary arbitration in 2020, and an estimated $25-28M in 2021. Team control, yes; cheap control, no. This fact must be taken into account when contemplating return packages in any trade. Following a staggering and historic run of achievements and accolades through college, the minors, and his initial years of MLB, Bryant has dealt with injuries the past two seasons. These injury concerns, along with the aforementioned grievance questions, put his exact trade value in doubt. I have confidence that modern executives see him as I do, a future HOF’er, and will value him as such. Whether that value comes as a 3B, his current position, or a future 1B/CO remains to be seen, but could actually increase the number of potential suitors inquiring about his services.

I’ve always been loathe to propose “this player(s) for that player(s)” trade scenarios. There is too much I don’t know about internal evaluations and valuations for me to act like I know anything, and I’ll avoid specific proposals here as well. I’m sure we’ll discuss in the comments, and maybe I’ll even let my hair down a bit. Yet there are general expectations and comparable trades and returns to reference. If we are to deal Bryant, I would expect one MLB-ready impact player, a top-10-ish prospect, and at least another top-100 prospect.

Nearly every team wanting to compete in 2020 will be interested in Bryant (does that include us? Serious question.), and they should be. The FA market at the hot corner has a couple big dogs at the top with Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson. I’d be surprised if Rendon leaves Washington (note: Just prior to publishing, Washington has re-signed Strasburg to a 7yr/$245M deal. About $80M of that total is said to be deferred, so I’m curious how this affects their attempts to retain Rendon), and I don’t see Donaldson returning to Atlanta. That makes the Braves a prime candidate with which to do business, and I Know the Pieces Fit. Nearly half of the teams in baseball will have legitimate interest, so this will be interesting. I would keep an eye on Washington (if Rendon leaves), Atlanta, Philadelphia, Texas, San Diego, and whatever that team in that other league that resides somewhere in Southern California in the vicinity of Anaheim/Los Angeles/California is calling themselves these days.

My personal prediction is that KB will be dealt, but not until the resolution of his grievance. In a sick twist of irony, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the very day it is resolved, much like his call-up. I think this has as much to do with salary relief as the return package, and now my fist begins to clench again.

WILLSON CONTRERAS: Willson!!! I find myself screaming and crying like Tom Hanks at the thought of Contreras drifting away to another franchise. I would gladly release the tether of my suspect vessel to retrieve my wayward muse. Whether it is for future inspiration or the comforting cradle of past memories, I hold Willson dear. Perhaps I was led in that direction by a writer and blogger I truly admired, and don’t want to let go.

Contreras is a valuable commodity, in great demand, and possibly nets a larger return than Bryant. Willson is arguably the best offensive catcher in baseball, and is just entering his first of three years of arbitration eligibility. He is projected at $4.5M in 2020. Grandal, d’Arnaud, Narvaez, and other available options have already been taken off the board, likely increasing the interest and value we would receive in a potential deal.

A comparable package to envision in dealing Willson would be the Realmuto deal to Philly, and possibly larger. Contreras is a rare commodity in terms of talent, cost control, and positional impact. We should be compensated accordingly.

Potential suitors should include the Tampa Rays (I refuse to call them Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is a body of water, not the location of a land-based sports franchise. We are not the Lake Michigan Cubs), Toronto, perhaps the prickly partners in Cincinnati or the South Side, and of course the Team Formally Known as the California Angels.

My belief is that Willson is gone. My sadistic dream is that he is dealt to the DirtyBirds to replace Yadi and laugh in his face, but this is also a nightmare. This is a classic example of dealing from a position of strength to address weakness. We have some strength in Caratini, and more in Amaya. We have weakness everywhere else. This stinks, I disapprove, and this leads me to the next trade target…

JAVIER BAEZ: “La,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la.





ANTHONY RIZZO: Yes, given our current predicament and future needs, even this cornerstone may be dangled. Save your angst, shock, and disillusionment. I didn’t do it.

The new “Mr. Cub” steadily puts up MVP-worthy offensive numbers and GG defense, and is a fine fellow to boot. The Cubs exercised a $16.5M club option for 2020, and hold the same for 2021. I would assume he, like every other member of the “core”, is actively involved in extension negotiations and the feelings coming out of those talks, from both sides, are influencing the intensity of trade interest.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and not because I want to. I think I have made quite clear my disapproval and displeasure of this entire situation. Anthony Rizzo should be “my” first-baseman for as long as he wants to be. He has certainly earned that, from the time he beat cancer to the time he offered to fight the entire Reds’ bench. The times he has scaled the Wrigley tarps and enriched the lives of stricken children have certainly earned the respect of any conscionable baseball fan. But he shouldn’t be untouchable.

Rizzo is first-baseman, first of all. He is lumbering and non-versatile. Unlike KB, or Willson, or (laughs) Javy, he has no position to go to as his skills and health deteriorate. Until and unless we have confirmation that the NL is adopting fake baseball and instituting the DH, I don’t know that I give Rizzo a long-term deal on my team, even if it is a feel-good measure.

Of course my prediction is Rizzo remains on the roster, as he should. But this entire exercise in self-reflection shouldn’t preclude a realization of reality. Do the right thing?

KYLE SCHWARBER: Aside from El Mago, who is my favorite player for baseball-fandom reasons, Schwarber is my favorite for personal reasons. This dude is grit, he is patriotic, and he is TALANTED. I love him and would hate to see him go.

Schwarber enters the 2020 season in the second of three years of arbitration eligibility, due an estimated $8M. As an aside, I just want to say something is screwed up with these numbers. Javy and Kyle are both entering their second year of arbitration. Schwarber is estimated at $8M; Javy at $9.3M. Really? I love Kyle, but something is wrong with this system. I take Javy at that salary over Schwarber at his every. single. day.

Kyle Schwarber epitomizes everything we should love about baseball players: confidence, humility, and work ethic. At every point of contention in his professional life he has overcome. A few salty words nailed his job interview, his indifference to catastrophic injury is legendary, and his awareness of his own flaws and hunger to correct them are inspirational.

What can you say about this developing bat except “I want”? Unfortunately so does nearly every other team in baseball. Kyle has worked hard to dispell the DH moniker, and has done so in my eyes. But there is that other league, and he is a prime target with that additional option. His big left-handed bat would complement any contending team, from the East Coast to the West Coast, and anywhere in between. His value is debatable depending on how his skill-set is viewed, and there’s the rub. He could return a moderate package, but I have to pull rank here. I don’t think we get enough value to consider dealing him. He is more valuable to us than to them.

My guess is he stays, but as strictly a fan of Kyle Schwarber, I’d love to see him play pepper in Yankee Stadium.

So that’s a wrap on this topic, right? I know, I know. Please allow me to dislodge my fingers and pop my jaw. This is difficult…

EDNEL JAVIER BAEZ: El Mago. The magician, or the wizard, depending on the dialect and interpretation. My interpretation? “Bringer of many fans to new TV deal”, and “lone star of fading franchise”.

Javy is projected to make $9.3M in 2020. I’ll get that out of the way, along with the fact that every single team in MLB would want him at that price. With another year of arbitration in 2021, he is a hot commodity.

Blast me if you want, and I can think of a few Denizens who already have and will continue to do so now, but I see no possible way we even entertain dealing Javy. From a financial standpoint to competitiveness, from ratings to rumblings, I see no way we do this.

Javy’s reps are meeting with the Cubs’ brass at the Winter Meetings this week. Champagne, caviar, and extension talks. I don’t know if Javy wants to settle. Part of me wants to think so, but then I remember Javy’s confidence (cockiness?). I don’t doubt he brings that into contract negotiations.

My thoughts, or hopes, here is that we get an extension done. 5,6,7 years, $120-$150M. Of course this year’s salary remains the same due to AAV reasons, because we are broke and stuck.

What do you think? I’m basically tied to this reality. We are selling at the lemonade stand outside the trade show. It sucks, but this is where we’re at. We’ve watched this dynasty crumble before our eyes and offer our own sympathies, but feel a profound betrayal. At least I do. It shouldn’t be this way. We should not be riding this rollercoaster with our market advantages. We deserve a stable franchise. We deserve something better than what we have been given the past couple of years.

“No one knows what it’s like
To be the bad man.
To be the sad man.
Behind blue eyes.”


Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    I'm not sure that Theo has the nerve to trade from the Major League roster. He suggested that he might after the 2018 season, as well.

  • I actually agree with you: Bryant and Contreras will be traded in the offseason, and the others wants. It makes zero sense to trade Baez, but part of me would like to see if happen, just to crush the spirit of all the fanboys. Just kidding (sort of). And at the deadline, who knows who goes? Kimbrel? Q? Darvish? Lester? And Theo will be all like...

    So you're a tough guy
    Like it really rough guy
    Just can't get enough guy
    Chest always so puffed guy

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Never heard that before, thanks. She's pretty good.

    That's about it. The trouble were in is due to an over-abundance of confidence and stubbornness. That has changed. This season is collateral damage.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    What you are predicting is a total rebuild which I don't see happening.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I guess it depends on how you define it. Do I think they will trade a number of key players (or at least aggressively try to)? Yes. Do I think they won't make winning a priority next year? Yes. Do I think they will wait years for all of their shine new prospects to develop, wait years until they start spending again? No. Hopefully just one year, two max.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Besides, what really matters right now is that the 49ers just beat the Saints, in New Orleans, have the best record in the NFC, and George Kittle is a MAN!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubs09:

    As a fellow Northern California resident and 49ers fan, I concur.

  • Can’t wait til Bryant is traded. Some other suckas can pay 250 mil for his overrated offense and defense.

    A may double header vs the 5th placed reds Bryant is a monster a crucial September series vs the cards *crickets* bu but he had a high woba!

  • In reply to bolla:

    Give it a rest jagoff.....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Well said.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Smh......Arquello never would have put up with we’re stuck with this on a daily basis.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    You’re not stuck with anything You can leave

    You’re the washed old timer stalking people and name calling. I actually post cubs news ,what purpose do you serve?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    What John would not put up with is you calling a regular Denizen a jago!!. Don't be an a$$hole.

    I agree with Bolla. KB is probably the most overrated player in the game. He's not garbage, he's really good. But I doubt he's a a HOFer. And while the advance metrics assume everything is random, I prefer guys like Javy who somehow randomly seems to come through far more often when the chips are down.

  • In reply to bolla:


  • Will be sad to see Contreras go(if traded)

    Castellonas too , especially since he can replace golden boy kb’s production for a fraction of the contract. Wish heyward could be traded Too, what a colossal flop signing.Theo is good for those.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I like to market this site, and one of the inherent advantages is the reputation of intelligent and civil discussion in the comment section.

    Comments like this makes my effort a bit more difficult.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I was just called a ' jag off'and constantly have 2 posters who stalk my posts because they're angry I don't kiss bryant's butt like the rest of these guys he's overrated imo. Go read twitter SEVERAL hundreds to thousands of cubs fans want bryant gone .Very very weird how you conveniently missed that insult but say this to me smh

  • In reply to bolla:

    The comment by Wickdipper was uncalled for.

    You brought up comments on Twitter, and I think that is the point I'm making. There are forums for fans to hate on particular players and make outrageous statements to instigate discourse and draw attention. I wish those types would stick to those forums that more readily provide the type of confrontation and feedback that they desire. This has never been that place.

    I fancy myself the ever-optimistic Cubs fan, and all I have written about this offseason is doom and gloom. Subtraction. I don't like it, but I try to handle it in a respectful manner.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Wickdipper should not have made that personal comment to Bolla, but if just judging by the "spirit" of what he said, he speaks for me and probably most of us who are Cubs fans (and not just cheer for a small group of players on the team). You mention that hateful comments do not belong on this website, and I agree whole heartedly. But the comments that Bolla constantly makes about KB are either hateful or deliberately insulting, take your pick. He has said his piece about Bryant, 10 times over, yet still spews this garbage constantly. It's getting old. Really old.

    KB is arguably the best hitter on the team for the last 5 years, plays a complete game, never complains when he is moved around the field defensively, always respectful and a great teammate to boot. If you call yourself a Cubs fan and can't seem to wrap your mind around that, maybe you are rooting for the wrong team.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Sorry, BarleyPop, but the Cubs Den we once knew does not exist any longer. Without any moderation outside of the occasional "play nice" comment, the site was bound to devolve into the name-calling quagmire of other sites that members came to Cubs Den to avoid.
    The dearth of meaningful content and the increasingly hostile comment section make Cubs Den hardly worth visiting any more.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Dude, you literally post everyday. You're often the first commenter on every article.

  • The Cubs FO did this to any of this core group at their present ages will be just be an admission of failure on managements part. Although it doesn’t make much sense, the Nationals just found a way to keep Strasburg....a player who has always been alot more fragile than any of ours. I’d take Bryant for that dollar amount for 7/8 years over Strasburg anyday.......ANY day.
    Somebody is gonna pay too bad we aren’t in the same league anymore as the big boys. Any trade that happens will be nothing more than subtraction by limited addition.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Failure? By this FO? They have failed us? Please. They've given us the best four year run of our lifetimes and got us to the promise land. These guys should never be considered failures. They paid the price to get us there and then they tried to get us there again the following year and the price of that was trading a couple of stud prospect we'd like to have now.

  • In reply to TTP:

    No......I don’t mean it to sound as an overall failure but I would think that if you asked anyone who is a Cub fan if they thought after 2016 we would not be back in another World Series soon....they would be shocked.
    But, it just shows how hard it is to get there I guess.....look at 2008, they were the best team in the NL and were swept away 2 years in a row......
    It shouldn’t be called Wrigleyville anymore, it really should be Ricketsville, that’s what it is......TD Ameritrade was just acquired by’s not like this family and ownership doesn’t have the funds.....what would a 30 mil cap tax hurt them? It wouldn’t.....they are uber wealthy now and will be in 5 years can’t add 5 years of age to these players and see them as being as productive. This is a window that should be exploited.....but it looks as if they are going to let it slip through their hands. We should have won more...

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Mr Dipper, it is not my intention to pick on you personally. This post is intended for everyone who writes that Cubs’ ownership should just blow through the competitive balance caps «because it’s only money and they’re billionaires and they can afford it». Your post simply won the lottery as the first relevant post after I decided to write this.

    The hot take on the cap, that «they are billionaires and it is only money», is simply ignorant. Please read what BP wrote above. The penalties for going over certain salary theshholds are NOT just about money. If the only penalty was money, a lot of teams would blow through the caps. The penalties also include draft picks and international spending limits, and the penalties escalate the longer any team goes over the cap. Those two aspects make exceding cap limits very unsustainable. This is why NYY, BOS, LAD and even our Cubs are very cognisent of the caps and try to stay under or reset, even though all those teams have the wherewithal to pay the financial penalties.

    I hope that you and others will start taking a more nuanced viewpoint.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Thank you Norway. When I read all of these comments saying the Cubs have "cheap" owners, I will just copy and paste what you said. You are so right and it is so much more than just money. And, according to reports, the Cubs have tried to extend Bryant. The report last year was he turned down a $200 million extension. The team won't be able to extend all of their core. Every knowledgeable fan should have known that, even back in 2016. So trading one or more while they still have value probably makes more sense than just getting a draft pick in 2 years.
    If this core had shown over the last two years they were just a Cole, Rendon, or Strasburg away from winning another title, my guess is the ownership would have approved blowing past the cap again this year. But what the team has shown is they need more than just another big money player, their roster needs to be shaken up some. So why not get under the cap for a year to reset the penalties, change the roster, and then position themselves to go big again in free agency in 2021?
    I see the Cubs possibly going after Mookie Betts next year as a free agent. I would love to have him & Javy as the new core.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I know and agree what you say is 100% correct and also admit I don’t really know the nuances of the ramifications involved. What I’m doing is looking at it from a fan point of view, wanting to win NOW. These windows come very rarely and I don’t want to be sitting on another 10-15 year waiting period so I don’t care about IFA futures or draft picks. That could be wrong....but with this core group we should be dominating. The bolt on pieces needed can be acquired with money.....

    That nagging pain in the backround all the time.......
    The ‘85 Bears....

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wickdipper:

    If with this "core" group the Cubs should be dominating, then they'd actually be, you know, dominating. They aren't. They won 84 games last year. 84 games with Darvish pitching like a Cy Young Award winner for more than half the season. It isn't 2016. Other teams adjust and find ways to compete. I do not understand how fans can claims on the one hand this core should be dominating and then complain about the performance of the team on the other hand while whining about potential changes. Put emotion aside and think through it. They can't afford to keep this core group of players, the same core that has slowly drifted down the standings. They need to make some changes.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    To further your point on how hard it is to get back to the WS, how often have the Cleveland Indians been back since 2016? Oh, wait!

    I wonder if comments on Indian forums sound very similar to our?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    The Ricketts family brought more baseball joy to Cub fans than any other owner since Bill Wrigley. And now you are whining because they they don't spend enough of their money to keep you spoiled and happy. That would sound less like whining if they weren't already spending in the top three teams in baseball.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wickdipper:

    They really didn't do all of this to themselves. And, frankly, I don't get all the griping when I look at the math.

    Morrow - His contract was worthless due to injury. But it is over. $0.

    Heyward - It's a shitty contract. He's worth probably a bit over 1/2 of what he makes. Let's call it $13M a year. That's -$10M.

    Lester - Great signing. Don't bother trying to debate otherwise. It was a great signing. He'll cost $10M to buy out at the end of the season. He's probably worth about $15M this year. So that's -$7M. But everyone would redo this signing 10x over.

    Darvish - If he has turned the corner, and it sure as hell looks like he has turned the corner, he is worth every penny right now of what he is getting paid (especially when you consider Wheeler is getting paid more per year than Yu and especially when you consider what has happened to Jake since he left town).

    Chatwood - Bad contract. He's worth maybe $8M a year. Another -$5M.

    Kimbrel - Jury is still out on Kimbrel.

    Sum total - -$22M in bad deals for 2020. And of that -$22M a lot of it is coming off the books sooner rather than later. Bad, yes. Fatal, no way.

    So what exactly did the FO do that was so horrible? Trade for Quintana on a very team friendly contract? Trade for Chapman? You do that trade a thousand times over when you are sitting on a 108 year title drought.

    The issue is obvious. In the next three seasons five core players will all be free agents. Their salaries are going to continue to rise heading towards free agency. And if they all get to free agency the Cubs cannot possibly afford to keep all of them anyway. Bryant will command $25-30M for 6-7 years. Baez similar. Rizzo is probably 4 years and $120M. Schwarber would be more affordable. There's no way they can take on all that payroll and have a team that will be deep and compete. So take some of the emotion out of the bag. Even if the Cubs had a stellar farm system it would not change the above math. It just is what it is. And the farm system is far from a wasteland these days. It lacks immediate impact players which hurts for the present season. But it has some real depth for the first time in a while.

    If you want to complain, then base it on the fact management made trades to keep the window firmly open that depleted the farm through 2017. Yes, they traded to get Chapman. Yes, they traded to get Quintana. And they also traded to get Wade Davis, who was the team's best player in 2017. Those were all try to win now moves. But none of those moves change the fact they could not afford to keep all the talent on the roster long term. It just left the farm system devoid of impact now guys who could get this team over the top this coming season. It wouldn't change any of the above math.

    Now the decisions they make are huge. That is fair. If they are going to make trades that let the team retool, they have to deliver some really capable future players into the system.

    So they'll look to retool in 2020 and be back in a good spot in 2021 in terms of flexibility. Jason Heyward is one bad contract. It is not an albatross from which they cannot recover.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wickdipper:

    You are aware that the Nats won't be able to keep Rendon, right? That is really the situation the Cubs are facing. They can't sign everyone who is headed towards free agency. That would be the case regardless of the state of the farm system. It would be the case regardless of whether Heyward was getting $10M more a year than he's worth. No team, not even the Yankees, could afford to sign Baez, Bryant, Contreras and Rizzo to long term extensions. So moves need to be made. Any other take is either just emotion speaking or someone who can't do actual math.

  • Mr Barley Pop don’t forget 2017 when Bryant hurt his finger sliding in atl and his itty bitty lil sprained finger sapped his power so that’s 3 straight years of injury excuses

    Reminder the cubs won 95 games with kb missing 2 months and Javier Báez leading the cubs. Ironically the cubs collapsed without him in September. He’s the pulse of the cubs which is why Báez had the only rbi day In the wc game. Báez was top 5 in mlb in drs at ss, extend him! He’s Great And getting better and not fluff hype from ‘14-16 Like....

  • In reply to bolla:

    Mr. BarleyPop. I like it! Thank you, Mr. bolla.

    I realized that KB has actually been battling injuries for three years after I wrote it. That is a concern in itself. Some people are just more prone. I've been fighting and drinking and smoking and abusing my body since I was a young teen, and I'm healthy as a horse. Some aren't.

    I agree completely about Javy. I remember being absolutely deflated when the news of his thumb injury broke (pun intended), and also remember the beat writers traveling with the team reporting that was the most somber they had ever seen this Cubs clubhouse. When Javy went down, it was like a funeral for the season.

  • Great explanation of the situation. Enjoyed this very much.

  • In reply to bwitty:

    Thanks, and thanks for reading.

  • Hey, that's my watch!

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    And my drink. Stakes are high at this table!

  • Great read BP. And throwing in some of the Who’s best song makes it even better.
    I don’t think the Cubs will trade both KB and Contreras, but I do think it’s likely one will be gone. It’ll really depend on what they can get for either. I believe they could get more for Contreras and they have a decent back up option in Caratini, but they don’t get much salary relief.
    They don’t have any back up for KB so they would need to get something back in the trade. But they would get more in salary relief, so that would help their ability to fill other holes. I can’t wait to see how it plays out
    I think Theo would like to get under the $208M luxury tax this year so he can reset the penalties and go all out for Betts next offseason. He drafted him and would love to have him back. Javy & Mookie would be a fun core to root for over the next 5-10 years

  • Geez Strasburg 7 years $245 million. Pitchers get hurt so much more often than position players. I know it is nickels and dimes to $245 million salary, but insuring pitchers contracts the premiums are so much more than hitters.

    I still hope the Cubs stick with, and actually double down on drafting hitters early.

  • fb_avatar

    BarleyPop ; Re " DOOM n GLOOM " I being a DIE-HARD Cub fan since about 1940 , Maybe we need to look at it this way : Our nowaday Cubs win a lot of games , and have a bunch of exciting players , let's just enjoy our everyday exciting games , and if in the end we are in the play offs .GREAT !!!! Let's just enjoy our CUBS !!!!!

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    I try, Ronald. Trust me, I don't like feeling this way, but I have to call it like I see it.

    I've been a die-hard for 40 years. Nobody enjoyed the last several years more than I have. I am openly and notoriously a party animal, and I spent Game 7 alone in my room, with my dog and stone-cold sober, just to relish the moment. And I shed tears.

    I've often said I won't hold a physical error against a player, but I can't stand the mental ones. That's how I feel about the situation we're in. This isn't a matter of a bad FA signing or an injured superstar. Those things happen. This is a self-inflicted wound caused by people who think they know better than others and are too stubborn to admit their glaring deficiencies.

    I will continue to enjoy Cubs baseball. It's in my DNA; I have no choice. I will also try to write about the positives this situation could present. We know what happened and that can't change, but we can attempt to make it better. I believe we will.

    Thanks for the positive vibes, and GO CUBS!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to BarleyPop:

    So where is it exactly that the FO messed up so badly in your estimation. I still don't see it in the math. And here's why - regardless of the Heyward contract or the Chatwood contract - the Cubs cannot possibly afford to extend all five of the core players who are up for free agency in 2021 and 2022. It's literally impossible without leaving the team with zero depth. I do not fault management for trading Soler for Wade Davis. Why? No Wade Davis and the Cubs don't sniff 95 wins. I do not fault management for signing Morrow. Why? Because he went through a medical before getting his pay day. He got hurt. It happens. And he isn't on the books now anyway. I do not fault management for trading Cease and Elroy for Quintana. Why? Because Quintana costs next to nothing relative to other MOTR starters in the league. And I don't fault them for signing Kimbrel either. Why? Because the jury is still out on his effectiveness as a Cub. And I sure as heck don't fault them for signing Darvish. Why? Because he pitched like a Cy Young winner the last half of last season and is light years better than Arrieta has been to date in Philly. And his contract also looks positively reasonable compared to the likes of Wheeler and what MadBum will be getting. Upset about the state of the farm system? Yes, that's fair. But again, how does that stop the parade to free agency of these 5 core guys. The discussion begins and ends with the team not being able to afford all 5 of them and needing to find a way to retrench and reload. The Nats can't afford Strausburg and Rendon. How on earth do any of you who are so PO'd expect the Cubs to afford five really good players on extensions. Put aside the tax, it's what it also costs in international signing money and draft picks. Could the team be in a better position to compete in 2020 without some of the contracts referenced above? Sure. But this franchise is light years ahead of where it was when the new owners and the current FO arrived. And, again, something has to give with the service time logjam the franchise is facing.

  • fb_avatar

    Thank you for a cogent and thoughtful piece. I happen to agree with you about KB and I would also be agreeable to trading Kyle S. He has worked hard and is now a decent LF. He seems to be a friendly and positive presence in the locker room (who knows though what happens behind closed doors.) These are very talented players and traded correctly should bring in talented players. Look at the young players Wash and Atlanta has--I'll take 20 and 21 yr old players like that. I'd not like us to sign a 32 yr old pitcher when his best years behind him--Theo said when he was hired that he would sign players whose best years are ahead of him and not behind--but he did sign Lester and that was one of the best signings in our history. Maybe Akiyama. He's 31, but they don't play as many games in Japan as we do here and he sounds just like the kind of TOO and CF we need.
    I'll end with some Who lyrics we might be saying at the start of the year.
    The change, it had to come
    We knew it all along
    We were liberated from the fold, that's all
    And the world looks just the same
    And history ain't changed
    'Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war
    PS--I don't like the word "war" used when I am using it comparing the baseball season to real war. We use too many of those references, but we do know change is coming, we've known it for a long time, and I love to hear and read Who lyrics. I actually saw them live twice and it was thrilling.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    If they do make all these changes to improve on the third-place team, let’s just hope we’re not singing: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” Yeah, I guess a song about the Vietnam war can apply to baseball!

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    All these Who lyrics.

    I'm honestly conflicted feeling and writing what I do. I am an eternal optimist when it comes to the Cubs, and this reality is weighing on my positive mojo. I want to be happy, but all these blows take their toll.

    Maybe I could take a nod from "Happy Jack":

    "The kids couldn't hurt Jack,
    They tried and tried and tried.
    They dropped things on his back,
    And lied and lied and lied and lied and lied."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    And now my mind is completely blown. What are the odds of a discussion randomly bringing up the Who's "Happy Jack" in the very article that I initially analyzed the Javy situation with the simple "La la la la la-la-la-la la la"? 1,000,000:1?

    I take this as a good sign, a sign I am a complete idiot, and Keith Moon absolutely owns this tune:

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    If the Cubs extend Baez this offseason, I can guess what you’ll be singing:

    “I call that a bargain, the best I ever had!”

  • Can't understand why this KB issue has not been heard and resolved by now. It's delay has now potentially effected the off season plans of the Cubs and the teams that may be interested in KB.

    Why is this so difficult? Do your jobs!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    I completely agree. It's taken 3 Years! to get to a hearing. What has taken so long? I know when I was working that if an issue came up and I said I'd do it and 3 years later it wasn't done, well, I might not be
    there to see its resolution. Plus, everyone knows the winter meetings are when deals get done and any logical person would want it decided before now.
    Decide it! Decide it! Decide it! Decide it! I sound so juvenile, but it's about time.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The cubs are being made an example of because they will win the case but it was still fishy af.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The grievance has almost no chance of being won by Bryant, so timing of the hearing is essential. It's about the upcoming negotiations and leverage for change . The closer to them the better.

  • Nationals interested in acquiring Bryant! Yes!

    It would be ideal to get a bidding war between 2 nl East teams. Braves have the prospects I want , the cubs can retool,get under the cbt and get some Cost controlled starting pitching And still compete without the 18.5 and 26 mil the hollow stat king makes to pad his numbers vs the pirates and reds. Great opportunity for the cubs

  • In reply to bolla:

    You're not right in the head. Why do you keep going on and on and on with this Bryant hate. Can't you find some where else to post this garbage?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I can post whatever I want I'm not breaking the rules.You mad? Lol yea you are

  • In reply to bolla:

    How old are you?

  • In reply to bolla:

    Trading Bryant will decrease the Cubs chances of winning in 2020

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Yes. And what, exactly, do you think their odds are of winning the world series in 2020. I don't see this as a team capable of winning the world series right now. If they keep him and then he leaves in FA he is worth one draft pick. If they trade him right now he's likely worth a ML starter right now, a top 10 prospect in all of baseball and another top 50 prospect in all of baseball. It isn't all about 2020. And they can't afford to sign Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, Contreras and Schwarber to extensions. They simply cannot.

  • I really need a vacation to distract myself from the possibilities of the next couple of weeks and the constant arguing (here) of who it should be to go. I'm glad I'm not the one making that decision. It's the only thought that puts my anxiety at bay.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    The Cubs would like to move both Bryant and Contreras for various reasons, but only for a good return. Kris is low key and plays his cards close to his chest, but I'm not sure his future wishes include a long term contact with the Cubs. He seems to be a west coast guy. In Contreras case, Willson has not evolved at handling a pitching staff or receiving and has regressed actually. Neither are addition be subtraction, but available and valuable whether they go or stay. Baez, Schwarber and Rizzo are going nowhere.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I'm not sure it is accurate to say Kris is a "west coast guy." I think that when players sign with Boras it is for one reason: to sign with the team that gives them the most money. And Boras has a proven way of doing that. He takes players to free agency and builds a bidding war. Some players stay with their current (i.e., Strasburg). Most don't. If Cole signs with the Angels for less money than he is offered by the Yankees than I will be proved wrong. But my guess is that whichever team offers him the most money with sign Cole. And I expect the same from Kris is two years.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Bryant has stated he would love to spend his whole career with the Cubs.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    That might be true but, I find it a little difficult to gauge who Bryant is at this juncture. Is Kris the injury prone player that we saw the last two years or the annual All Star of his previous years? Does Kris know?
    Does Boras? Extensions are valued by one's floor as much as one's ceiling.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    In my view, extensions typically lean toward being team friendly. Players who are more likely to sign them have not already made a ton of money (think Rizzo, Bote). Bryant has already made life-changing money. He’ll make $18m or so the year alone. He has zero financial incentive to sign early. Even Baez has probably made enough money so he doesn’t have to sign, but he hasn’t made as much. Oh, and he has gotten hurt more than Bryant. Someone should coach him up so he quits breaking him s freaking hand!

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Agree, that too. Still, players, for the most part, don't want to be taken advantage of and orgs don't want to disrespect them either. Friendly agreements.

  • Braves gm is looking for a middle of the order hitter since Donaldson negotiations are getting too rich for them.things are aligning people!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bolla:

    that is not what the braves have said. what he said was rendon was too pricey for them. and they also have said they can find a motob via a fa outfielder. maybe they'd be in on bryant, maybe not.

  • Judging by Theo's recent comments, it really does look like KB being traded this off season is a real possibility. His bringing up the hearing really says a lot. You can tell he wants it over quickly, even though it appears to already be settled as to what the decision will be. This indicates that they tried hard to sign KB and are far apart with Boras' demands.

    So, business being business, this off season is the best time to trade Bryant, if they can find a taker who values him enough to offer up what the Cubs want in return.

    I'd be very surprised if someone (probably KB or Contreras) isn't traded within the next month.

  • BP, you have written a good deal about the FO’s hubris and how that piper is awaiting payment. I read a piece on ESPN about how the first phase of sabermetrics was about finding the best players, while the second phase, where we are now, is about making players better. It rang a bell. Theo and co aced Phase 1, but they missed the onset of Phase 2 and now have to play catch-up. It seems they are doing that, the Wi(e)ck brothers may be the first evidence, but it will probably take a bit more time.

    You have written that you do not want to go into the weeds on the FOs internal issues. Maybe you cannot, on account of confidentiality, but the weeds are where the interesting stuff is. I, for one, am very curious, and would love to see a piece on it.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    "Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.
    But mama, that's where the fun is... "

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    But the ink is black, the page is white. Maybe together we learn to read & write?

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Getting our first Arctic blast of the winter here in the Chicago area. Might be a three-dog night.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Nice :) You'll need to have some whiskey with your water... or sugar with your tea

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    No article, but I'll try something here.

    I don't have to protect my secret sources because I don't have any. No moles under my employ are deep inside the FO. It's basically just me talking to people who know people and things slip and are discussed. That, and putting two and two together.

    We've all witnessed the premature decline of this organization, and the reasons have been fairly obvious: a stubborn loyalty to players hand-picked by the FO and a near-complete lack of development from within.

    Starting about three years ago, ownership began hiring outside consultants to review the entirely of the organization, largely as a market-research effort for the upcoming launch of a TV package. This is fairly common in the corporate world and had no sinister motives. Out of those dives came some disturbing analysis about the baseball side of things. Though not the focus of the initial inquiry, other sports analysts were commissioned to review the organization from a strictly competitive standpoint, and those reviews were not flattering.

    The scouting, drafting, and development infrastructure was deemed insufficient for long-term success and in need of overhaul. These findings were discussed with the FO. Through over-confidence, loyalty, and an adherence to policy they were being surpassed by other organizations.

    We have seen a complete re-structuring of all these departments throughout the system. Without giving up my non-existent moles, the changes were not completely voluntarily implemented. There was pressure from above. And that happens all the time. It is an owner looking to protect the investment.

    It comes too late, and is the reason we are in the predicament we are in, but better late than never. I'm not questioning Theo's character or motivations, just pointing out that the path we are on is not solely his vision. I expect him to embrace this new vision and set us up for long-term success prior to his inevitable departure.

    At least I hope so. I trust he will, even if this isn't his chosen path.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    You should make this into an article.

    You bring up a variety of good points.

    Side note I like your honesty about secret sources. That is something that bothered me on other sites.

  • In reply to HJW49:

    The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Interesting and informative take there, BP.

    If that is the case, it seems the Cubs stand in a sort of no-man's land of either doing a soft retooling of the roster, or doing a substantial rebuild (to restock with younger high impact-type players).

    Any trade from the core will pretty much mean that 2020 is more of a transition period, and if they keep going with this same group, as is, it all falls off the cliff after 2021 when we lose team control over the core players.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thanks, BP!

    I wonder what this all means for Theo’s future with the Cubs. While he has only 2 years left on his contract, I wonder if family concerns aren’t making him reconsider his «10-year window» with one organization. I don’t know how old his kids are, but I am guessing they are teenagers. If Theo was planning on leaving in 2 yrs, why implement non-voluntary changes, unless his sense of duty and contractual loyalty wins the day? Maybe he wants to stay a few more yrs until the kids are off to college? Theo must certainly know that it will take a few years for these organizational changes to really start bearing fruit.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    This is the great unknown, and the biggest question I have about the current path. Where do we go?

    I started saying early in 2019 that the big news this offseason wouldn't be the roster, but the FO.

    2020 is a season of reckoning. We will attempt to compete, but not at any cost. Reset, re-evaluate, and reload. We are on a new path, caused by our past failures. I have hope for our future.

    GI CUBS!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    This is really good stuff, BP. Can you point us to an article that doesn't sit behind a pay wall which describes how these outsiders/consultants formed a negative analysis on the baseball operations? I haven't seen this formally described anywhere other then through 3rd party stuff.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    What is disturbing is that when Theo came in in 2011, he said the same thing. Cubs were way behind, were doing things wrong. So what you are saying is that starting in 2012 we tore it down and built it back up again only to have fallen behind in 4 years (2016)?

    That is a quick rise and fall for a FO.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    The scouting, drafting, and development infrastructure was deemed insufficient for long-term success and in need of overhaul.

    That is interesting, and I understand you are just passing along what you heard. I thought the whole scouting, & player development was beefed up a ton, earlier in the decade. More resources, and personal committed to scouting, and developing players than ever before in the history of the Cubs. We all know the results have been less than desirable. I like the idea of adding more resources to player development, and amatuer scouting.

    Results are tough to come by in player development. All teams have issues developing players- even the Dodgers get criticized for the results of drafting too many injured college power arms early in the draft.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Naujack:

    All of the above can be true. When Theo came they may have been light years behind the curve. They made many investments and changes, but not enough of them. I do know this. The organization is in a way, way, way better position today than when he was hired. Think about what a cluster it was back in 2011 post-season.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Excellent points BP, and thank you for sharing.

    My worry is that the current FO, even with the offseason restructure, is 1 year behind even our own analysis of the current roster. This two year window thing is mostly BS, the Cubs are not constructed to match the Dodgers depth or Nationals front-line starting pitching in the NL. Pan out to the AL (Astros, Yankees) and the outlook looks even worse.

    If you trade Bryant or Rizzo or Baez you do it this offseason. Close to peak value. Attach Contreras to a bad salary (Heyward or Chatwood) and bring back some young controllable assets in return. These are pro-active moves to setup the window past 2021. To simply hold on to everyone hoping for a remake of 2016 is myopic and not based in reality. There are deeper, younger, more talented teams out there who have taken the Cubs spot in the top 5. The farm system is bare past Davis, Marquez and Amaya. I see a bunch of 4-5 SP's and some relief arms.

    The Cubs are much closer to blowing things up than competing for a pennant. But this FO will find this out 1-year too late as they hold the emotional attachment to anyone associated with the 2016 WS team.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to LAX2ORD:

    I don't agree on your take relative to starting pitching down on the farm or regarding there being just three prospects. Nico Hoerner is still a prospect. That's 4 guys who are either in or knocking on the door of the top 100. The Cubs have several guys who could evolve into 2-3 type starters. I typically reserve TOR status for the most elite of the elite and hold the view most teams do not have such a pitcher. The problem is the good players are all very young and obviously come with some real risk. What a trade or two does is get the Cubs prospects who are more proven and closer to the majors. That much is really fair. But if they land 2-3 guys in the top 100 of all prospects via a trade or two their system immediately vaults way up the standings.

  • I know it seems like KB does not want to sign a long-term deal with the Cubs, but have we heard that directly from him? I wish the media would dig a little deeper into this and give us a clearer answer.

    It's all speculation right now, probably 100% justified that he wants to leave, but I would love to hear KB's thoughts on this whole situation.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    My guess is it all comes down to dollars & cents. If the Cubs offered a 8 year, $250 million extension, he probably signs immediately. The report last year was he turned down a $200 million extension, so I would assume he & Boris feel they can get more in free agency.

  • One huge problem with the Cubs wanting to trade KB is that all the other teams who could use him know the the Cubs "have to" trade him this off-season or bust, and therefore, they will be less inclined to give us full market value for him.

    I 've read about packages including a current impact player along with a top 10 MLB prospect and another top 100 MLB prospect.
    Given how many teams are guarding their top prospects these days, I just don't see us getting even that for him.

    It's too bad that we even have to contemplate breaking up the core just to survive the Luxury Tax threshold.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    I don't think the purpose of trading KB is to survive the tax threshold. If the Cubs don't think they can extend him at a dollar figure they feel comfortable with, then he should have more value now than at any future time. I don't believe the Cubs will trade him without getting what they feel is good value in return.

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    I feel the tax threshold is a big (but not all) part of the reason they are exploring trading KB. He is due to make close to $18M in arbitration this winter which will push the Cubs over the first tax level. Resetting the number is the main goal I believe, in order to eliminate the potential of losing future draft picks. They also probably know that KB has no intention of resigning with the Cubs unless we offer him Bryce Harper-type money.

    What they feel is good value and what we feel is good value could be slightly different.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Maybe. But windows can close quickly. If you're a team like the Braves, for example, and have a long rebuild, spent a lot of money to bolster the core, got kicked out of the first round of the playoffs, you might be willing to give up a couple of star prospects in order to add a piece like Bryant and go for it now. I mean, I know some people don't like the Bryant, but he is a stud. An OBP machine, whiz on the bases, power, proven winner, blue eyes that sparkle like diamonds.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    What do you think would be a good return from the Braves (or any other team) for KB?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    That I'm not smart enough to know, at least not exactly. But what I imagine you'd want is at least one minor league player who played in at least AA last year and projects to be very, very good and under team control for seven years. So think the Gleybur Torres trade. You'd want more than just that. Maybe a pitcher that you think could fit somewhere in the rotation or be a really solid bullpen guy. And at least one more player that could be a future trade chip when the team is buying not selling.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Ernie Broglio

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Anderson,wright and waters.That would set the cubs up for a great future.2 tor pitching prospects and switch hitting cf who was the youngest mvp ever of the southern league.

  • In reply to bolla:

    You’re dreaming again. No way the Braves give up that much for 2 years/$40+ Million for Bryant. I could see them giving up Waters and one of their lower level pitching prospects maybe. But they are still in on Donaldson and are looking at Ozuna if they don’t get Donaldson

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    This front office will get a good return, they have a pretty good track record when it comes to trading veterans.

    At least for the top free agents teams seem to be more aggressive this offseason.
    The Cubs might have to focus on getting higher end bats back in a trades, if teams are in love with their top pitching prospects.

    I think at a minimum to even get the Cubs to think about trading Bryant/ Atlanta would have to offer something like
    D. Water cf, B Wilson rhp, B. Shewmake ss/2b/3b, & F. Tarnok rhp.
    Or maybe
    A. Riley 3b/of, D. Water cf, B. Wilson rhp, & a low level flyer.

    If money is that big of a concern for Atlanta, maybe the Cubs could even take back M. Melancon $14 million salary for 2020 to maximize the return for Bryant.

    This front office might not want to trade these guys, but I have no doubt the returns will look nice.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubpack:

    I don't think he is dreaming. If Atlanta doesn't get Ozuna or Donaldson (and that is more likely the outcome than not), then Bryant becomes very much in frame for them. And it is not at all unreasonable to demand Anderson and Waters in a trade if you are the Cubs while also taking back some salary via taking on Inciarte or Melancon or whomever. Atlanta is in win now mode. You don't stockpile prospects for the sake of stockpiling. Eventually you use your capital and move the chips in. Bryant may or may not be the right trade for them. But some of those top guys will get moved.

  • In reply to Dave Sampsell:

    The Brewers appear to be re-tooling in the fly. What do you think they would get from ATL for 2 years of Yellich (at 60% the cost of KB)? Or the Astros trading Correa for a pitching prospect to dump his salary to help get below $208mil. There are a lot is pieces and players for ATL to consider. Or one of those 2 guys going to the Cards?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Good point. But the Cubs only need two very interested teams to create a bidding war for him. This is probably why they are being fairly transparent regarding trading him. They decided internally that the "cat will be out of the bag" anyway, so their best option is a bidding war for his services. After all, everybody knows that Gerrit Cole is looking for a job. It probably won't hurt him too badly ;-)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Eh. I don't worry much about that. Teams want to win. More than one team in fact. He'll get interest and there will be good offers. The White Sox just traded their #8 prospect for a box of rocks straight up. KB is going to yield the Cubs some real and potential talent.

  • In reply to Dave Sampsell:

    Good point. The Cubs have Bryant and the Braves do not. Atlanta or anyone else will need to ante up.

  • BTW. I appreciated this article, Barly. Well written, at least to my way of thinking the analysis was on the mark, topical, and even a bit of personalization (i.e., Javy love). It's the type of article the Cubs Den lacks a bit these days. So...

  • Great article Barley and agree someone has to go because the current lineup makeup points to another year of futility. KB Is the likely candidate for cap reason$ and asset return. Lots of ways to go short term and long term for his bat. Good luck Theo.
    Loved all The Who reference. More music trivia “Behind Blue Eyes” was written for Keith Moon as Roger, Pete and John all have blue eyes.

  • Gerritt Cole: Yowza.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    You said it Cubs09,... WOW!

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Risky! Better them than us.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed on both parts of your point 44.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    More than a couple charity years in that contract. 9 years is just nuts. That said good for him.

  • Amazing, this must be why Cole wore the Boras Corp hat after the World Series!!!

  • I think we see Bryant or Wilson traded this offseason - but not both. I tend to agree with many here that Wilson (more years of control, more premium position) is more likely to both be traded, and to bring back a better return.

    As regards Bryant - I think we need a guy who can get on base at a 0.380 clip near the front of a Cubs lineup. Add to that he can cover all 4 corners defensively, is solid on the base-paths, and has great power,... But yes - he's getting expensive, and is about to get a whole lot more expensive - and unless he's willing to sign a decent extension, he's a short-termer anyway.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    This is where I am, too, regarding the FO's offseason plans. And whoever is traded, if someone is traded, it will most likely be for a starting pitcher. It was pitching that made the Cubs miss the post season last year, possibly mismanagement of pitching played some role, but pitching made the Cubs a mediocre team. The offense was good enough to win the division.

  • Some actual Cubs news coming out of the Winter Meetings: the FO had said they are no longer pursuing extension talks with Rizzo this offseason. Baez remains the primary focus.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    From Jesse Rogers (ESPN):

    "The Cubs have informed us that they will not be offering Anthony an extension at this time," Rizzo's agent, Marc Pollack, said from the winter meetings. "Anthony has let his desire to be a Cub for life known to the organization. Although we do not know what the future holds, a deal to make that happen will not be addressed now."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Wise. I'd like to see how his back holds up. Those with more "life experience" know it's an issue that doesn't improve with age.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Exactly, Javy is the key. Cub moves will become much more clear if El Mago is extended.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Seems that way. I can't find direct quotes or confirmation, but Rogers also says an industry source has told him the Cubs are not engaged in extension talks with Schwarber, either.

    This veers slightly OT and may just be wishful thinking on my part, but when I hear news like this, I start imagining further implications. With the Cubs currently not engaged in extension talks with Rizzo and Schwarber, I wonder if expectations regarding the National League implementing the DH in the post-2021 CBA has any influence in these decisions. No one knows for sure, but I'm 100% confident the FO has a better grasp of the possibility than I do, and I would think that if there was a sense that the DH was coming they would be more comfortable offering long-term contracts to these types of players.

    I'm surely reading too much into this at the moment, but this news completely confirms, at least in my purist mind, that the NL will remain DH-less. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I will buy it.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    It could be that the FO is starting everything with KB. Either try and sign him or trade him and then go down the line with the others. Of course, until his grievance is settled, Cubs hands are tied a bit.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Hope the NL never adopts the DH

  • Interesting tweet here from Ken Rosenthal:

    #Dodgers pessimistic on chances of landing free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, sources tell The Athletic. #Rangers remain heavily involved. #Angels also interested, too. #Nationals a long shot; Rendon balked at deferrals in their initial seven-year, $210M-$215M offer.

    This obviously has major implications in the KB trade market. I'm to the point that I believe we are actively shopping him, and the only way he is a Cub in 2020 is the lack of a satisfactory offer. But no deal will happen until Rendon and Donaldson are off the board.

    I would like to see Rendon sign with Texas. Of all the teams realistically interested in KB, Texas just doesn't match up well with our needs. Let them spend money and the losers send us a trade package.

    My guess is KB is Atlanta's 3B next season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I love KB. He is my favorite Cub. But I'd actually love to see him traded. My favorite years as a Cubs fan were 2013-2016. Which was also when I found Cubs Den. It was so much fun to have talent to be excited about in the minor leagues. Reading every year.

    While a tear down will be painful for me it is fun to imagine what these guys could do acquiring REAL talent for their trade pieces (not hoping for the best from a Carlos Zambrano-for-Chris Volstad deal). Some of the guys on the trading block have real value. Not aging veterans who are famous, but no longer particularly effective. It is better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Or a Contreras/Hayward trade for an A ball player to clear money to offer an extension to Javy. I’d love for Javy to be aiming for a deal similar to the 6-year deal Bergman signed. Bergman is a better all around player, by a little I find it hard to believe, but I’ve been told that Javy is not talking team friendly deal. That’s hard for me to believe.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Why should he take a team friendly deal?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    "It is better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late." Straight out of Atlanta's playbook.

    The problem with a tear-down is the new TV deal. I despise people who make a point and then say "end of discussion" , because that nearly always implies they can't defend their position. But in this case, with the implementation of a new TV deal, I have to say a complete tear-down is unfathomable. End of discussion.

    Follow the money.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Would LAD do a KB for Verdugo and Lux?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Verdugo has baggage, teams seem to be avoiding him. Lux is great, but cannot see the Dodgers trading him.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    What baggage does Verdugo have? Not aware of anything.

    One concern about him is his back injury, always a problem for hitters.

  • Braves reporter said 2 pitching prospects and a hitter for Bryant is what he heard gets it done

    It’s gotta be Anderson,Gibson and pache or waters. He also said braves match up with the cubs better than anybody. That would be a tremendous package for the cubs and add abbot,marquez and eventually gallardo and the cubs go from mediocre pitching prospects to some serious future tor studs!!!

  • In reply to bolla:

    I meant wright not Gibson

  • In reply to bolla:

    The problem in my opinion about trading KB for minor leaguers, is that it will likely be a year or two until they are impactful guys.

    If that is the case, might as well go ahead and strip it all down as Cubs won’t be able to win anything with Kyle, Javier, Wilson and Rizzo.

    I would prefer we trade for guys who can make an impact in 2020 and help us win this year with the balance of the core.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Anderson & wright are in triple a and are both top 35 prospects.Wright already had a cup of coffee in mlb last year.I didn't realize they both were top 35 prospects I thought they were top 75 so realistically the cubs may have to ask for fried and one of anderson or wright +waters/pache.

    they both would be ready by mid season.Waters is in triple a too and most likely would need maybe half a season down there.All of these guys are mlb ready for the most part.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I am not a Waters fan. When your comp is Randy Winn and your ranking sky rockets due to a full season with a .435 BABIP, that is not a top prospect. I would want Pache who although doesn’t have elite numbers, his Defense is off the charts. And he has loud tools which means his ceiling is well above Waters. There is a lot of of caution or red flags on Waters.

    Wright profiles more as a 3 with upside while Anderson profiles as a high 2 and TOR 1 stuff.

    If you could snag Pache, Anderson, and Wright that would be an acceptable haul for KB.

    I also think LAD is in play. I believe Seager could be had as they would clear a spot for Lux. Verdugo and Gray would also be my targets. I am not huge on May. I believe Gray to have higher upside as a 1/2 type.

    If you move KB, you must get a huge haul.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I looked and saw that they were highly regarded, but as you mention, they would be ready by mid season. What do we do until then? And how effective will they be when they get here?

    So in essence, next season is a loss and the window on the other guys closes even further.

    So my point still stands, if you are going for minor leaguers, trade everyone and build for 2022.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Next season won't be a loss and they are not going into a rebuild mode.
    Wait a couple months and see what the team actually does to improve the team and tune out the worthless rumors.

  • And there's this reply from the FO, which I was anticipating:

    "Yeah, you know, I think we've always kept those conversations in-house," Hoyer said on NBC's SportsTalk Live. "We've had conversations with lots of our guys over a five-year period, and it's always best to keep it quiet. I think in this case, Rizzo's agent decided to talk about it and we did have some conceptual talks about what an extension would look like, and I think that, candidly, we were pretty far apart in terms of length, and so he decided to come out and say that".

    The Cubs said after the conclusion of this season that they would engage all worthy players with dwindling control contract extensions, and that the feelings of those negotiations would affect trade discussions . Jed said yesterday those talks were ongoing, but wouldn't identity with which players, publicly.. Rizzo's agent spoke publicly. He doesn't do that without Rizzo's approval. Rizzo is not happy.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    All these guys are robotic as far as public speaking goes. Every word is carefully crafted for maximum impact. The FO has publicly said that they are engaging all players they view to have a future in the organization in contract extensions.

    Yesterday, Hoyer reiterated that these discussions were ongoing, but would not mention names. Today, Rizzo authorized his agent to publicly state these negotiations didn't involve him.

    Lovely. My lump of coal just became larger, and I'll try to have an edition of "How the Grinch Stole My Cubs Christmas" out on Friday.

    GO CUBS!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Would you move Rizzo if 1) you get a very good package for him and 2) you planned to move Schwarber to 1B?

    I would.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    You move any player if it improves the team.
    Schwarber would not be an option to move to 1B

  • Anthony Rendon is about to sign with the angels.they are working on finalizing a contract tonight

    GREAT news!! that means donaldson will go to the highest bidder between the rangers,nationals,braves and dodgers.There will be a market for bryant Yessss

  • In reply to bolla:

    You will be disappointed when Bryant is playing 3b for the Cubs in 2020.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I agree. I don’t think he’s going anywhere

  • If it came down to an offer of Verdugo & May from the Dodgers or Waters & Anderson from Braves, which would the Cubs take? Or would they pass on both offers and keep KB? It’s going to be an interesting next few weeks I think

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Sometimes the best deal is the one you don't make. This will be true with Bryant.

  • fb_avatar

    I don’t see KB being traded while the decision on his FA availability is still unknown.
    Maybe the Cubs are doing some misdirection with all the talk of KB and it will be some other player traded. What if someone needing pitching liked what Yu did last season and wanted him and gave us a couple of highly rated pitching prospects? It’s possible and the Cubs want to trim the payroll too.

  • If Javy is not open to a long-term team friendly deal, do you move him getting a huge haul and then make a Rendon-type deal and to try and keep KB?

    And as I type that I did have a little throw up in my mouth. However, it has become apparent some players are going to be moved for a myriad of reasons. I personally get pissed when “finances” are a reason we cannot sign our players when watching the Yankees land Cole. Acquire Stanton. Grab Tanaka. Sign Chapman and DJL all while punting on Ellsbury‘s $21M salary. The Yankees aren’t discussing having to trade Judge or Sanchez or Torres. This bothers me but it is the reality of Cubs baseball today. I wonder if we had closed the deal 1-2 more times if we would be entertaining this—probably so watching the Nats lose Harper and Rendon the last 2 years.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Baez is the axle. If Javy isn't interested in signing long term the Cubs should stand pat and let Ross work his manic, or try to. Twenty nine teams have Jed/Theo' s phone number if they would like one of our guys, they should be prepared to ante up big time. This group won it all once and capable of doing it again with an attitude adjustment. Us against them.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I like your optimism, however I am not in the camp that an attitude adjustment will mean a whole lot to winning it again. The roster is flawed and we have had 3 years to get back to 2015 and 2016 levels of sustained dominance only to fail. Descalso has a great attitude, but stinks at playing baseball. We need better baseball players, IMO. We have regressed mightily on the mound, at 2B, and our OF from the 2016 version. I think the core needs to be reshuffled and new core pieces need to be added.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Baez is not signing a long term team friendly deal. He would sign a fair market value deal.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to rbrucato:

    and now these dirty dog Yankee's are the front runners to trade for Josh Hader ! Good, get him out of the division !

    I think the Yanks have all this money because for a few years they were rebuilding ( for them) aka not being HUGE players in free agency. When the Yankees have 168 million dollar payroll in 2018 and only 118 million opening day for the 25 man roster ( they had 87 million on IR, but I am sure insurance paid for a lot of that) = Loads of money to spend. The evil empire is back.

    The cubs should have a lot of money as well if Ricketts didn't try to turning Wrigleyville into Ricketville basically overnight vs taking a nice long view. Either way that's his right as a business man. Add in the penalties and loss of draft picks, Cubs just have to stay under and reset the penalties.

    BP, great article as usual ( yea, your becoming a thing now ! ) and lots of wonderful comments by all in this thread.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The Yankees should have a much higher payroll than the Cubs in 2020. Yankees also have more good young players on their roster to build around than the Cubs.

    2019 season Sanchez, Torres, Voit, Judge, Urshela, German,
    none of them made over $700K in 2019.

    I think you could make an argument the Cubs should of spent more on free agents after 2016, and 2017 to help reinforce the young players.

  • I agree that it is not the attitude that will lead to winning.
    I disagree that the core is not good enough to win. There is a lot of talent with Baez, Bryant, Rizzo and Contreras.
    Add a starting pitcher and you have a solid rotation.

  • Lol, "Descalso has a great attitude, but stinks at playing baseball". I'm not optimistic, but I am not going to put my tail between my legs with this franchisee either. I don't want other orgs or the MLB to extort us for talent. If you want our studs ante to eff up. Why hasn't that Boras/Bryant grievance been decided as well? Cubs followed the rules, cut and dried. End of story!

    Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of blaming Joe/coaches and front office. That's bullschiff! Time for individual players to take some of the weight for the downward spiral. A little reclamation on their part would be uplifting.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Let's see what the new coaching staff can unlock in these guys. Maybe they take that next step that they've been searching for the last couple of years. I'm pretty sure its just talk but Theo said yesterday that they might not do much this offseason. Technically, they're just missing a leadoff hitter. I'd like Shogo at the very least. I realize max value of a KB trade is this offseason but I don't like forfeiting his prime years while we have him just for prospects that may never pan out. Wouldn't they get a compensation pick if he walks in 2 years anyway?

  • With the high end free agent contracts given out, so far this offseason, makes it more likely Cubs will end up trading multiple core players this offseason.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    That's ok as long as they deal from strength.

  • mong Rosenthal’s comments: “Bryant ranked 15th in the NL with a .903 OPS in 2019, but he has dropped from 14th to 22nd to 31st in defensive runs saved at third base the past three seasons, which is one reason the Braves and other clubs are not necessarily enamored with him at the position.”

    Interesting section from ken Rosenthal Today. Bryant gets so overrated by cub fans it’s hilarious. This is public negotiating btw

  • In reply to bolla:

    I do not understand why you cannot let it go, bolla. You are just flat out wrong. It's a lame and ignorant approach you take multiple times daily in here. Did he stiff you when you were trying to get his rookie card signed? It's amazing you are a Cub fan and HATE on a great Cub player so much.

    Fact -- Kris Bryant is GREAT at baseball. You can try to cut him down into small samples to make your point. But guess what? You can do that with every player. Fact is when you look at his entire body of work in total, he is a GREAT baseball player. Period. That is indisputable.

    You should probably read up on DRS. Since you won't and cite Rosenthal who is wrong, here is the link from Fangrpahs where you can see Bryant came in 16th in MLB. Not 31st.,d

    And, please note how many fewer plays he was involved in when moving all over the field. The numbers are there for your viewing pleasure. Hard to score well in total DRS when not playing the position full time. From Fangraphs: "In general, DRS isn’t perfect because it doesn’t factor in shifts, positioning, and can’t perfectly measure everything it needs to, but it’s still among the best options out there. Defensive statistics should not be taken as 100% accurate, just like anything. There are plenty of reasons why they might not be telling you a complete story."

    It's silly you continue to beat this drum against Bryant. There is nothing overrated about Kris Bryant playing baseball.

  • In reply to bolla:

    If he is as overrated as you state he won't have much value in a trade.
    They should keep him because his value is low.

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