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Monday, October 23, 2017

Looking to next year

For me at least, it’s time to start thinking about how the Cubs can get back on track in 2018.

So what is needed this off-season? I won’t say much about particular options, and instead lay out in order what I think are top issues:

1. A couple of starting pitchers. The Cubs have a solid core of Hendricks, Quintana and Lester to amend. Jake Arrieta will be on the free-agent market, where he may or may not be a good buy. John Lackey’s contract is up as well, and he will likely retire. Together that’s 2.9 WAR in 338 IP walking out the door. We can expect Epstein/Hoyer to keep on doing their thing in the off-season (“always be signing hard-luck starting pitchers”) but they need a couple of legit rotation locks.
2. Some major infrastructural work on the bullpen. I think people tend to exaggerate it, but certainly the bullpen has not been a strength the last couple of years, and two of the better and more reliable relievers (Davis and Duensing) are eligible for free agency. That leaves Strop, Rondon, Edwards and Montgomery under control. Wilson and Grimm are both arb-eligible, and I think there is a very good chance both will be cut loose. So yeah, the bullpen is going to need some substantial shoring up. Davis is probably the top reliever in the FA pool, and it will be costly and risky to retain him on a multiyear basis, so I think there is a very strong chance that we will lose our closer. I think the Cubs will wisely use a more holistic approach here, resisting big names and multi-year deals.
3. Outfield improvement. Cubs outfielders ranked 14th in MLB in WAR, at 7.2. That’s not a good number, and it includes Ian Happ on top of that list with 1.8, including his infield work. An outfield consisting of the 2017 versions of Schwarber/Happ/Jay/Almora/Heyward is possibly adequate and probably not very good, but Schwarber and Happ could (should?) improve. It would be nice to have a legit stud in the outfield, but FA options look expensive and/or risky.
4. Second catcher. This doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but the last few years the Cubs have had some very competent second catchers who had significant impact. The emergence of Willson Contreras as a legit star has been great, but I would not be surprised to see a bit of a sophomore slump despite his prodigious talent blooming before our eyes. Both Alex Ávila and Rene Rivera are eligible for free agency. I like Ávila a lot as a backup but I’m guessing he’ll be picked up for full-time duty somewhere, in a multiyear deal. Rene Rivera hit great for the Cubs in very limited duty, but he’s really not much of a hitter, and it would be nice to have a lefty hitter behind Contreras (no, I do not expect Schwarber to fill this role beyond emergency duty). Victor Caratini is a possibility, but I don’t get the impression that the Cubs are impressed.

The infield is probably set, unless the Cubs make a surprising trade of Baez, Russell or Happ for a star player. I could see the right big trade happening involving one of these players, but I don’t expect it.

So clearly, the roster has holes. I think the Cubs are in a fairly challenging situation here, trying to achieve dominant status in the NL Central for the fourth straight year with some significant needs to be met. I think additional decline in 2018 is a definite possibility if they don’t make some really smart moves. But these are not extraordinary challenges: if they’re the perennial winners we all want them to be, management has to be up to this task.

Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2017 at 02:04 PM | 185 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5569829)
The Cubs really only have "surplus" position player talent if Zobrist rebounds for the next two years and Almora is ready to be a FT CF. I'm highly doubtful about the first (esp for both 2018 and 19) and not confident enough in the second to trade Happ. Not to mention a trade requires us to rely on Heyward and Schwarber hitting LHP.

Any money we might save trading for Teheran or Archer or whoever versus signing somebody is going to get eaten up by the need to sign 1-2 solid bench players.


I think/feel/hope that Almora is ready to be the full time CF, and I pray/hope that Zobrist is better suited/more likely to succeed as a utility/bench guy.

The best way to spend the money the Cubs have available this offseason might be a number of Jon Jay type contracts - 1 year, well above the minimum (or even 2 year deals, but front loaded in year 1). I'm not sure what position to really target unless (until) they trade someone for pitching.

---

This is dumb, but what's bugging me today are these dumb way too early power rankings for next year, like this one. It feels wrong to not be the flavor of the month right now, after the last 2 seasons. As we talked about in one of the other threads, the Cubs core is just as good, if not better, than a bunch of those other teams ranked higher (AZ, BOS, CLE, NYY) and probably even the Astros. The Cubs aren't going to outspend NYY/LAD and maybe not BOS, but they will the other ones. I obviously feel good about this FO, and expect the team to restock nicely and once again, the Cubs should be way up in that group of title contender favorites next year.
   102. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 02, 2017 at 01:35 PM (#5569943)
Prior to this year - my big concern with Almora is that his bat might not be enough to warrant just handing him CF.... but he's now got 440 big league PAs and he's hit just fine. This past year's mark of 298/338/445 -- good for a 101 OPS+ -- is pretty much right at the upper level of my "hopeful" expectations, so that's great.

What I find disappointing is that the metrics don't care for his defense all that much... not that he's bad -- just that he's merely average (perhaps a skosh below).

My eyeballs say that doesn't seem quite right -- but my eyeballs don't scream it's waaay off, either.

I suppose that an average defensive CF that hits ~280/330/450 is still a good and fine thing, especially making the MLB minimum and especially with, potentially, some room to improve.

In any case, I'm ready to take the plunge and say he's the CF and I don't particularly think we need a caddy... Happ's a fine just in case... and if both blow up, we're screwed anyway.

However, I certainly do hope the defense comes around. In fact, I think I'd almost be happy to trade an offensive falloff - not a plummet, but down to something like, say, 250/300/400 - if he can get back/prove himself to be a plus glove in CF.
   103. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2017 at 01:49 PM (#5569955)
Yeah, I'm not sure what to think of the defensive stats for him either. I think he was better in the 2nd half, but I can't back that up. He *loos* the part, and when I watch I see a guy who appears to have good instincts, makes good reads/quick reactions; but I also know he's kinda slow for a CF. I don't think it's just a positioning thing, cause didn't Fowler always look great for the Cubs after never grading out as a plus there and then dropping back down in STL this year?
   104. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 02, 2017 at 03:51 PM (#5570085)
MLB trade rumors FA predictions, for fun. I don't know how accurate they usually end up being, but the years/amounts are more interesting to consider than the specific teams. Of note:

1. Yu Darvish – Cubs. Six years, $160MM
4. Jake Arrieta – Brewers. Four years, $100MM.
5. Masahiro Tanaka – Phillies. Five years, $100MM.
8. Wade Davis – Astros. Four years, $60MM.
9. Lance Lynn – Rangers. Four years, $56MM.
10. Greg Holland – Cardinals. Four years, $50MM.
11. Alex Cobb – Twins. Four years, $48MM.
16. Addison Reed – Cubs. Four years, $36MM.
18. Mike Minor – Dodgers. Four years, $28MM.
19. Brandon Morrow – Rockies. Three years, $24MM.
24. Juan Nicasio – Twins. Three years, $21MM.
25. Bryan Shaw – Red Sox. Three years, $21MM.
30. Jake McGee – Cubs. Three years, $18MM.
32. Alex Avila – Yankees. Two years, $16MM.
36. Anthony Swarzak – Brewers. Two years, $14MM.
39. Jon Jay – Rangers. Two years, $14MM.

All of the ones I copied between Darvish and Avila feel low to me. I would be shocked to see the Cubs hand out those specific contracts; I'd be pretty upset if they signed Darvish to that deal with Jake only getting 4 years. Both the Lynn and Cobb deals seem really low to me.

   105. Quaker Posted: November 02, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5570195)
I think Tanaka would be great at that price.
   106. Quaker Posted: November 02, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5570197)
What are the actual rules & limits for Otani? Cubs can pay like $300K and other teams can offer a few mil?
   107. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 02, 2017 at 10:23 PM (#5570312)
If I ran the Cubs, I'd offer the numbers in #104 to Arrieta and Davis and be perfectly happy if they both accepted them. And I'd much prefer that contract for Arrieta than the Darvish one that they're projecting the Cubs to give. Maybe I'm dinging Darvish too much for the World Series, but I don't see how he's worth two $30 million seasons more than Arrieta.
   108. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 02, 2017 at 10:28 PM (#5570314)
Oh, and giving that kind of money to Addison Reed and Jake McGee feels way too much like the Jim Hendry method of building a bullpen. I'd rather stick with what we have and if we're going to pay retail, spend it on a lockdown closer (e.g., Davis). I'm fine with sticking with Edwards and Strop, see what we have in Maples, see if Wilson can bounce back to what he was with the Tigers.
   109. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: November 02, 2017 at 10:30 PM (#5570319)
Yeah, if that’s all it takes to sign Arrieta, I don’t think there’s any way the Brewers sign him away from the Cubs. And I doubt Darvish gets that much more than Jake, because as Kiko notes, he doesn’t warrant it.

As for that Holland prediction: Hahahahahaha. Let it be so. Please.
   110. Meatwad in mourning Posted: November 03, 2017 at 01:48 AM (#5570357)
Hell at those prices lynn and cobb would be better than blowing that much on darvish.
   111. Nero Wolfe, Indeed Posted: November 03, 2017 at 02:41 AM (#5570361)
I've always thought too much was made of bullpen building. Invite every warm body you can find to spring training and keep the best seven or so. Offer the next four minor league contracts.
   112. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 10:27 AM (#5570452)
What are the actual rules & limits for Otani? Cubs can pay like $300K and other teams can offer a few mil?

Anyone who hasn't exceeded the int'l signing limits in the last X number of years (I think 3, but not positive) can sign him with a bonus up to $10mil I believe. The Cubs are one of the teams (I think this also includes the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox) that have exceeded that, so they're hard capped at $300k.

I believe he can't be signed to a major league deal, so he'd go straight into the normal system like any other minor league player. In theory, he could sign an extension at some point (I believe teams have signed deals with guys pretty early on), but sounds like MLB is going to try and keep things on the up and up; IOW, it'd be quite shady if he picked a team and then shortly thereafter signed a $100mil deal.
   113. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 10:28 AM (#5570454)
I've always thought too much was made of bullpen building. Invite every warm body you can find to spring training and keep the best seven or so. Offer the next four minor league contracts.

Agreed. There's always exceptions, and the only one who might be this year is Davis and even that's debatable. You have to trust your scouting and coaching and your lucky stars.
   114. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 10:30 AM (#5570457)
I think I'd be ok with the Cubs going even higher than that Arrieta projection on an annual basis if you can get him to sign for only 4 years. I just don't think there's any way he settles for less than 5 and probably is asking for 6/7 (Boras appears to be aiming for a Scherzer comp deal).
   115. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 03, 2017 at 10:51 AM (#5570468)
And I doubt Darvish gets that much more than Jake, because as Kiko notes, he doesn’t warrant it.

Maybe handling racist taunts with grace and maturity is a highly valued trait in the free agent marketplace.
   116. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 03, 2017 at 10:58 AM (#5570478)
FWIW on McGee --

The Cubs were linked to him previously - before TB dealt him to Colorado, they were supposedly trying to work something out for him. Not sure if that interest still persists - he had a nice bounceback this year and got the walks back down, while the K rate recovered somewhat - but the Thed FO has supposedly liked him in the past.

   117. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2017 at 11:05 AM (#5570489)
Anyone who hasn't exceeded the int'l signing limits in the last X number of years (I think 3, but not positive) can sign him with a bonus up to $10mil I believe. The Cubs are one of the teams (I think this also includes the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox) that have exceeded that, so they're hard capped at $300k.

Per Baseball America, the teams under the penalty are the Braves, Astros, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Athletics, Reds, and Royals. Those teams are limited to $300K.

The Yankees and Red Sox, are not under the penalty.
   118. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 11:41 AM (#5570533)
Thanks, snapper. Didn't the Red Sox get add'l penalties after their fiasco/scandal a couple years back or are all of those over and done with by now?
   119. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2017 at 11:44 AM (#5570538)
Thanks, snapper. Didn't the Red Sox get add'l penalties after their fiasco/scandal a couple years back or are all of those over and done with by now?

Don't know about that. Just going off this list.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/2017-18-international-bonus-pools
   120. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 12:06 PM (#5570566)
Thanks. Found this:

Major League Baseball on Friday handed down unprecedented penalties to the Red Sox, removing prospects from their organization and banning the team from signing any international players during the upcoming 2016-17 international signing period, which opens Saturday.
...
Instead of penalizing the Red Sox for the 2017-18 signing period, which would have had a more damaging effect on the Red Sox since that will be the next year they can sign players for more than $300,000, MLB’s decision to ban the Red Sox for 2016-17 signings leaves several amateur prospects in Venezuela out to dry. Several 16-year-old Venezuelan players were expecting to sign with the Red Sox on Saturday, but those players are now scrambling to find deals with other clubs.
   121. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 12:10 PM (#5570572)
Also, I appear to have been wrong on the $10mil, as now there's a hard cap.

So even the non-penalized teams are capped much lower than $10mil, the amounts are in snapper's link (lower market teams get more money). So Yanks/Red Sox can only offer $4.75mil. That's still a nice bit more than $300k, but probably not enough to move the needle on Otani signing where he wants.
   122. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2017 at 01:13 PM (#5570616)
Also, I appear to have been wrong on the $10mil, as now there's a hard cap.

So even the non-penalized teams are capped much lower than $10mil, the amounts are in snapper's link (lower market teams get more money). So Yanks/Red Sox can only offer $4.75mil. That's still a nice bit more than $300k, but probably not enough to move the needle on Otani signing where he wants.


Sort of. Teams can trade for additional hard cap space. I think the Yankees (for example) can get up to around $8.5M max. Team with more cap space, can get up to $10M, or close.

Given how many teams are prohibited from spending more than $300K, it should be relatively easy to flip C+ prospects for extra space.
   123. Meatwad in mourning Posted: November 03, 2017 at 02:04 PM (#5570666)
except both teams already spent a lot of the intl money. yanks can only offer less than 4 mil( i think 3.75 to be exact) and have maxed acquiring money from other teams via trade.
   124. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 04:02 PM (#5570744)
Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 45m45 minutes ago

Cubs claim LHP Randy Rosario off waivers from Twins. Rosario was pitching in Dominican Winter League as recently as week ago. 40-man at 33.


   125. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2017 at 04:09 PM (#5570750)
except both teams already spent a lot of the intl money. yanks can only offer less than 4 mil( i think 3.75 to be exact) and have maxed acquiring money from other teams via trade.

Where are you getting those stats? Does any team have the full $10M to spend?
   126. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 03, 2017 at 04:11 PM (#5570752)
Rosario's minor league numbers don't look particularly great, although not bad, and maybe there's some room for improvement given that he's been a little young for his league.
   127. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 03, 2017 at 05:13 PM (#5570784)
Here's something I don't really want to read about this winter/next spring training:

During these last two postseason runs combined, Heyward went 7-for-65 (.108 average) with zero homers, one RBI and 16 strikeouts, becoming more of a part-time player/defensive replacement than a lineup fixture.

“I definitely see an improvement,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I am absolutely seeing more hand action in his swing. There’s less push in his swing. I think he’s done a lot of really good work and it’s going to keep getting better. The guy’s so committed to getting better.

“His willingness to adjust — to understand or believe that he needed to do something differently — it starts with that. Some guys may be so hardheaded that they’re unwilling to adapt or adjust.

“He was looking for some new answers, and he found some new things. When you make adjustments like that, you’re always wanting to see that instant gratification, and there was some, I thought.

“Give it some time, and this could really continue to get better, because he’s so committed. He’s such a good athlete. He’s so strong, and now he’s starting to feel his hands in a way that he had not for a while. That’s what I’m seeing.”


Unless Maddon is implying there's an injury that's been around for almost 2 seasons, I just can't....

"I would like for him to stay on the same path,” Maddon said. “I think he’s growing into the adjustment that he’s made. I think next year’s going to be a pretty good indicator of where he’s at. From where he was last year – to the adjustments he made in the offseason into this season – and now he’ll have another offseason to really fine-tune that.

“When you see him next year, you’ll find out exactly where he’s at developmentally as a hitter.”


He's 28! Has 8 years of experience!

   128. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 03, 2017 at 05:18 PM (#5570787)
Some guys may be so hardheaded that they’re unwilling to adapt or adjust.

...he said, while indicating that he would probably continue running Heyward out there every damn day.
   129. The Honorable Ardo Posted: November 03, 2017 at 11:53 PM (#5570882)
My personal preferences, with some time to reflect:

1) Trade Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton and JT Riddle.
2) Commit to a Bryant/Baez/Happ/Rizzo infield for the long run, with Riddle (a good-field, poor-hit shortstop) and La Stella as 2018 backups.
3) Offer Jake up to the same 6/155 we gave Jon Lester three years ago. I want to keep him.
4) Take a flier on Doug Fister in the Brett Anderson role.
5) Pry Dellin Betances (who, IMO, is fixable) away from the Yankees.

Lineup:
Almora
Bryant
Rizzo
Stanton
Contreras
Happ
Baez
Heyward
Zobrist filling in (50-90 starts depending on how well he hits)

Pitching staff:
Lester
Arrieta
Quintana
Hendricks
Fister/Butler

Montgomery, Edwards, Strop, Betances, low-cost filler...
   130. Meatwad in mourning Posted: November 04, 2017 at 01:36 AM (#5570891)
One of lynn and cobb for the back end if they sign jake at a decent price otherwise #### it sign both.
   131. Voodoo Posted: November 04, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5571036)
1) Trade Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton and JT Riddle.


I'm surprised by the overall willingness to part with Addison Russell. IMO, Addy is closer to the untouchable core group of Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras than to the valuable-but-potentially-expendable group of Schwarber/Baez/Happ. I mean, sure if somebody as good as Stanton is on the table, it's worth a conversation, though if we're gonna break the bank on a corner OFer, I'd much rather wait for the Harper sweepstakes next winter, given that there are some indications the Cubs could have the inside edge there, than pick up the tab for Stanton's contract AND dispense with Russell/Schwarber for the privilege. The more I think about it the more I hate that idea.

Yes, Russell took a slight step backwards with the bat this year in an injury plagued campaign, but his offensive approach is such that he still possesses a very high ceiling as a hitter, he's the youngest regular on the team, and he's one of the very best SS defenders in all of baseball. Contrast that with Baez, who is also a great fielder, but I kinda suspect what-we-see-is-what-we'll-get from him as a hitter going forward.

I still think Russell has legit superstar potential and I can't imagine a trade scenario in which I'd be comfortable parting with him. I'd be super pissed if the Cubs included him in a deal for, say, Archer. No way.

If I were running the Cubs FO, my plans for the winter would include:

Kicking the tires on Otani, of course, though for some reason this feels like a real long shot right now (still can't believe he's even coming over this year)

Making an extremely hard push to lock up Contreras and Russell long term. Seems at least notionally plausible, in a way that extending Bryant does not.

Make a play for a TOR starter, either by looking to re-sign Arrieta to the very reasonable deal that MLBTR guessed that he would sign with Milwaukee (I'm not much interested in Darvish; I'd rather have Jake back) OR by seeing if an Archer-type is available for some combination of Baez/Schwarber/Happ. Really, the only way I'm happy seeing Baez dealt is if it is some sort of mega-deal that also includes Heyward getting a ride out of town (with the Cubs eating some money, presumably).

Sign Lance Lynn, who I like a lot more than the more frequently discussed Cobb/Tehran. But sure, if we strike out on the TOR starter, scoop up Cobb to go along with him.

Pick up a handful of reclamation projects to try to cobble together a bullpen, but don't blow the bank.

Get ducks in a row to go HARD after Bryce Harper next winter.
   132. The Honorable Ardo Posted: November 05, 2017 at 03:08 PM (#5571266)
IMO, Addy is closer to the untouchable core group of Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras than to the valuable-but-potentially-expendable group of Schwarber/Baez/Happ.
In hindsight, I agree. Giving up great up-the-middle defense when the Cubs don't have to is silly. (Though I'm skeptical about Russell's upside at the plate.)

It does mean that either Happ or Schwarber has to be moved. With Schwarber, there's no sense in trading him; you'd be selling low. If he can become an elite hitter, you want him to do it as a Cub.

That leaves Happ. I like him and want to keep him, but there's no place for him to play. Would Happ + Heyward get Stanton?

Side note: NO on Lance Lynn. He missed all of 2016, then had a smoke-and-mirrors year in 2017 with an FIP of 4.88. He's not the pitcher he was before getting injured. Pass.
   133. Walt Davis Posted: November 06, 2017 at 12:21 AM (#5571359)
Put me down also as very much not liking the idea of trading Russell. More in a bit.

I think Almora will be a solid enough (nearly) full-time CF too. But while he has hit fine, there's still a platoon tilt and a fairly big platoon split and H/R split and it's just 440 PA -- there's still plenty of risk there, making a Happ trade riskier (or Schwarber with Happ taking over LF). Honestly, I think there's very little chance the Cubs will trade Schwarber, I think they still think there's a great hitter in there.

Pitching -- hell, I don't know. I'm squeamish about every pitcher available. Jake's 2017 FIP and 5.5 IP/start aren't very promising as he turns 32. Not that I expect him to fall apart but something like 600 innings (incl some injury time) of 110 ERA+ over the next 4 years is what the lizard part of my brain expects. In a strictly baseball sense, I think Darvish will turn out better -- but agreed, probably not better enough to justify the 2/$60 difference suggested i the list. Lynn, Cobb, Teheran, etc. -- could be 3rd starter quality, could be 5th starter. I'd rather spend money than talent on that type of pitcher. And building bullpens? Play the big lottos, hope we win $500 M, then pay 4 top closers each year over the next decade ... win lotto again. (I know, I know, taxes, the upfront payment is much less than $500 M, this plan simply isn't viable.

Back to Russell ... He's still only turning 24. There are lots of SS (and other IFs) that didn't start hitting until 24-25. It's hard to define comps for Russell because he's got such a contemporary profile -- high Ks, lousy BA, solid power (for his position). But from a WAR perspective in the expansion era, only 19 SS have made it to 8+ WAR through age 23 (Russell 10). Alas, of those 19, 9 are currently active (not that Hanley is a SS) ... and yes he's clearly behind Correa, Seager and Lindor. Adjusting some for era, he looks a lot like Travis Fryman but with the defense to stick at SS. From a WAR perspective, he's a match to Alan Trammell (also Menke, Speier but what can you do?).

For some of the more sensible WAR comps, from ages 24 to 29 (Cubs control through 27, maybe could extend through 29):

Trammell 34
Fryman 20
Renteria 19
Andrus 16 with a year to go
Simmons 19 with 2 years to go
Templeton 15
Menke 14
Speier 12

If worst-case is 6 years of an average SS, expected is 6 of a 3-WAR SS and still some shot at excellence .... there's not much to worry about here. Seriously of the 14 of the 19 who have already played past 24, Speier at 12 WAR is the worst. Holding onto Russell is low-risk, high-reward.

OK, actual worst-case is probably Juan Uribe who had just 8 WAR over these ages ... but such a weird career that he had 14 WAR in his 30s while continuing to be useless about half of the time.




   134. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: November 06, 2017 at 09:10 AM (#5571388)
1) Trade Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton and JT Riddle.

I don't like this idea for numerous reasons:
1) I like Russell and his trade value is probably at a low right now, given how his early season death spiral hurt his numbers.
2) Why would an NL team trade for Kyle Schwarber? I mean, there's a market there - but if he's getting traded, it's to an AL squad.
3) Stanton's contract is so big it's gonna be hard to carry that salary and keep much of the existing core.
4) Stanton has problems staying healthy.
   135. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 06, 2017 at 09:29 AM (#5571396)
At this point, I feel like Thed is highly unlikely to pursue another big ticket OF contract... In Crawford and Heyward, he's signed two of the biggest OF contract duds in history... I don't think they're going to be quick to doubledown on a 3rd, be it taking on Stanton or chasing Harper (that said, if there's any truth to Harper actually wanting to come to Chicago - then let's talk discount).

I also see that my google alerts for Cubs waiver pickups for me to fawn over is on the fritz...

I like the Rosario pickup - he once had some juice as a prospect, back when he was a raw lottery ticket and while it hasn't really worked out, neither has he been Gerardo Concepcion. Should be noted, too - he lost a year to TJ surgery some time back. Anyway, his velocity supposedly picked up a bit this year after moving to the bullpen and his stuff is supposedly more than just LOOGY powder. I *think* he's actually still got one option year left if my chronology is right - but he's very much worth the roster spot even if he's gotta stick with the club this spring.
   136. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 06, 2017 at 10:59 AM (#5571484)
Not to pile on the Stanton idea, but how much of his contract do you anticipate the Marlins retaining? I know the Marlins are trying to dump the deal and get players back, but that probably isn't super realistic. So to give up 2 rostered players, the Marlins would have to still be paying a significant portion of the his contract, and I don't think they will want to do that. IOW, I'm not even sure the Cubs are a good match.

I also like the idea of dreaming on Harper next year.
   137. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 06, 2017 at 11:04 AM (#5571492)
Here's The Athletic's ($) writeup of Baez, similar to the Schwarber one I linked before:

One of Báez’s biggest areas of improvement in 2016 came with his two-strike approach. After posting strikeout rates of 41.5 percent and 30 percent in his short stints in both 2014 and 2015, that number dropped to 24 percent in 2016. With two strikes, Báez had a split OPS+ of 128 in 2016, compared to a dreadful 42 in 2014 and 70 in 2015. While still better than those first two seasons, Báez regressed in that area in 2017 as well, posting a 93 sOPS+ this past season. A big part of that was he still chased a similar amount of pitches out of the zone with two strikes in 2016 and 2017 (18.4 percent and 19 percent, respectively). But in 2017, he swung and missed on pitches out of the zone with two strikes nearly 50 percent more often than in 2016.

---

Turns out, Schwarber wasn't the only Cubs outlier here. In fact, Báez is doing the opposite of Schwarber by swinging and missing a ton, but striking out less often than expected. There are various reasons this could be happening, including randomness and luck, but part of it is likely that his two-strike approach is good enough that he’s not as easy to put away as he once was. That smaller, in-control swing allows him to stay competitive in at-bats he previously would have easily been retired in, even though he’s chasing more and swinging and missing far too often.

It’s aspects of his game like this that make Báez a frustrating study. It’s a reason many suggest the Cubs should move him while his value is still high. Baez turns 25 in December and his defensive tools make him unquestionably valuable on the trade market. The untapped potential on offense makes Báez, a hard worker and someone who takes well to coaching, all the more attractive. The fact that he's easily marketable doesn't hurt either.
   138. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 06, 2017 at 11:21 AM (#5571512)
You know, technically -- both the cost savings and commitment length for Heyward over Stanton are pretty substantial.... just saying.
   139. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 06, 2017 at 11:39 AM (#5571536)
Super early ZIPS projections are out, well, the team ones Dan does before the offseason excluding FAs. Cubs still project as the class of the NL Central (87-75, 68.7% playoff odds), but the Brewers aren't far behind at 84-78, with the Pirates 2 back of them and the Cards 2 further back.

Dodgers project at 96! wins already though.
   140. Quaker Posted: November 06, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5571554)
Law ranks Davis as the #32 free agent, behind Jay @ #31 and Arrieta @ #4. I'm pretty okay w/letting Wade walk.
   141. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 06, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5571560)
I certainly think - expect/hope/they damn well better - offer Wade the QO and I wouldn't be totally upset if he just took it.

Much as I hate to spend on the bullpen, the results from all of the heirs apparent in-house are not encouraging. Like it or not, someone is going to be the "closer" -- and if it's not Wade, then who? Hell - one might as well make the case that they've got to tender Rondon and perhaps give him his old job back.
   142. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 06, 2017 at 02:11 PM (#5571675)

Much as I hate to spend on the bullpen, the results from all of the heirs apparent in-house are not encouraging. Like it or not, someone is going to be the "closer" -- and if it's not Wade, then who? Hell - one might as well make the case that they've got to tender Rondon and perhaps give him his old job back.


The Cubs will definitely bring back Edwards, Strop, Wilson, and Montgomery. I would guess they give up on Grimm and Rondon will only be back if he's willing to accept a pay cut. Maples will probably be stashed in Iowa to start the year.

I would be kind of concerned if they just added some warm bodies to that group in the hope something sticks. It will be extremely difficult to make any midseason additions given the state of the organization outside the 25 man roster.
   143. Walt Davis Posted: November 06, 2017 at 04:48 PM (#5571827)
Not sure how useful those ZiPS projections are. I understand the idea and think it's kinda neat but it's not just projecting the Cubs without Arrieta, etc. it's simulating them against a league where Arrieta doesn't play for anybody. I think that's how the Dodgers get to 96 wins (behind the wall) and the Yanks to 92 (in front of the wall). In essence, any player signed by the Cubs adds to the 87 wins (we hope) but every player signed by another team takes away from the 87.

Also I assume that the sorry state of the Cubs' minors, especially on the pitching side, kills them in these sims -- all those Arrieta and Lackey starts (and Davis and maybe Rondon innings) require a lot of innings out of Butler, Tseng, and much deeper to get through the season. Which is true of most teams in this sim of course but is probably uglier for the Cubs than most teams. Obviously that lack of depth should hurt the Cubs when we get to the real projections so it's not like it should be ignored here but ideally it should be down-weighted in some way. In other words, if the Cubs project to 87 wins with their AAA/AA staff covering 475-575 innings (Arrieta, Lackey, Davis, Uehara, Anderson ... and maybe Grimm and Rondon), that sounds pretty good. The Dodgers just have to cover 50 innings of Darvish and some relief slots; on offense, just Utley, Ethier and the like. No wonder they project to 96 wins.

Assuming that's the way Dan does it. I don't know that I've got a better way but maybe you could try subbing in average players for all the FAs on each team. Or maybe figure out the WAR provided by all FAs then spread that back equally to all teams (then you assess a team's improvement on whether they've signed above- or below-average FAs).

That might not make enough difference to matter though ... you'd really need to target the improvements. That is, for the Cubs, you'd have to recognize that (hopefully) you'd be replacing the Butler et al innings (likely well below-replacement overall) with average innings or at least above-replacement while they wouldn't bother adding position players. Some teams (the Dodgers apparently) may already be average or at least above-replacement at so many spots that adding an average FA doesn't really move the needle for them. That would be a very tough simulation to set up.
   144. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 06, 2017 at 05:15 PM (#5571856)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 11m11 minutes ago

Cubs make a few moves. OF Leonys Martin outrighted, RHP Cory Mazzoni claimed off waivers & contract of RHP Matt Carasiti selected from AAA.

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 10m10 minutes ago

Cubs 40-man now sits at 34

Patrick Mooney‏ @MooneyNBCS 7m7 minutes ago

#Cubs also (obviously) made qualifying offers to Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis to guarantee draft-pick compensation if they sign elsewhere.


TB officially gave Cobb the QO, and the Cards did the same with Lynn. It seems pretty obvious the contract estimates in 104 will come in pretty low, even with Tanaka not opting out.
   145. Voodoo Posted: November 06, 2017 at 06:38 PM (#5571924)
In a recent Fangraphs chat, Jeff Sullivan suggested that Arrieta would get only 4/90 and that the team which signed up to that deal would greatly regret it.

Is there something hidden in peripherals or in specific pitch analytics that I'm missing that would suggest Jake is about to fall off a cliff? Of course any pitcher is going to be a risk for injury/sudden decrease in performance, but based on JA's relative lack of mileage on his arm plus just his general makeup, he seems to be as good a bet going forward as any 31 year old pitcher.

Unless I'm missing something crucial, if he is only going to get four years I want the Cubs to resign him, almost regardless of the annual cost.
   146. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2017 at 03:47 PM (#5572434)
MLBTR's recap for the Cubs offseason. Mostly stuff we all know or have talked about, but nice to have it all in one location, including their arb projections:

Justin Wilson (5.035) – $4.3MM
Hector Rondon (5.000) – $6.2MM
Justin Grimm (4.162) – $2.4MM
Kyle Hendricks (3.081) – $4.9MM
Tommy La Stella (3.072) – $1.0MM
Kris Bryant (2.171) – $8.9MM
Addison Russell (2.167) – $2.3MM
Non-tender candidates: Rondon, Grimm


The Cubs gave Bryant a bump to $1.05mil last year and I'm sure he'll see a nice raise but to $8.9mil?
   147. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 07, 2017 at 04:03 PM (#5572442)
Wasn't Ryan Howard just a Super 2 when he got the $10 million award back in 2008? Looking it up he won his case and the Phillies had offered $7 million. Bryant's number doesn't seem out of line with that.
   148. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2017 at 04:21 PM (#5572457)
Phil Rogers‏Verified account @philgrogers

@Giants have interest in @Cubs' Jason Heyward, w/Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon to offer. Very complicated deal but not impossible.

1:35 PM - 7 Nov 2017


Was it Bruce Levine that also mentioned that? Looking around, I think Kaplan also hinted at that. Heyward has a full no trade, and I think Melancon does too (he also might be hurt enough to never pitch again, right?). Those deals are both shorter than Heyward's, which would line up better with the Cubs' young players.

So, like I said before, is this again just a bunch of Cubs' writers that like Jeff or is there really something to this?
   149. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2017 at 07:51 PM (#5572608)
sources: john lackey intends to pitch in 2018. not retiring.


From Heyman.
   150. Voodoo Posted: November 07, 2017 at 09:50 PM (#5572691)
It sounds like total BS to me, but if the Giants are calling about Heyward, I'm sure Thed is gonna listen.

This will be an unpopular sentiment around here, but I wouldn't be upset if Lackey breaks camp as the 5th/6th starter next year. I doubt it happens, because he's probably going to be looking for a situation where he's assured a rotation spot, but we could do worse.
   151. Walt Davis Posted: November 07, 2017 at 11:07 PM (#5572723)
The Cubs gave Bryant a bump to $1.05mil last year and I'm sure he'll see a nice raise but to $8.9mil?

We have two pretty much perfect comps in Machado and Arenado.

Machado is a full arb player. His first arb award in 2016 was $5 M, followed by $11.5 M. Arenado is a super-2, 17 days short of the magic 172, and he got $5 in 2016 followed by $11.175 as part of a 2/$29.5 deal.

So $9 does look high. Arguments in Bryant's favor are (1) he got extra screwed on service time so they'll probably reward him as a full 3; (2) he's got the MVP and the RoY; (3) he's been better (per WAR); (4) it's 2 years later.

Machado pre-2016: 18 WAR in about 2000 PA
Arenado pre-2016: 13.5 WAR in about 1650 PA
Bryant pre-2018: 20 WAR in 2000 PA

That's pretty freakin' impressive.

I wonder if the QO gives us a method for estimating arb progression (or whether it might be used by arbitrators in that way). Between 2016 and 2018, the QO has gone up about $2 M. If you used a standard 40/60/80% of market value as the arb progression guesstimate the 40% of $2 M for a good but not great arb-eligible player would suggest a $750-1 M increase over a similar player in 2016. Given M, A and B are above that level, that would suggest at least $1 M for Bryant if he was their equal. Add $1 M total for the awards, add $1 M for being 2-4 wins better over equal playing time (and less service time relative to Machado) and that could be another $1 M. So I think $9 M is in play.

Other comps? Harper is just too hard to figure out as he signed a ML contract after the draft, then an extension that replaced part of that. Trout got a 6-year buyout, getting $6 in the first year. Stanton got $6.5 for year 1 in 2014 then he signed the big extension covering year 1. That one makes $9 for Bryant look rather likely. Freeman got over $5 back in 2014 which also bodes well for Bryant.

Still, have to agree that $9 seems a bit high, at least for the expected outcome. Also Boras clients do sometimes sign arb-year-only buyouts when the team wants cost certainty (as a protection against injury) so the Cubs might get Bryant to go for something like $7/13/20/25 or a bit lower. (Anybody know how those work for lux tax purposes -- based on AAV or separated by year for arb players?)
   152. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 08, 2017 at 10:26 AM (#5572828)
Thanks for the context Pops/Walt. Arb award comps is probably the part of baseball I follow least closely.

---

Reading this piece on Lester made me think of something I'm not sure any of us mentioned in any of the Bosio firing discussions - remember when every single Cubs starter began 2017 throwing several MPH slower than last year? Maybe there's some underlying reason/cause for that and the Cubs have put that on Bosio.
   153. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 08, 2017 at 10:28 AM (#5572830)
Heyward won the GG, Rizzo/Zobrist didn't.
   154. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 08, 2017 at 10:42 AM (#5572842)
Was it Bruce Levine that also mentioned that? Looking around, I think Kaplan also hinted at that. Heyward has a full no trade, and I think Melancon does too (he also might be hurt enough to never pitch again, right?). Those deals are both shorter than Heyward's, which would line up better with the Cubs' young players.

Remaining contracts are...

Heyward: 6/127.5 [full no-trade protection for 2016-18, may block deals to 12 clubs in 2019-20, may block all deals after 2020 season as 10-and-5 player]
Samardzija: 3/54 [limited no-trade protection (may select eight clubs to which he will accept a trade)]
Melancon: 3/38 [full NTC]

Aside from dealing with the no-trade clauses I think this makes some sense - provided the Cubs are willing to kick in cash. It is hard for me to pinpoint just how much the Giants value Samardzija's contributions. He's not great but it's also not clear to me what SF would have on hand to replace him and just how hard they are going to try and compete this year.
   155. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 08, 2017 at 12:47 PM (#5572972)
Alex Pavlovic‏ @PavlovicNBCS 20m20 minutes ago

Giants people seem as baffled by Heyward/Cubs rumor as the rest of us. Zero chance of that deal. Welcome to the offseason.
   156. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 08, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5572992)
David O'Brien‏ @DOBrienAJC 18m18 minutes ago

#Braves release Rule 5 pick Rivero, former Cubs Triple-A strikeout machine who spent entire season on DL
   157. Meatwad in mourning Posted: November 08, 2017 at 06:54 PM (#5573251)
bonus pools for otani
   158. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 09, 2017 at 01:22 PM (#5573571)
#Cubs GM Jed Hoyer confirms to @Spiegel_Parkins that Jim Hickey will be the team’s pitching coach, while Brandon Hyde will be named bench coach.


Now they need a 1b coach.
   159. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: November 09, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5573578)
#Cubs GM Jed Hoyer confirms to @Spiegel_Parkins that Jim Hickey will be the team’s pitching coach, while Brandon Hyde will be named bench coach.


Call Hoyer, Hickey, and Hyde for your free Mesothelioma book.
   160. Quaker Posted: November 12, 2017 at 11:32 PM (#5574811)
What would Danny Salazar cost?
   161. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 13, 2017 at 10:33 AM (#5574933)
Considering his injury history, it can't be that much. A lot like Schwarber, for the Indians to move him now would be moving him at his lowest value point. So, a Schwarber/Salazar challenge deal? (I think I've been brainwashed by Thed on Schwarber because I really don't want to do that one; even if the Indians lose Santana, they still have EE - which one of Schwarber and EE gets 1b and which gets DH?)
   162. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 13, 2017 at 10:37 AM (#5574942)
Here's what <strike>Boras</strike> Heyman thinks the FAs will get.


Here's a terrible trade suggestion for the Cubs, though from the perspective of another team:
Marlins get Christian Arroyo, Seth Corry from the Giants, and Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist from the Cubs; the Giants get Stanton; and the Cubs get Johnny Cueto.
   163. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 13, 2017 at 11:15 AM (#5574983)
BA's Top 10 prospects for the Cubs.
   164. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: November 13, 2017 at 12:17 PM (#5575053)
Marlins get Christian Arroyo, Seth Corry from the Giants, and Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist from the Cubs; the Giants get Stanton; and the Cubs get Johnny Cueto.


Trading Happ and Zo to get a slight discount on Cueto for 4 years? Hard pass.
   165. Quaker Posted: November 13, 2017 at 12:25 PM (#5575061)
I would 100% give Schwarber for Salazar.
   166. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 13, 2017 at 12:30 PM (#5575068)
That's a rather depressing top 10...

Ademan is a legitimate prospect, but he's very young and he's no Gleyber Torres. Disappointing to see Lange in particular rank so low in a very thin system; I still like him more than Little. Hatch was decent enough in his first full season in the system - nothing eye-popping, but better than 9 K/9 at least. Alzolay and De la Cruz are both former lottery tickets that haven't yet crapped out - they were fine last year, too - but I think both need to join the 40 man this coming year or be left unprotected (and frankly, absent taking a big step forward - not seeing either as particularly likely to be lost). They'll both be 23 this coming year - perfectly fine that they're now advancing to AA, of course - but neither screams rotation in waiting. ALbertos IS a lottery ticket. I still think Caratini ought to make for a good enough backup C who hits a little.

Between the trades and graduations - this is inevitable... but the big problem is that there's really no way this system alone could create a package for anything other than a moderately decent bullpen arm. Anything more than that -- or absent taking on an albatross contract, I guess -- you have to dip into the big league roster for someone likely to be missed on some level.

The margin of error for the big club is functionally zero at this point - injury or performance disaster cannot be solved with reasonable trade ideas at this point, at least, not without potentially creating new holes at the big league level.
   167. Walt Davis Posted: November 13, 2017 at 07:54 PM (#5575522)
Looking at the list in the Heyman article, there are some potentially interesting names in there:

1. Almost any of the relievers in an appropriate mix.

2. Some nice names as potential Jay replacements. Given Happ and Zo, it's not clear we need/want a Jay replacement but, in addition to Jay, Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson (who we know) and Cameron Maybin are good fits and the latter two provide a smidgen of RHB pop to keep Schwarber/Heyward off the field against most LHP. Dyson of course doesn't provide an offensive boost but does reach base at a decent rate for a back-up and runs and defends like the wind. Anybody know if his arm will play in RF at all?

3. But I think we might be best off replacing Jay with an IF. Neil Walker is a possibility and priced here at 2/$22 but that's still probably more than the Cubs want to spend (and he's probably not ready to be a bench player). There aren't any attractive cheap options -- if they were willing to live with Yunel Escobar's or Eduardo Nunez's defense, you'd just use LaStella more. Maybe Jose Reyes deserves a tire kick.

4. If these prices are at all accurate, I'm most intrigued by the 5th starter candidates. Jaime Garcia at 2/$16-3/$24, Tillman at 1/$7-8, Dickey at 1/$7, Miley at 1/$7, Feldman at 1/$5, Miguel Gonzalez at 1/$4, maybe even Jason Vargas (never thought I'd say that) ... or in the total reclamation pile if he wants a one year reset contract, maybe Pineda.
   168. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 13, 2017 at 08:04 PM (#5575527)
runs and defends like the wind

Is that a compliment? How good defensively is wind?
   169. Voodoo Posted: November 13, 2017 at 08:41 PM (#5575576)
Quite good. When it's blowing in.
   170. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 13, 2017 at 09:23 PM (#5575614)
Sure, peak wind is great defensively, but the consistency just isn't there at all.
   171. Voodoo Posted: November 13, 2017 at 09:54 PM (#5575631)
The regression to the mean can be brutal...
   172. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 14, 2017 at 09:15 AM (#5575781)
Davey is stealing Hank White!

Bullpen coach is the lone vacancy remaining, though Henry Blanco is expected to be named to the position, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. A former catcher, the 46-year-old Blanco played 16 major league seasons and spent the past three seasons with Martinez on the Cubs’ coaching staff as a quality control coach.
   173. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 14, 2017 at 10:39 AM (#5575846)
Probably good for Blanco that he went where he's a known commodity rather than somewhere he would have to explain what exactly he did for the last three years as a "quality control coach."
   174. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 14, 2017 at 10:47 AM (#5575859)
Probably good for Blanco that he went where he's a known commodity rather than somewhere he would have to explain what exactly he did for the last three years as a "quality control coach."


Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the god damn players so the nerds don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?
   175. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 14, 2017 at 11:18 AM (#5575884)
1. Almost any of the relievers in an appropriate mix.

Concur.

2. Some nice names as potential Jay replacements. Given Happ and Zo, it's not clear we need/want a Jay replacement but, in addition to Jay, Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson (who we know) and Cameron Maybin are good fits and the latter two provide a smidgen of RHB pop to keep Schwarber/Heyward off the field against most LHP. Dyson of course doesn't provide an offensive boost but does reach base at a decent rate for a back-up and runs and defends like the wind. Anybody know if his arm will play in RF at all?


Maybin would be far and away my pick - I think Almora needs to be the everyday CF, so a LHB caddy no longer really makes sense (especially with Heyward/Schwarbs, as you say). Got some pop, runs a bit, good glove. He's perfect. If it takes two years, give him two years. In case of injury, he's a perfectly dandy option to play every day for a month if need be.

3. But I think we might be best off replacing Jay with an IF. Neil Walker is a possibility and priced here at 2/$22 but that's still probably more than the Cubs want to spend (and he's probably not ready to be a bench player). There aren't any attractive cheap options -- if they were willing to live with Yunel Escobar's or Eduardo Nunez's defense, you'd just use LaStella more. Maybe Jose Reyes deserves a tire kick.


Blech. First - the only kick I'd give Reyes is just a kick. The others have zero interest for me. The only way the Cubs really need to look at an IF on a guaranteed contract would be if a trade ends up moving one of the Baez/Happ/Russell trio out of town. If that happens, sure. If not? This is nothing but an NRI need -- though, not one to be overlooked. The Cubs do need a competent SS/MI to stash at Iowa in case of injury... Last year, virtually the entire system above A ball had a bunch of Elliot Sotos, Ozzie Martinezes, and guys with no business on a big league roster ever.. hence the Freeman experience. Chesny Young is the only moderately interesting kid anywhere near Wrigley, even if purely in bench form -- but he can't really play SS.

One guy I noted in the minor league FA thread is Cristhian Adames - he can play a non-awful SS, meets my switch-hitter fetish, and while his major league lines are putrid - he's young enough and there's at least some hope in his MiLB lines that he might have a utility career. Another guy - depending on whether the Giants tender him or not - would be Orlando Calixte. He'd have been a MiLB FA had the Giants not added him to the 40 man when they had some injuries over the summer. Decent enough chance they don't keep him.


4. If these prices are at all accurate, I'm most intrigued by the 5th starter candidates. Jaime Garcia at 2/$16-3/$24, Tillman at 1/$7-8, Dickey at 1/$7, Miley at 1/$7, Feldman at 1/$5, Miguel Gonzalez at 1/$4, maybe even Jason Vargas (never thought I'd say that) ... or in the total reclamation pile if he wants a one year reset contract, maybe Pineda.


I'm increasingly of a mind to just resign Jake and go with some manner of in-house derby for the 5th spot -- Monty, Tseng, Mills, Butler, whatever. If Pineda comes cheap, sure.

I think the one guy that might interest me would be Tyler Chatwood -- injuries and coming up so young have him flying under the radar a bit, but he's been relatively healthy the last two years and I think he's actually the guy Eddie Butler strives to become - good fastball, but at least a secondary arsenal to provide some balance. In the range HeyBoras notes -- 3/24 to 2/25, I think that would be a good spend.
   176. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 14, 2017 at 11:58 AM (#5575916)
The more I read and see, the more I'm starting to really dislike any big deals this offseason. Like I've said before, I'm ok overpaying on a 1/2 or even 3 (preferably one with an option deal) to just kinda fill out the roster. I still am hesitant to make a trade for a SP (save an Archer or comparable equivalent); if we have to though, I'm dead set on keeping Russell and Baez, so I could live to part with one of Happ or Schwarber and I still think I'd rather it be Happ.

I've become a Cobb believer (or maybe pre-Stockholm syndrome since I just assume the Cubs are signing him); I'll take McGee and one of Reed/Morrow/Shaw at the Heyman "expert" prices. That leaves one more SP spot; I'm ok with Chatwood or Garcia - and I could live with a Happ or Schwarber for Salazar deal then sign Maybin or Jackson. Using Heyman's numbers, that's about ~$30mil/yr for the 3 pitchers, which maybe even can be structured in a front loaded way to keep plenty of room open for a big signing next year. Then either the Chatwood or Jackson/Maybin deal doesn't add too much extra.

I also kinda would like to see the Cubs take a flier on fixing Betances. He seems to have completely fallen out of favor in NY, so I wonder how much he'd cost to acquire.

I agree with zonk on the IF. If the Cubs keep Happ plus Baez/Russell, with Zobrist and LaStella the IF is still pretty safe at the big league level. Walker is just a another version of Zobrist and I can't imagine he's interested in being a fulltime backup yet.
   177. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: November 14, 2017 at 01:21 PM (#5575982)
I would 100% give Schwarber for Salazar.

Not me. I may be a lot more bullish on Schwarber than many still are, but Salazar's injury history and inconsistency seem like major red flags.

Speaking of Schwarber, I went to Fangraphs to see just how bad his defence was this year and was shocked to find that he ranked 4th highest among LF with a 3.4 UZR (using a 750 inning cutoff), and moves up to #3 in UZR/150 with a 7.5. (He was solidly negative in 2015 on Fangraphs' numbers, although by no means the worst, and of course barely played in 2016). What should we make of this, if anything?
   178. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 14, 2017 at 01:34 PM (#5575994)
I, for one, have always said Schwarber's defense wasn't as bad as it looks at it's worst (like that misplay in the NLDS). I'm shocked to see it showing as a positive in any evaluation but to my eyes he's been getting better out there (he even looked better in the 2nd half on defense, IMO).

---

Supposedly the Cubs and Dodgers are asking about Britton. Not sure I'd like to see what'd it would cost to acquire him, and that would be year 3 of giving up something for a 1 year closer. Pass.

From an Athletic piece on the closer thing:

Also similar to Davis, the Cubs almost acquired Britton from Baltimore at the trade deadline. The two teams were close to a deal — the Cubs would have moved someone from their MLB roster to consummate the trade – but hesitation by the Orioles led the Cubs to move on and be aggressive to go get Wilson from Detroit. The Wilson move may not have worked as planned, but as the Houston Astros learned, trusting Baltimore to finish off a deal with the clock ticking is a strategy that inevitably leaves one empty handed.


We knew at the time the Cubs wanted Britton, but didn't want to be left holding the bag when the O's backed off last minute (which is exactly what happened to the Astros), but were the Cubs really ready to trade Happ for him? I'm assuming it was Happ. I surely would hate to see them move Happ for him now.
   179. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 14, 2017 at 01:41 PM (#5576003)
were the Cubs really ready to trade Happ for him? I'm assuming it was Happ.

Maybe everyone forgot to tell Joe that they did not actually trade Happ. That would explain quite a bit.
   180. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: November 14, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5576010)
We knew at the time the Cubs wanted Britton, but didn't want to be left holding the bag when the O's backed off last minute (which is exactly what happened to the Astros), but were the Cubs really ready to trade Happ for him? I'm assuming it was Happ. I surely would hate to see them move Happ for him now.


I might inquire what it would take to make it both Britton and Dylan Bundy... likely more than the Cubs could afford, but still worth asking to find out.
   181. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 14, 2017 at 01:49 PM (#5576027)

Supposedly the Cubs and Dodgers are asking about Britton. Not sure I'd like to see what'd it would cost to acquire him, and that would be year 3 of giving up something for a 1 year closer. Pass.


Britton's 2016 peripherals were pretty rough. I'm guessing the Cubs asked after him to see if he could be had for a song as he had a 1.527 WHIP and a 29:18 KK:BB ratio last season but his good ERA and healthy number of saves will probably get him a nice bump in arbitration. As he made $11 million last year there is/was a possibility the Orioles are happy to let someone else pay that and it wouldn't cost much talent. OTOH, once the Dodgers get involved the game is probably up for the Cubs.
   182. Voodoo Posted: November 14, 2017 at 09:56 PM (#5576387)


I also kinda would like to see the Cubs take a flier on fixing Betances. He seems to have completely fallen out of favor in NY, so I wonder how much he'd cost to acquire. allen out of favor in NY, so I wonder how much he'd cost to acquire.


Happ. He would cost Ian Happ.
   183. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 14, 2017 at 10:26 PM (#5576394)
Then I'm not interested and I doubt the Cubs are either. Also not sure Happ fits on the Yankees anyway.

There's no reason for the Yankees to give him away, but his value is pretty low (relatively speaking) considering the stretch run and playoffs he had. He's also a bit of a luxury with all the other great arms they have.
   184. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 15, 2017 at 05:34 PM (#5576857)
Heh
   185. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 16, 2017 at 11:21 AM (#5577233)
Nick Piecoro‏ @nickpiecoro

Dbacks have hired Jason Parks as their director of pro scouting. He’d spent the past 3 1/2 years as a scout/special assistant with the Cubs.
10:00 AM - 16 Nov 2017


---

Patrick Mooney doesn't think the Cubs are going after Britton.
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