Theo Epstein’s Thoughts on Long-Term Contracts and Other Bullets

The Winter Meetings end today, and it’s fair to say it’s been a modestly disappointing week for Cubs fans. That is not to say it’s been a “bad” week, as I can’t yet point to a move the Cubs made or failed to make that upset me (heck, Mark Buehrle is the only player of consequence that changed teams). Still, expectations for excitement were high. Maybe that was unfair…

  • The Rule 5 Draft is this morning (9am CT), and the Cubs have the sixth pick. The Draft could go several rounds, but it tends to be the case that teams stop picking by the third round. The Cubs, it should be noted, have the smallest 40-man roster in baseball right now (34), so they could pick up a few players, if they wanted. Don’t expect anyone who will knock your socks off. I’ll cover the Rule 5 here, live-ish.
  • Finally, we have confirmation that the $5 million delayed payment to Carlos Pena (recall, his $10 million contract for 2011 was paid in three parts: $2 million as a signing bonus, $3 million as 2011 salary, and a delayed $5 million payment), which will be paid in January, will count against the 2012 budget. That’s a bummer. It’s sort of an academic point, as Tom Ricketts could authorize whatever budget he wants (for example, he could bump it up $5 million if Epstein convinced him of the necessity). But, it will have to be considered when we say things like, “if the Cubs’ payroll for 2012 is $130 million, then they have $X left to spend.”
  • Theo Epstein shared his thoughts on long-term contracts and the value of available dollars yesterday, continuing to espouse his belief in building from within. “Just look at the history of long-term free-agent contracts – they tend not to work out,” Epstein said. “As tempting as they are and as great a way they are to improve your club in the short term, there’s two sides with free agency …. The most valuable commodity in the game these days is not dollars, it’s the prospects you project to be regulars or better and good young players under control. That’s the swagger, and the whole universe is open to you if you have those players to work with. … That’s the currency of the game, is good young players more than available dollars.” All good stuff. Keep in mind, this is a guy who just one year ago signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year deal. He understands the importance of free agency, but it’s also possible that he felt a little burned by that one, which looked ugly the day it was signed (and only looks worse after Crawford’s disastrous 2011 season). It is for these reasons that I simultaneously expect the Cubs to pursue Prince Fielder, but not offer a deal any longer than six years at the absolute longest.
  • The Theo Epstein compensation issue and the Jed Hoyer/Jason McLeod compensation issues are expected to be resolved soon (each was waiting for the Rule 5 Draft). On the latter, Epstein says the issue will be easy to resolve. “That one [with the Padres] is a little simpler,” Epstein said. “We have a list of players, lower-level guys, who we get to choose from. That will be done in a timely manner, hopefully.”
  • Much to their chagrin, Francisco Rodriguez accepted the Brewers’ offer of arbitration last night, putting them on the hook for a $13 or $14 million salary in 2012. He could still be cut at some point for 30 days’ pay ($2.5 to $3 million), or could be traded. But it certainly wasn’t something the Brewers were prepared for, budgetarily-speaking, and it deprives them of the compensatory pick they were expecting. How do you mix “schadenfreude” and “Brewers”?
  • Tim McCarver yesterday won the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence. (… too many jokes … head might explode … credentials … folksy … Joe Morgan … *BOOM*)

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

70 responses to “Theo Epstein’s Thoughts on Long-Term Contracts and Other Bullets”

  1. Fishin Phil

    Brewenfraude.

    1. hansman1982

      Damn you and your ninja like posting skills

      1. Fishin Phil

        Ninja puppets are lethal!

  2. Fishin Phil

    I’m sure Mr. Frick is spinning in his grave.

     

  3. hansman1982

    Brewenfreude?

    Alos, given what has transpired in Boston over the last 3 months, I think the Crawford contract may be similar to the Soriano contract.  In that each GM wanted to do XYZ and then their higher ups came in and said, nope, we are going to add this on – which took each contract from “Meh, there is probably better things to do with this $100M” to “Holy Frack-stick that is a terrible contract”

  4. JB88

    At this point the only way the Frick award would be more of a joke is if they gave it to Joe Morgan. That said, the broadcasting talent has diminished greatly in the last 20 years. The day of the great broadcasters seem to be at an end, sadly.

    1. Luke

      And then there is Pat Hughes on the Cubs radio. He is one of the best radio baseball broadcasters I’ve ever heard.

      1. Fishin Phil

        Agreed!

    2. ferrets_bueller

      Especially in baseball, they’re diminished greatly. There are some good football broadcasters, and a surprisingly large amount of quality NHL guys, but man…baseball’s lineup is pretty barren.

    3. Lou

      It’s not just broadcasters doing live games, it extends to ESPN and sports radio as well.

      1. ferrets_bueller

        ESPN is just so bad…its just another example of how America somehow has come to a majority consensus that intelligent thoughts and analysis don’t matter, being able to shout louder and say things more convincingly does. Soundbites, short attention span, shouting!!!

        1. Lou

          All I gotta say is BOOYAH! LOL.

  5. Chris84

    Braudenfreude?

  6. Polar Bear

    Don’t even get me started on that pompous jerk McCarver. This award feels like he donated $$$ to someone’s personal pocketbook charity so he could win an award because other actual journalists were honored and he wasn’t. This guy is the true essence of the word “douchenozzle”!!!!

    1. MC2

      Shall we call him Tim “Massengill” McCarver?

  7. jstraw

    *BOOM*

  8. Jason"Thundermug"

    2 Things : 1st we have a high selection in the Rule V draft so either we should pick a player decent and do 1 of 2 things ( keep it or trade that player for something else)

    2nd I can live with Blake Dewitt, Jeff Baker to keep it warm for Josh Vitters if that is the worst case scenario if we can’t get Chase Headley for example

  9. OHBearCub

    Kinda like obama’s nobel …. both are jokes…

    Mccarver is the worst … unbelievable… douchenozzle just made my dictionary. I will be using that in sentences all day….

  10. MC2

    Can’t find it now but read somewhere last night that we actually get the 4th pick overall for Rule 5 draft due to the fact that there are 11 teams that have no open spots on their roster… …

     

    1. polocubs

      i read the same thing…i believe it was on mlb.com

      1. MC2

        I saw Pittsburgh moved somebody to free space…

  11. njriv

    Pujols is off the market! Signed with the Angels for 10ys $250-260 million, full no trade clause, he decided Thursday Morning. Now that only leaves Price.

  12. BD

    “schadenbrewde”

  13. Mike Foster

    This is perfect, (… too many jokes … head might explode … credentials … folksy … Joe Morgan … *BOOM*), could only be better if someone said he was scrappy. Hmmm, maybe just drop the “s”.

  14. MightyBear

    I still believe rumors that Theo didn’t want to sign Crawford for that long of deal but Luccino came in and forced the issue. One of the many reasons Theo is here in Chicago.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      Funny, I’ve been saying that all along. But I also stand by my belief that the crawford contract will be nowhere near as bad as it looks right now- I fully expect him to bounce back.
      But, yeah…I think he was forced into several of those moves, particularly Lackey and Crawford. I don’t know why Luccino even hired a GM, since he makes them do what he wants anyways…Fall guy? Golden Parachute?

    2. Lou

      I just have to wonder, then, for all the crap Tony Reagins got for getting Vernon Wells. Then, he got fired by Moreno and now the Angels get Pujols, makes you wonder what Reagins was forced to do as well, if you’re gonna put it that way.

  15. JANNENGA

    Pujols is not the same as Crawford or Soriano….The Fact is anyone who Buys into what Epstien is saying is an idiot the truth is Ricketts is a cheap ass and Epstien is not going to get us a World Series Championship…….After not winning a Championship for over 100yrs All Cubs Fans Deserve better then this………..Young Talent does not equal a championship……….The Omaha Storm Chasers won this past Yr in AAA and took 2nd the Year before and they are the AAA of the KC Royals and so if this was true what Epstien said the Royals should have won one or will win one in 12.But we all know thats not going to happen………..Epstien and Hoyer are liars………..Any Cubs Fan who follows them is an Idiot………..If they don’t sign Fielder then I am done with these Losers…..33yrs is enough of watching these Idiots run this Program into the Ground……Those of you who scream about me not being Loyal…….If the Cubs was a woman and she had 250 Million to bail ya out of Trouble and she refused to spend any of it would ya stay with her………..No you wouldn’t , you would call her greedy and not loyal to you……….Then I would ask why would you root for a Team that isn’t loyal to it’s Fans…………I will wait to see if they make some real moves but if not I am done…….Not gonna wait 88yrs for nothing Like my Grandpa did……

    1. Jim

      hey Sox fan, don’t you have something better to do than troll a Cubs site?

    2. BetterNews

      It is looking like that as things progress.

    3. ferrets_bueller

      He’s 32 (-34) years old. Its a 10 year contract. Are you kidding me? This is not the market to be throwing money around- nearly every single FA is overvalued in comparison to their age, weight, or track record. Massive inflations of value- Its a good year to keep your wallet in your pocket and make trades.

      1. BetterNews

        Apparently they have the money to throw around and Cubs don’t.

        1. ferrets_bueller

          The Cubs have the money. The Yankees have the money. Do you see them throwing it around? No. Because they’re smart enough to realize when they’re going to be taken. If Pujols earns more than 125 million of that contract (5 years), I’ll be shocked. Its called having forethought.

          1. Kyle

            Well, to be fair, part of the reason the Yankees aren’t spending is because they are already stacked at pretty much every position.

            1. ferrets_bueller

              They could really, really used some starting pitching. But to commit massive amounts of money to questionable players, like Wilson, isn’t smart. Similar to how the Cubs have avoided paying for past production so far this offseason.

          2. Lou

            So, the Burnett signing was a good one? IS that what I hear you saying? Looks to me like everyone, including Theo and Jon Daniels, talk sabremetrics but in the end, when their respective team has the chance to get a game changer, they offer the big contract or overspend. Fiction and theory vs reality.

    4. Sweetjamesjones

      @JANNENGA – Are you stuck in the old ways of Hendry and the Tribune company?

      Are you at home wearing your Milton Bradley shirt?

      Just curious. Chill out.

    5. R.I.P. Santo

      dot dot dot dot your ass off our site

      1. Katie

        Quite a few dickheads around lately that need to do just that, RIP!

        1. MichiganGoat

          Best to just ignore and enjoy the quality posters and comments. Some people just need an arguement in order to feel better about themselves. Best to just leave them alone.

          1. Katie

            But I don’t wanna!

            Believe me, I’ve been restraining myself to an amazing level (for me). I’ve had some really kick ass responses typed up and then stopped myself from posting.

  16. jr5

    As to Theo’s point about free agency vs prospects, let’s not forget that he traded a boatload of prospects last season for Adrian Gonzalez, and then signed him to a 7 yr/154 million dollar extension, thereby using both forms of currency he talked about. And that would, given the prospects involved, be a higher price to pay for a 1st baseman than signing Fielder would be, even if Fielder’s dollar value is higher.

    So, you could argue that his whole point about how valuable it is to keep your prospects and acquire more can also be taken as a sign that signing free agents to fill holes in your system is a crucial way to improve your team, since you don’t have to give up those prospects in order to do it.

    1. MoneyBoy

      Everybody’s jaw dropped when that happened.  No one thought he was available.

      What did the Red Sox get in return:   213 hits, 27 HR, 117 RBI, .338BA, ,410 OBP, .548 SLG, ..957 OPS, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger … and really good defense.   Solid return on the investment I’d say.

      Pujols (allegedly) turns 32 in January.  AGon turns 30 in May.

      1. ferrets_bueller

        A-Gonz is, IMO, the best 1B in baseball to possess, weighing contracts and age heavily. He should be extremely productive throughout that entire contract, something that cannot be said for Pujols, Teixera, Howard, or Fielder’s upcoming deal.
        The trade and sign of Gonzales is the perfect example of why Theo is such a good GM. Did he wait to overpay for old or questionable players in FA? Nope.

        1. Lou

          We’ll see what the back end of that deal yields, though.

  17. jr5

    Yeah. The Gonzalez deal worked for Boston, and it also helped stock San Diego’s farm system and boost it into the upper echelon in the majors.

    And the Cubs now have basically everyone involved who made that deal in their front office.

    Fielder is even younger than Gonzalez, obviously, but that is probably cancelled out somewhat by the fact that Boston can DH Gonzalez at some point, and Gonzalez is a better defender anyway.

    Even so, I just have yet to see anything that suggests that the Cubs have ruled out signing someone like Fielder.

    And the quote today to Gammons about not having enough cash…is it possible that’s just a joke based on what the Angels did today after claiming they had limited resources? I could see Theo doing something like that just for a laugh, to be honest. (Edit: Because it’s not like they’ve failed to control leaks; anything you see reported about the Cubs has probably come out by design.)

    1. MoneyBoy

      Yup …  AGon played in 159 games, 156 at 1st base.

      LOTS of people are scared off Fielder because of A. his build and B. his poor defense (esp range).   IMO he’s a much better fit in the AL.

      And I agree … anything coming out from the Cubs is by design.   These guys are smart !!!

      1. ferrets_bueller

        He reminds me a bit of a baseball version of Belichick- exploit any possible avenue of gaining even the smallest advantage, uncover every stone. Belichick doesn’t let any info out, until he plants something he wants to get out in order to gain an advantage.
        These dudes are, indeed, smart.

    2. EQ76

      absolutely!! the Cubs have money to spend and Epstein/Hoyer have a history of being aggressive with signings and trades..

      1. BetterNews

        Then what are they waiting for? 2015?

        1. ferrets_bueller

          …a deal that isn’t stupid? A fool and his money are easily parted. Patience is a virtue. yadda yadda yadda….etc.

          1. BetterNews

            If no deal is ever made, then I guess nobody can be called stupid. Is this what I am hearing?

  18. Deer

    have to say, Theo/Jed brought some of the cub fans disappointment over non-action on themselves. A week ago Jed told the reporters there will be a lot of Cubs activity during the meetings.

    1. Kyle

      “A week ago Jed told the reporters there will be a lot of Cubs activity during the meetings.”

      Bingo. Objectively, the players that make the most sense for the Cubs are still on the market and not much has happened yet.

      Less objectively, I just spent four days refreshing twitter feeds and rumor mills for nothing because Jed promised me lots of activity, so I’m a bit cranky.

      1. Deer

        yeah, worst part is the only real Cubs rumors centered on Ian Stewart, enough said. I read mlbtr set a record for page views yday, how bout you brett? Oh well, maybe next week we’ll see some action.

        1. Lou

          The additional comment to that is MLBTR doesn’t have the Cubs acquiring much more than DeJesus from FA. So, the inactivity part you spoke of may have some truth to it.

  19. hansman1982

    I highly doubt the Cubs missed out on anyone that they had as a top priority heading into these meetings.  To think that the TOP (words of a majority of his peers, not mine) executive in the industry got taken like a school age boy in a Penn State lockeroom is just being an obtuse troll.

    Did we really want to sniff Pujols at 10/$260 or Wilson at 6/$100 or Reyes at 6/$100 or Burhle at 4/$60?  Hello, this is what Jim Hendry did in 2007 and we are reaping the benefits right now.

    It seems to me, just watching on the outside, that the Winter Meetings are the offseason equivelant of the trade deadline.  You have a few GM’s who act like fools, our PBO/GM did not do this.

    Grade: A+ for the past week.

    1. MoneyBoy

      Hansman … nice  for that to happen isn’t it?

  20. Kyle

    “Did we really want to sniff Pujols at 10/$260 or Wilson at 6/$100 or Reyes at 6/$100 or Burhle at 4/$60? Hello, this is what Jim Hendry did in 2007 and we are reaping the benefits right now.”

    The problem right now is that we don’t have any impact players, not that we don’t have enough money. I’m not seeing the big problem with right now.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      The problem with now is that we’d have a lot more money to spend if it weren’t for the Hendry contracts that are still on the books. That includes prior years, when there could have been more money to spend on smarter FA acquisitions. The amount that was tied up in Hendy’s failed big signings also could have been spent on the draft and other minor leaguers now, some of which could have turned into the impact players we lack. He essentially put all the money in a couple baskets, instead of using it to build. That’s the root of the problem now.

    2. MoneyBoy

      No .. No .. No .. NO

      Yes … Yes … Yes … Yes

      With the exception of Soriano, 2012 essentially marks the end of the Spendry Era.

      1. Lou

        I suppose. The only big impact FA I think is worth signing is Fielder and if you can acquire him for 6-7 years or less, which may be possible, you do it. I don’t think that represents a return to the “Spendry” Era. However, if the Cubs go after unproven Cepedes and/or Darvish, you’re right the Spendry Era could be back. Those guys do come with big pricetags and big risks.

    3. hansman1982

      We have a problem with both and they feed each other in an infinite loop.  We don’t have enough impact players because we don’t have the payroll room to sign impact players.

      Another part of the problem is that Hendry didn’t spend enough in the draft prior to last year so we don’t have any good options in the minors.  Blame whomever, but Hendry clearly favored today over tomorrow and we see that in everything he did.

      Do I think that if Ricketts wanted to expand payroll to $150M he could, yes.  Do I think it would be wise to do so, especially this offseason? Absolutely not.  The new CBA is going to get a lot of players a LOT of money this offseason.  Once teams have a run through of the draft this summer I think you will see FA salaries not be so crazy.

      1. BetterNews

        FA salaries will always be crazy and get crazier yet, we all know that.

  21. Dougy D

    McCarver is not that good. At least they didn’t give it to Joe Buck. Buck Sucks!

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