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With the Giants’ World Series win last night, the offseason is upon us. Given that the offseason is always a critical time (particularly for the Cubs, right? “next year” and all that), I thought it worth laying out a roadmap of the important dates, deadlines, and time lines on things over the next few months. Some of the dates are considerably different this year, thanks to changes in the CBA.

October 29 – As soon as the World Series ends, players eligible for free agency become free agents. Shawn Camp is the Cubs’ only free agent (which is pretty amazing), and Theo Epstein has suggested the Cubs would like to re-sign him. That said, are they going to re-sign him during this five day window? I strongly doubt it – with apologies to Dale Sveum’s MVP, Camp is not likely to be such a highly sought after commodity that he needs to be signed (and take up a 40-man roster spot) immediately. That can wait until after the turn of the calendar.

October 29 to November 2 – Although players are immediately free agents, they cannot sign with a new team for five days. So, although there can be some negotiation (this is new this year, so I could have some of the details mistaken – the five day period used to be an exclusive negotiating window for the players’ current team (UPDATE: most sources say it’s still an exclusive negotiating window for the former team)), but no new contracts inked. At the end of that five-day window, teams must also make decisions on whether make a “qualifying offer” to free agents – in short, in order to receive draft pick compensation should a free agent sign with a new team, his former team must first offer him a one-year deal worth the average of the top 125 salaries in MLB from the previous year. The qualifying offer amount is expected to be around $13.5 million this year. If a player receives a qualifying offer, he can accept it, negotiate a different deal with his former team, or sign with another team, which team would lose its first round pick in the 2013 Draft (unless their first pick is in the first 10 selections, in which case they lose their second round pick).

Approximately November 2 to March 2013 – The “Offseason.” The “Hot Stove.” The “Lukewarm Stove.” Whatever you want to call it, this is the period where a team’s roster is built for the subsequent year via free agency, trades, minor league decisions, etc.

November 9 – Players must decide whether to accept the qualifying offer by this date. It’s fair to guess that big-time free agency won’t really get going until after this date, on the early side.

November 7 to November 11? – This is when the Chicago Cubs’ Organizational Meetings were going to take place last year before Theo Epstein decided it was too soon with the new front office (he moved the meetings to February). I’m assuming this year’s meetings will be around this time, as it makes more sense to have the meetings before the offseason than after it. Whenever they happen, the meetings will be, among other things, a time for the organization to conduct a hyper-focused sit down on what the offseason is going to look like, what organizational moves need to be made on the player development and coaching/scouting side (though they’ve done a lot of the latter already), etc.

November 12 to November 15 – The various MLB awards are announced. I don’t think you’ll have to concern yourself with these dates too closely this year. (Gold Gloves aren’t technically an MLB award, and they come earlier in the month.)

November 20 – A team’s 40-man roster must be set for the purposes of the Rule 5 Draft (i.e., players already in the organization that the team would like to protect must be added by this date). As we’ve seen over the past week, the Cubs are deep in the process of purging guys from the 40-man roster, which process will continue. From there, the Cubs will decide on a few young players to add to the 40-man so that they cannot be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, about which, more below.

November 30 – Deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players (i.e., generally-speaking, players with three or more  years of service time, but fewer than six years of service time). This will include guys like Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Luis Valbuena, James Russell, and Ian Stewart. Note that tendering a contract to these players is optional.

December 3 to December 6 – The Winter Meetings. The gist: MLB executives, agents, and players (as necessary) get together in Nashville for a week. The Winter Meetings are a notable source of rumors, signings, trades, etc. While not all of the big offseason moves go down at the Meetings, the groundwork for those moves is frequently laid at the Meetings. In short, it’s an exciting time for folks who love rumors – like a mini version of the trade deadline, but spread out over four days. (No, I will not be having a 96-hour blogathon.)

December 6 – The Rule Five Draft. The gist: players who’ve been in an organization’s system for a while (several years) without yet reaching the 40-man roster are eligible to be selected by other teams for a small fee, placed on that team’s 25-man roster, and then kept for good if the player can stick on the 25-man roster for almost all of the subsequent season. Last year, the Cubs took Lendy Castillo in the Rule 5 Draft, and lost Marwin Gonzalez and Ryan Flaherty.

Approximately December 15 to January 31, 2013 – This is about the time that the Cubs will be sending out non-roster invitations to 2012 Spring Training. The invitations go to prospects and players in the Cubs’ system who’ve not yet been placed on the 40-man roster, as well as veterans who are looking for a 2013 job, but have to “prove it.”

Approximately January 2 to January 31, 2013 – This is approximately when teams and players will submit arbitration requests (each side picks a number – we’ll have more on those details when the dates approach), and then hearings will be set, if necessary, for early February.

January 18 to January 20, 2013 – The Cubs Convention. Fans will get a chance to see, meet, and hear from Cubs players, coaches and management, and the Cubs frequently like to use the Convention as an opportunity to introduce a big offseason acquisition to the fans. The Convention will also be an opportunity to hang out with me, which I know is what you’re really excited about.

Approximately February 13, 2012 – Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and our irrational excitement builds.

  • Dustin

    Do you think the Cubs will try and go after Bourn ? I also just read that Anibal Sanchez is willing to sign with any team,may the Cubbies be interested?!!?

    • Cubbie Blues

      Sanchez has probably played his way above what the Cubs will be looking to pay this year.

      • willis

        Which is a shame seeing that the Cubs have money and they need pitching. But yeah, don’t expect them to sniff out Sanchez. He’s only exactly what the team needs. But who cares about competing?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Yes, Sanchez and Pagan both will be bringing some teams one step closer to realizing that post-season success is a poor predictor of future performance. Let’s hope that the Cubs are not among those teams! (It’s more apt to be an “old-school” team than a new school one, so we needn’t worry overmuch.)

        • Dr. Percival Cox

          To be fair, Pagan had a pretty good all around season. But past performance does not make me super optimistic for a repeat performance — and the team that signs him will likely regret the contract.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Well, he posted a .288/.338/.440 line. That was about the 6th or 7th best performance by an NL CFer with 300+ PA playing CF. However, you really are looking at an “upper quartile” year: i.e., one you might see every 4 years or so.

            So, a team that is otherwise set but that has a CF situation like the Cubs might do well to overpay on Pagan: he would represent a big relative improvement (possible 2-3 games) over that situation. Of the teams that are apt to contend next year, the Giants are first and foremost on that list!

            (The Giants are apt to overpay post-season heroes, as we saw with Aubrey Huff two years ago. And Bochy is happy to play veteran heroes over good young players, too, as we saw with him running Huff out there while benching Belt.)

            • terencem

              I’m with a lot of other posters who feel that Pagan might be the best option for the Cubs among free agents as long as there isn’t a bidding war for him. He’s a good target for a short term deal. Free agents are always “overpaid” but Pagan probably won’t require the same level of long term overpayment that will be given out for Bourn or Upton.

  • fortyonenorth

    Am I correct in saying that there is no benefit for Detroit to make a qualifying offer to a guy like Anibal Sanchez since he was a mid-season acquisition and, hence, Detroit wouldn’t be eligible for compensation?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Correct.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I think you are, but I also think he will also get more than $13.5M per year. Although I did find this from back in July
      Link

      One executive predicted to Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi that Sanchez would receive a four-year, $48 millon contract this offseason and said he would be the third-best starter available behind Hamels and Greinke, before Hamels agreed to his new deal.

      So, it is feasible that he could only get $12M/yr.

      • fortyonenorth

        Agreed. I was thinking about it more from the standpoint that if the qualifying offer came into play, the Cubs would lose a draft pick – something I’m sure they’ll avoid.

        • college_of_coaches

          Am I following this correctly? The Cubs wouldn’t loose a draft choice if they signed Sanchez?

          • DocPeterWimsey

            No, they would not. However, and as others have noted, because of the paucity of starters on the market and also because Sanchez pitched really well in some post-season games, somebody is going to offer Sanchez much more than he is worth. We can talk about how nicely he fits into the Cubs plans at $XM a year, but he’ll probably get a bigger offer from someone using “big game success” as a justification.

            And, let’s face it: a team above-average pitcher away from their goal might deem it worth overpaying to win now.

            • Hee Seop Chode

              unless we’re talking about contract length, what’s so wrong with overpaying? The Cubs certainly have payroll flexibility and a need for frontline pitching.

              Do you think someone will offer 6+ years?

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                What does overpaying now do to that payroll flexibility in the future?

                • terencem

                  The problem for the Cubs, imho, is that they’re set to start competing in a couple seasons and I wouldn’t want to see them overpaying a lot of players who are 2-3 years into their deals and getting older and less productive right when the team needs them the most.

                  • Dr. Percival Cox

                    I don’t entirely get overpaying for spare pieces now when you’re as far away as the Cubs are. The Nats overpaid for Jason Werth, but they were just a player or two away. The Cubs are about 10 players away. Those are being developed internally, but, until they get here, one roll player won’t turn things around. And spending money on middling players takes the really big name free agents off the table when they’re available. I’d rather have one David Wright and home grown talent than Anibal Sanchez, Kevin Youkilis, and Angel Pagan.

                • Kyle

                  If the team is properly managed and the farm system turns out half as good as the hype, then it will do very little to future payroll flexibility.

                  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                    Regardless of the management and farm system, it will be $13-$16M less they can play with through 2016 (assuming a 4 year deal, which I don’t think will get it done by the way).

                    And no one, not even Theo, will put that bet on the farm system. WHEN they make it, when it’s clear what players they can count on, THEN, I’m guessing is when they would be OK with an overpay on a #2/#3 pitcher….that has never thrown 200 innings.

                    • Kyle

                      And what, exactly, is that $13-16 million going to cost them?

                      This year, they could have spent three times that and not lost anything.

                      In future years, with even more pre-arb players coming into the lineup, there should be even less problem.

                      You should never “overpay,” by definition, but payroll flexibility is incredibly overrated. If you have too much of it, you are doing it just as wrong as if you have too little of it.

                    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                      Well, I can’t see the future, so I don’t know what player or players the Cubs will want in 2014 or 2015 or 2016.

                      They should overpay on players that will put them over the top, not on players that will help them win 2 more games and get them to 70 wins.

          • Hee Seop Chode

            If the Cubs don’t loose a draft pick, why wouldn’t they be interested in a 4 year deal? Certainly wouldn’t block any younger tallent, and at 28 he has some long term upside. I think this is exactly the type of 2-3 starters Jed has expressed an interest in targetting.

            Am I missing something?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              I imagine the Cubs will be interested at a four year deal.

              I also think a number of teams will put five and six year offers on the table, and I’m not so sure the Cubs will want to match that. If, for some reason, a four year deal can get things done, the Cubs will probably in contention for his services right up to the last minute.

              • terencem

                I thought, with guys like Fielder and Pujols last season, the Cubs were rumored to be offering higher AAVs for less years? That’s not a bad strategy. It’s the 75MM/5 deals for mid-tier players that worry me.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              The Cubs should definitely kick the tires on Sanchez. However, look for a team to badly overpay for him. I did poo-poo this as “old school silliness” but it then occurred to me that both the Yankees and Sox are in desperate need of starting, and both will be playing to win next year. They might overpay because, well, they can and they need another starter to win next year.

              • Dr. Percival Cox

                Don’t forget the Dodgers trying to buy the best players on the market at any price. It’s going to be fun watching that team completely implode.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  I agree and disagree. The Dodgers have a very good lineup (assuming you keep them off of the DL), but they have real starting pitching issues. There were real concerns about Kershaw’s arm at the end of last year, and Billingsley looks like he’ll be out for a few months. It’s tough to say what’s left in Beckett’s arm at this point.

                  Now, they got good performances from Capuano and Harang, but a pitching rotation with one of those guys as your #5 looks a lot better than one with those as your #4 and #5.

                  • Dr. Percival Cox

                    But, even in your version, the Dodgers should be big players for Sanchez, and they’ve shown that money is no object — so that’s also going to drive up his price.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Oh, right: I think that we are agreeing but for different reasons!

                      Something that gets left out of “value” is that all players do not have the same value to all teams. Sanchez really is much more valuable to teams like the Yanks, Sox and Dodgers than he is to the Cubs. So, what’s “overpaying” for the Cubs is “good investment” for (some) other teams.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Yes, you are. He does fit what the Cubs will be looking for, but as Doc stated, he will be getting a bigger contract than his ability deserves due to lack of pitching available this year as well as a good post-season (which should not be taken into consideration due to being a poor predictor).

  • @cubsfantroy

    Thanks for the dates. I was actually thinking about this last night. Good thing you’re on top of it.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Brett, I suggest you start a pool with your followers guessing what the Cubs total salary expenditures will be for the 2013 season. Since this is such a hot topic for discussion anyway why not make it interesting for all of us to follow. Maybe the winner could receive a BN t-shirt & 2 Cub tix to opening day at Wrigley.
    With Soriano at $18 M, Marmol at $ 9 , Garza thru arbitration at approx $12, Castro at $6 , & DeJesus at $ 4.5 there really isn’t much more to consider at this juncture until FA’s start to sign. My guess is $ 88.8 Million.

    • When the Music’s Over

      I like this game. I wouldn’t surprise me to see the Cubs go into next year with a payroll below $50M (assuming a trade or two), but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see them with a payroll near $90M. If I had to put money on it, I’d bet it’s closer to $50M than $90M, with ~$70M probably being a decent guess.

  • Carne Harris

    Bookmarked. Thanks for this.

  • Max

    Sanchez last 5 starts he had a 1.26 ERA meaning someone will vastly overpay for him. Thinking some team will give him 5 yrs $75 mil. Not sure how much Theo and Co. believe in a guy with career below 500 record and 3.75 ERA and -0.9 WAR. I think Sanchez played his way out of the Cubs desired budget this postseason. Big difference in investing 4yrs and 48 mil and 5 for 75 mil

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Max,

      We must be looking at different stats. Over at ESPN I see WAR of 1.6, 2.9, 3.5, and 2.6 over the past 4 years. That’s 2.65 4 year average, which is pretty nice #3. I love him at 4/48. I’d even like him at 5/75 – he’s never pitched 200 innings and you could argue has a lot in the tank.

      To quote Jerry McGuire, “no one ever said winning was cheap”.

      • Starwin Bastro

        Sorry I was looking at the wrong WAR stats you are correct for his WAR #s. Baseball ref has him at similar numbers to ESPN. Not completely against signing him for 5/75 but I dont want to get into a bidding war for him. I wouldn’t want to look back in 2015 when we are competing for a title and say “Damn I wish we had 15 million a year to spend on a pitcher to put us over the hump” when Sanchez is would be making that $$ and putting up 13-8 3.8ERA seasons. Not sure if 15 mil a year is worth a #3/4 pitcher IMO

  • Fastball

    $98,603,228.56 is the 2013 team salary. Got those numbers from today Horoscope.

  • Jeremy

    I’m not big on Anibel Sanchez. It think he has solid stuff and is a good MORP but he will get overpaid this offseason. Not to mention there should be legitimate concerns about his arm durability right now due to his past injuries (including TJS about 10 years ago I believe).

    • terencem

      Agreed. He’s kind of like this year’s Buerhle or Wilson (even though they’re totally different players).

  • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

    Both Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley have elected free agency. I wouldn’t mind a flyer on Stauffer, though I’ve had a crush on him for quite a while now.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/10/dustin-moseley-tim-stauffer-elect-free-agency.html

  • Myles

    Brett-

    You have a few grammar errors.

    When talking about November 20, you say “which process will continue.” It should be something like, “a process which will continue”.

    December 6, we “lost” Marwin and Ryan, we didn’t “lose” them, as this process is over.

    Sorry to be That Guy.

    I don’t want Sanchez, either. I do, however, really want an Upton (preferably both).

    • terencem

      I don’t think anyone should ever have to apologize about being that guy when it comes to something that could turn readers off to this site. If BN wants to be a professional site, then they need to write and edit like professionals. I say this with the up-most respect and appreciation for what these guys are attempting.

      • Tommy

        I think what you meant to say is ‘utmost’ of respect.

        • terencem

          Well said.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for the head’s up on the lost/lose typo (just a typo).

      The other is not a grammatical error – it may be phraseology that folks don’t use much anymore, but it’s correct (it actually appears a couple times in this post). Maybe it’s arcane or is used only in legal writing – I have a few of those things that are stuck in my head that I use from time to time out of habit.

      • Myles

        Huh. I totally believe you, but that phrase just sounds so weird to me. Obviously, I understand what it’s trying to say.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          It must just not be a common way of speaking/writing. I was used to seeing it a lot (very common phrase in legal writing, which is not a defense of the phrase, mind you, because a lot of legal writing is inaccessible crap), and I like the way it fits in those situations. I’ll have to think about it in the future, because I don’t want folks thinking I’m a dope.

      • mudge

        Is that “head’s up,” or “heads up,” according to Strunk and White?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Bah. Should be the latter.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    Sanchez – Samardzija
    7.68 – 9.27 [K/9IP]
    2.21 – 2.89 [BB/9IP]
    3.48 – 3.21 [K/BB]
    0.92 – 1.03 [HR/9IP]
    20.4 – 24.9 [K] (%)
    5.90 – 7.80 [BB] (%)
    46.4 – 44.6 [GB] (%)
    10.7 – 12.8 [HR/FB] (%)
    .261 – .237 [AVG]
    1.27 – 1.22 [WHIP]
    .310 – .296 [BABIP]
    70.2 – 73.0 [LOB] (%)
    96.0 – 94.0 [ERA-]
    88.0 – 89.0 [FIP-]
    3.53 – 3.55 [FIP]
    3.80 – 3.30 [WAR]

    The numbers are very similar (of course, tack on more innings for Sanchez). He improves our rotation instantly. We need offense. I expect that to come from RF when Soler arrives. We need players not to struggle in the first two months.

    • Kyle

      I don’t consider 9.27 K/9 and 7.68 to be very similar, and that’s pretty much the most important stat on the list.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        How about the K/BB?

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        The K and BB %’s are more important…but your point remains.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      We need players not to struggle in the first two months.

      When players are going to struggle is pretty random: half the months they’ll perform above average, half the months they’ll perform below average. Last year, some of the Cubs were playing below average during the first couple of months and others half were playing above average during the same time. (And quite a few were playing above average one month, below the next, or about average in both.) However, the overall talent level was such that everybody had to play above average most of the months if the team was to compete.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Of course, there is one big exception to this: Cubs players historically have fallen off in the last month, but that’s a different tale….

  • Kyle

    “They should overpay on players that will put them over the top, not on players that will help them win 2 more games and get them to 70 wins.”

    If Epstein and Hoyer can’t do better than 70, or even 80, wins with the $60-70 million they have available to them this offseason, then they aren’t as good as everyone thinks.

  • When the Music’s Over

    It surprises me that so many people believe this rebuild is only going to take another two years. That would have to happen in a perfect world where the Cubs (very) young core of minor league players contribute in a large way immediately upon making it to the big leagues, and that’s already assuming they all make it, which is a a sizeable assumption in the first place.

    In agreeing with Kyle, you could probably sign upper tier free agents to 3-4 year contracts that completely play out (or close to it) before the young core of players is ready to seriously contribute. Or in other words, trying to be competitive now shouldn’t really have much of an impact on the Cubs ability to sign a few big free agent contracts when they are ready to “truly” compete.

    All that said, I don’t think the Cubs will go that route. If Soriano ceased to exist today, and Garza and Marmol’s full contracts were traded, it actually wouldn’t surprise me if the Cubs went into next year with a payroll somewhere around $30M.

    • Dr. Percival Cox

      That would have to happen in a perfect world where the Cubs (very) young core of minor league players contribute in a large way immediately upon making it to the big leagues, and that’s already assuming they all make it, which is a a sizeable assumption in the first place.

      Presumably you’re talking about the Boise/KC team. No one expects all of them to make it. And if anyone does — you’re wrong, they won’t all make it. Now that’s taken care of. The assumption is that three or four of them will and complement the team — in 3 or 4 years. The goal is to bring in more classes like that so that the numbers game works in your favor.

      When people say 2 or 3 years, they’re talking about the upper level prospects — Baez, Watkins, Paniagua, Johnson (as a college pitcher, he’s expected to move much faster than, say, Underwood or McNeil) — wildcards to Torreyes, VIllaneuva, Jackson, and Vitters (or whoever you get for him). In addition, Castro and Rizzo are more mature and better players. That actually gives you a young core that can be complemented with free agents — and, importantly, by then the KC cohort will be tradeable for vets, as well — and that core promises that it will get better still with the strong draft classes of this year and next coming up.

      • Kyle

        So we’re going to waste the cheapest years of a Castr./Rizzo core while we wait for a Baez/Watkins core?

        Ewww.

        • Dr. Percival Cox

          To get to where the Cardinals are, yes.

          • Kyle

            You don’t need to do that to get to where the Cardinals are.

        • Dr. Percival Cox

          Actually, this will be fun. Tell us who you want the Cubs to go after with their $70 million this offseason. Then we’ll use the contracts they get to see how many of those guys they get, and then we’ll look at their WAR at the end of next season.

          • Kyle

            I’m not the GM of the Cubs. I expect more from them than I would from me.

            As always, this is impossible in the strictest sense because you don’t know all the moving parts in advance. For example, there’ve been rumors that the Mets might try to move David Wright if they can’t agree to an extension. I’m not counting on him being available, but if he is, the Cubs need to be all over that and then some.

            But sure, I’ll give it a shot.

            Give me Grienke and Villanueva in the rotation.
            Keep Valbuena for 3b absent a legit guy becoming available in trade.
            Pierzynski to complement Castillo at C.
            Upton in CF
            Bring back Camp and bring in Dotel to stabilize the bullpen.

            That should easily be under $70 million in new spending.

            Soriano/Upton/DeJesus (Sappelt, Campana)
            Valbuena/Castro/Barney/Rizzo (LaHair, utility guy)
            Pierzynski (Castillo)

            Grienke/Garza/Samardzija/Wood/Villanueva (Rusin, Struck as depth in Iowa, unless you want to stretch Bowden out again. Vizcaino will probably get some starts at some point, too)
            Marmol/Russell/Camp/Dotel/Cabrera/Bowden/Dolis (obviously some other guys could

            Could really use one more lefty out of the pen. Throw on some Affeldt if we have the money left.

            I like that team quite a bit. The rotation is well above average, the bullpen has excellent potential, and I don’t hate the offense.

            • Myles

              Pierzynski? Woof. The Cubs shouldn’t be anywhere near the dumb contract he gets. Give me Jose Molina (if his option is declined, which is 50/50) or basically anyone else.

              Greinke, sure, but be prepared to pay 8 and 160 above.

              Villanueva is a good option. So is McCarthy, or try to buy Lincecum from the Giants.

              Upton is job 1 as far as I’m concerned.

              I like this team all things considered.

              • Kyle

                A competent veteran lefty is my primary criteria for catcher. I’m not really all that picky on which one we get.

            • Kyle N

              Pierzynski has definitely had a poor history when it comes to the Cubs, although he could say the same for a lot of teams. I’m not sure he even considers the possibility, but that is something we as casual fans don’t really know. How much would you have to offer him to come play without him simply laughing at you and hanging up the phone?

              Dotel just finishing up playing for a World Series team that is an immediate threat to head right back there next year. How much would you have to pay him to come play for a team that would considered by most to be a second WC longshot when he is in his late thirties? Does a WS-title matter to him?

              Ah, the beauty of free-agent acquistions and lineup construction in a vaccuum. :)

        • Myles

          I like how you shortened Castro to Castr., when it’s the exact same number of keystrokes.

          • Kyle

            That wasn’t an abbreviation, it was a typo. Or rather, it was a bad fix of a typo. “Castro,.” turned into “Castr.,” instead of “Castro,”.

      • When the Music’s Over

        I can’t imagine that the vast majority of the guys the Cubs have in the upper minors will be any more than role/bench players on a championship level squad. Sure, those players are great to have around, but not game changers, and typically not enough to complement a few key free agent signings around in order to be a WS contender.

        Even guys like Pierce Johnson, who sure, if all falls right, could be a #2/#3 SP, are very likely to take longer than 2 years to be contributing in a serious manner at the MLB level. Remember, the new front office claims they want players getting a full year equivalent at AAA. While that won’t happen in every case, it will work to slow everything down even more.

        I’m all for a complete rebuild and getting high draft picks, etc, but to completely tank the MLB team for what could amount to 3-4+ straight years (after next year, we will have two tanked seasons), is tough for me to sit back and smile about, especially when you have the capability of having a top 5 payroll (and yet still make money). Again, I could be completely wrong and the Cubs could sign a bunch off players this off season or even next off season, however as of now, that type of spending wouldn’t jive with everything the front office has publicly messaged.

        • Spriggs

          “wouldn’t jive with everything the front office has publicly messaged”

          Jibe. Sorry, just a big pet peeve for all “intensive purposes” (#2 big pet peeve).

          • When the Music’s Over

            Thanks. Never knew that one.

  • Tommy

    Awesome article. This will come in handy this offseason. Thanks for taking the time to put this together, Brett!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Tommy.

  • Jim

    I think the Cubs should kick the tires on Sanchez, but like most have said, somebody is going to overpay to get him and I don’t expect that team to be the Cubs. I wouldn’t mind going after Dempster with a 3 year deal. He is still pitching very good, seems to like the Cubs organization, and could be Wood like in looking for a place in the organization once his playing days are done.

  • Greenroom

    I am just curious what people think about, luck? It seems that we have all these statistics, both traditional and advanced saber-metrics. We talk about OBP, WAR, FiP, BABIP…yada, yada, yada…it just all seems as if it comes down to who is “hot” during the playoffs. I mean, I don’t think anyone on here would disagree with the pitching prowess of the SF Giants or the offense of the Tigers. I don’t know if there are or does anyone know of any statistics used to predict a possible World Series winners? We could use some form of odds-ratio statistics? I know we use the above listed statistics to provide predictions for future performance…But after the Cardinals and SF Giants or historically the Atlanta Braves in the 90′s….I am just beginning to believe its about being lucky, while having people who have a higher probability for success in those situations. Yet, Verlander struggles, just like Cabrera when all the data says they should be successful. Last, what does it say about the Cubs and all the “statistical” gurus we have? I love the new front office, I am so excited about our future. I am just beginning to believe its all just a matter of being “hot” at the right time and luck. thanks for the help and I look forward to the comments. Go Cubs!

    • Kyle

      That is the general sabermetric consensus. There are some very small things you can do to try to shade the odds in your favor, but for the most part, the playoffs are just about luck.

      The important thing is to set yourself up to be in the playoffs every year. Don’t throw away years and assume you can make it up later, don’t pile up all your resources on a one-year uberteam.

      • Greenroom

        Thanks Kyle

        I agree. It just makes me feel, no matter how happy I am with the new front office that it is just about luck. I like our commitment to the long term potential once we start getting pieces in place with Castro, Rizzo, etc versus our short term signing the “big guns”. Just makes me want to take everything, signings, prospects with a huge “grain of salt”. thanks for the reply

        • terencem

          When I look at the Giants, this is how they built the foundation of this team.

          1st round picks:
          2002 – Cain
          2006 – Bumgarner
          2007 – Lincecum
          2008 – Posey
          2009 – Wheeler (traded for Beltran in 2011; also drafted Belt in the 5th round)

          They signed Sandoval as an amateur IFA in 2003; so they definitely have a strong core of internally developed talent that would rival any team in baseball and they’ve used that core to acquire other players in trades.

          • Kyle

            I don’t think anybody has denied the importance of internal development.

            • terencem

              I just see a lot of comments that seem to put importance on the acquisition of players when it was their farm system that allowed them to do it and it was some patience on the part of upper management with their farm system that allowed the core of this team to develop in the first place.

              • Kyle

                You mean the patience that caused them to sign Barry Zito to a $19 million/year deal, which in theory should have ruined their financial flexibility?

                Brian Sabean has generally been known as one of the least patient, least farm-friendly GMs in the game.

                They didn’t have a first-round pick in 2004 or 2005 because of free agent compensation.

                In 2007, the Giants finished 71-91, the same as that Cubs team that we had absolutely, positively no choice but to abandon institute a massive, multiyear rebuild.

                They had an aging roster, without a single starting position player under the age of 32, a couple of interesting starting pitchers and a couple over overpaid veteran starting pitchers, including Zito with possibly the worst contract in baseball.

                So what did they do the following off-season? Prepare your gasping mechanisms.

                Re-signed 40-year-old Omar Vizquel. *gasp*
                Signed 30-year-old FA Aaron Roward to a very large contract play the outfield *gasp*.

                Right when they should have been dismantling the team and preparing for a multi-year tank job, they foolishly wasted their draft position to sign a 30-year-old free agent who would just ruin their draft position and not even be around by the time they were ready to compete!

                So they only won 72 games instead of 71 in 2008. Surely they learned their lesson, right?

                Nope. They signed Bob Howry, Jesse Foppert and Jeremy Affeldt to join their bullpen. *clutches pearls and gasps at the thought of using resources to acquire veteran relievers to stabilize the bullpen*

                Signed a 32-year-old free agent Edgar Renteria to play SS *nearly faints at how they didn’t realize he woudn’t be around when they were ready to compete*.

                They brought in an 45-year-old Randy Johnson to take a shot in the rotation. They brought in 29-year-old Juan Uribe and 35-year-old Rich Aurilia to play the infield.

                Instead of buying in to this “ready to compete” garbage and giving up on five years, the Giants just kept plugging away. Sabean was a pretty popular guy to mock because of his aversion to rebuilding, actually. Lots of people, including Giants fans, were incredulous that he didn’t take the team into full rebuild mode after the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Two World Series in four years later, I think he has been vindicated.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  I’m going to assume you’re aware that Cain and Lincecum were already in the Majors by 2007, and you’re just choosing to gloss over that very, very, very important distinction.

                  • Kyle

                    If you dig hard enough, you can always find a difference.

                    They had a couple of great pitchers, a position we’ve struggled to develop. We’ve got a 3.5-win and improving SS, which is a position they’ve struggled with.

                    They had ~$80-90 million/year to spend until the last two years. We had $130+.

                    • terencemann

                      Why would any owner give their front office $130 MM to spend one year after losing 100 games?

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Lincecum and Cain accounted for more than 11 WAR in 2008. That wasn’t digging hard – that was acknowledging the obvious. To suggest that the 2011 or 2012 Cubs were in even remotely the same position as the 2007/2008 Giants in terms of offseason needs is completely and totally without basis, and dramatically understates the value of having a couple young arms like that on your big league roster.

                • terencemann

                  They were under .500 for 4 straight seasons and spent over 90MM on 3 of those losing seasons. Those are definitely not the results I’d like.

                  • Kyle

                    Too late.

        • Drew7

          “It just makes me feel, no matter how happy I am with the new front office that it is just about luck”

          Sort of: Coming out on top in the playoffs is, but getting there consistantly – which is what it takes to win it all – very rarely is.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    What is this obsession about not overpaying. As though it is your money fellows. The Cubs are a freaking ATM machine for the Ricketts.
    So lets throw Justin Germano and Casey Coleman and a couple more triple a starters out there, and boy we will really have that payroll under control. We can become the greatest fiscally managed 105 loss team in baseball history.
    Sign a couple proven starters, a reliable veteran bullpen arm, a centerfielder, and lets get this team to compete again. It is the freaking Central Division for crying out loud, anything less than spending 100 mil. in payroll is an insult to the fans.
    The Cubs have failed miserably in producing major league talent in their minor league system the last five years. So fix the minor league system(which they are doing), and go out and pay some of the players you failed to develop. What else can you do, just give up. BS.

  • Tim

    http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20121029&content_id=40119678&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

    I find it very puzzling that Buster Posey is the favorite to win the NL MVP but is not even a finalist for a Gold Glove

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    With the new CBA, fans are going to have to get used to their teams “overpaying” for free agents. The restrictions on International and draft spending totally allow for the extra money to channel there (free agency).

    The fact remains: we need two starting pitchers for 2013. I can see us out-righting Coleman to free up another roster spot soon. I think we trade Junior Lake to make another roster space and a Rule 5 eligible player to get another starting pitcher.

    The Rays should consider a deal for James Shields. With the $70M+ we have available in payroll, picking up the $9M option on Shields and sending over a few minor league players could get the job done and round out our rotation.

    We can take a flyer on Scott Baker and keep him in the bullpen until the trade deadline.

    Shields $9M
    Sanchez $14M
    Garza $10M
    Samardzija $2.9M
    Wood $0.55M
    Baker (long relief) $4.25M

    = $40.7M in rotation depth for 2013

    • terencem

      I think the consensus is that the Cubs don’t have the pitching prospects to land Shields which is not to say that they won’t at least see what the Rays want.

  • OCCubFan

    Would anyone like to comment on the fact that Aramis Ramirez is a finalist for a Gold Glove?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s stupid?

  • Brian

    What happened to the GM Meetings in November i thought the gm meetings happened and a month later it was the winter meetings?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      We’ll see if they do that again this year – they did it last year, but that was the first time I remember them doing it. I didn’t see any official dates for it, so I didn’t include it. Anyone?

  • Kyle

    “Why would any owner give their front office $130 MM to spend one year after losing 100 games?”

    To help them win more games in the immediate future. I thought that was obvious.

  • Kyle

    “To suggest that the 2011 or 2012 Cubs were in even remotely the same position as the 2007/2008 Giants in terms of offseason needs is completely and totally without basis, and dramatically understates the value of having a couple young arms like that on your big league roster.”

    So if you are starting a team and you have can choose between 2007/2008 Lincecum/Cain, or 2012 Starlin Castro and $35 million in payroll, you don’t think that’s at least a choice that you should pause over?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I wouldn’t pause for a second.

      (And that’s fallacious anyway, given that the Giants had *extra* money to play with, too, by virtue of those two pitchers costing them nothing at the time.)

      • Kyle

        The Cubs had extra money because of some of their young players, too. And they still had all that payroll. And it’s not like the Giants were strangers to dead weight contracts, either.

        OK, how about post-2007 Cain+Lincecum vs. post-2011 Castro, Garza and a payroll set $35 million higher.

        That’s got to be close, right?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Fair, and closer, but we disagree on that $35 million (going into 2012, given what was spent, it was more reasonably like $20 million). To me, I look at the ending 2007 Giants roster and the ending 2011 Cubs roster, and I see one team that makes sense to sign a couple big free agents, and one that doesn’t.

          That reminds me, we need to do that 2012 spending post. Are you waiting on me, or am I waiting on you? I forget.

          • Kyle

            One of the two. I’ll get around to editing it this week.

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