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Well this came out of left field (or right field, as the case may be. Hi-yo.)

According to Jerry Crasnick and Jon Heyman, the Cubs are close to finalizing a one-year deal with non-tendered outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

The 28-year-old outfielder was traded to the Phillies by the Giants midseason, and put up a .257/.321/.407 line across the two stops. He’s long been a platoon/bench type guy, playing both corner outfield spots, and put up a .278/.326/.430 line over 115 games in 2011. That was good for a 114 OPS+ (undervalued asset much?).

Multiple Cubs sources are confirming the signing, with the expectation that Schierholtz will be the Cubs’ starting right fielder.

He’s a career .266/.319/.413 hitter against righties, so it’s possible he’ll be a platoon-mate with Dave Sappelt, a righty (though Schierholtz’s numbers against lefties aren’t much worse). The advanced stats say he’s been decent defensively, but probably something short of very good.

It isn’t a particularly sexy signing, but Schierholtz was garnering a great deal of interest in recent days, and could make for a flippable piece midseason (everyone’s favorite phrase). He could be a stop-gap starter, or an eventual 4th outfielder. Either way, given the Cubs’ expectations for 2013, adding Schierholtz is just fine.

Obviously we’ll have much more on the signing in the coming days.

UPDATE: To including the numbers, Crasnick reports that Schierholtz is getting $2.25 million plus $500K in incentives, which, if accurate, is just a phenomenal deal. No, he’s not a game-changer, and yes, he’s just a platoon guy. But that’s a dirt cheap, minimal commitment for a guy who can actually produce some offensive value. I should be plain, though: it does signal that the Cubs are, indeed, not going to be particularly aggressive in terms of “competing” in 2013.

UPDATE Part 2: As noted astutely in the comments, if the Cubs like what Schierholtz offers this year, he’s actually under control through 2014 by virtue of not having enough service time for free agency by the end of 2013. So the Cubs could offer him arbitration after the season.

  • TonyP

    BLAH

  • Mike

    Y’all a bunch of haters

    • TonyP

      I hate the fact that we are intentionally tanking another freaking season.

  • Kubphan82

    I like how everyone analyzing the deal and his numbers think they’re better talent evaluators and bettter front office gurus than Theo/Jed… There’s rhyme and reason as to why they signed Nate.

    If anything he’ll be a strong defender, above average against RHP, a .750 OPS, and perhaps the team is not willing to overpay or players they really don’t want for the sake of signing them and would rather give a guy a chance.

    Also, because of the way his numbers play over 162 games, not considering any possible bump, he could make the Cubs inclined to trade DeJesus, especially considering the fight over OF FA…

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Not a fan of the signing. don’t see much flippability to this signing. Won’t get much of anything in return for this guy midseason. maybe just a fringy top 20 guy. but they did get a good contract for him though

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “maybe just a fringy top 20 guy”

      Sounds good to me. It’s all about perspective.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Once upon a time, Darwin Barney was a fringy top 20 guy.

        Those guys do sometimes have value in the majors.

        • Hee Seop Chode

          How many of those guys did it take to get one Barney? Do you believe Barney is the long term guy at 2nd?

          I think the reason you’re getting such a strong reaction to the signing tonight is that it can be (mis)construed as the offseason’s big move. I was hoping for a bit more than 2 bounce back starters, and unproven reliever, and Nate Schierholtz.

    • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

      He could be our pinch hitter deluxe in two or three years. On the cheap, and good on defense.

  • gutshot5820

    Go ahead and blast me for complaining. Ricketts is CHEAP. Every player we sign is from the bargain bin. We are officially now the Oakland Cubs. Four years of straight declining payroll and no end in sight. Our only hope is the talent in A ball, LOL so we can field a team with a CHEAP payroll.

    • Muck

      Oakland made the playoffs you know. Just sayin

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Oakland had young starting pitching. We do not. they also had a more talented roster

    • TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      You do make a valid point. Since Ricketts has bought the team, what is the biggest free agent signing he has allowed the GM???

      Carlos Pena 10M one year deal is all I can think of, extensions signed by Hendry don’t count.

      The Dodgers get bought and start shitting money out their ass!!!

      • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

        Soler

      • Frank

        Yeah, and how’s that working out for the Dodgers so far?

        • Hee Seop Chode

          better than the Cubs.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Can I just say after this signing its going prove how damn terrible we are going to be this season

    • Muck

      well we are the lovable losers hah

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    We should just trade marmol, soriano now and garza during spring training, so we can compete with the astros and marlins for the 1st overall pick in the draft now? Please, seriously it is pathetic how bad this roster is

  • Troy

    This is a very good move! No risk high reward. we are building this team one piece at a time. Its not about competing this year and we all know it. No need to be disappointed, our FO have been up front from the beginning. I was listening to Billy Beene in a discussion with MLB network. He totally believes you can build a contender with a bunch of these type of signings. I think we can expect progress, not contention..in 2013…any move forward is positive at this point.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      @Troy: I disagree. no flip with Schierholtz. Not going to get much of anything midseason for him

  • David

    NO. Good grief, we have three right fielders playing the outfield! This is annoying… Scheirholtz wouldn’t start on 25 MLB teams! hes not good! Unless we can sign Bourn still, or bring Campana up, and trade soriano.

  • NickSchierholtzIsMyHero

    I know this is very Cubs-fan-optimist sounding, but you guys may be very surprised to see what Schierholtz can do if given 500 ABs. No, he doesn’t seem to have a ton of power, (though he may be Babe Ruth compared to David Dejesus – why is HE not a 4th OF?) but he used to be a prospect and has never really gotten a chance to pile up ABs and see what he can do. This was a smart no-risk cheap signing that solidifies RF at least for this year. It fills in RF with someone who can hit major league pitching. There’s plenty of money to upgrade if the team is actually any good in the first half.

  • Trueblue

    Brett, has anyone ever posted a what if scenario for 2012? Meaning, if the cubs would have signed certain players last season is there a scenario where they would have made the playoffs? Obviously a lot of variables here but based off performance numbers from 2012 could this have been achieved?

    • gutshot5820

      How about if we signed Darvish and Cespedes last year? They were both young and talented. Both worth the number one pick in any draft. Only costs money but the Ricketts were too CHEAP too do it because they want/need a lower payroll to finance the stadium and pay their debt service.

      Everyone keeps saying we don’t have enough talent. Well that is such idiotic thinking. You are not going to get all your talent in free agency in one year. You have to add last year and again this year and continue to fill your needs every year. You don’t pin your hopes on A ball players and HOPE to add/fill in holes later. THAT’S BACKWARDS. You fill your team NOW and hope that some of the youngsters can fill holes later or at least be used in trade to fill holes.

    • Kyle

      We’ve done lots of alternative seasons.

      You can get to the playoffs, but with Garza’s injury and Soto and Byrd’s cliffdives, it takes a near god-like foresight and taking a much less “must have all the things” attitude toward prospects and the future.

  • Kyle

    I do think this approach can work.

    The main problem is that you have to be *very* exacting with how you use your roster. You need useful players at all 25 spots. There can’t be any “Derp, Joe Mather!” moments when you are making decisions in the spring.

    And you need to really stack the bullpen. We’d need to keep Marmol (which we reportedly will do, at least to start the season) and add at least one more really good reliever, maybe two.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’m a fan of modern teams with modern stats and modern tracking methods using platoons. I like the idea of the Cubs building around platoons in right and maybe third. I wish they could do it in center and at second as well.

      • Troy

        makes sense. it takes a team to win. These big signings are not really about winning .. its about making the fan base of a certain team feel good about the team. Teams that play the numbers simply dont care about sexy signings. Good job Theo/Jed!

      • Kyle

        3b and CF are kind of the flies in the ointment. I don’t know how you’re going to find even a decent platoon out of the position with what’s available this offseason at third.

        I really don’t like DeJesus in CF. That’s giving away a lot with the glove for a not-that-special bat. And Sappelt can’t be both guy’s platoon partners, so we really would still need one more guy who can hit lefties and play the outfield.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          At third, I’d be ok opening the season with Valbuena, and moving to a Valbuena/Vitters platoon in the second half. I see little point in giving up on a guy who had an OPS of .869 in his first year of Triple A as a 22 year old, but I suspect I’m about the last Cub fan alive who thinks that way.

          I agree in center, though. The Cubs need one more guy to make it work, and I’m not sure who that is yet.

          And I wouldn’t mind having a back up plan for Sappelt, too.

          • Kyle

            And I just keep coming back to needing one more pitcher in the Jackson/Marcum/McCarthy tier, *and* a deeper bullpen. You just can’t have any holes in your pitching staff if you are trying this approach.

            It’s like a college basketball team trying to run an 8-man rotation of all 6-foot-4, technically sound 3s. It’s beautiful when it works, but if one thing gets out of whack you get trounced.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              I’d love to snag Marcum and McCarthy both. Doubt it will happen, but it would be nice.

              Rusin should still be an option, and they are stretching out Cabrera. That could help (and if not, the extra pitches should help him in the pen when he moves back… practice makes better).

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I think even if the Cubs added one of those starters, plus added Grilli and kept Marmol … the 2013 team is still well below .500.

              • Kyle

                I’d say with that scenario … 79 win projection? Just doing some mental back-of-the-napkin spitballing metaphor mixing. Of course, that’s without any mid-season firesales.

                We threw away so, so, so many wins last season with lack of pitching depth from rotation to pen. And as always, nobody’s a 61-win team long-term, there’s a significant pull to the middle to be expected from regression to the mean.

                You’ve got at least an average rotation combined with an above-average bullpen, but of course a well-below-average offense.

              • Hee Seop Chode

                I agree, but that would be progress right? Don’t teams typically improve year over year for a few years before being competitive at the highest level? I believe that was the case with the Nats.

            • MightyBear

              So if the Cubs signed Marcum/McCarthy and Grilli, you would be on board. Is that correct?

              • Kyle

                “On board” is a very relative term.

                I’d call it a D+/C- team from a front office with A resources and an A pedigree.

    • jt

      Glad to read some else phrase that…
      agreed

  • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

    What’s amazing is that the last two years anyone the cubs signed was someone that I hadn’t even heard of or thought they had retired. And every move turned out to be garbage. This isn’t how you build a team.

    • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

      Maholm was garbage?

      Okay?

    • MightyBear

      I really don’t see how you can say the Maholm signing was “garbage”. It was one of the best moves I’ve seen the Cubs make as an organization in years. It certainly beats Bill Madlock leading the league in hitting and then they trade him because he wanted a raise for Bobby Mercer and then pay Mercer more money than Madlock wanted.

    • mudge

      Maholm, DeJesus, Camp. Not “garbage.”

  • MightyBear

    The Cubs have spent 26 million on 6 free agents. What’s their payroll now? Who had that payroll breakdown? Is it 101 million? Is that right?

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Around $90 mil payroll but we have the talent of a $55-$60 mil payroll. Its pathetic

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    Some of you need to relax. Cubs have a plan and we kind of knew wouldn’t be good for 2012, 2013. Cubs goal during the last year or so is to build our minor league system so we can build for the future. Our minor league system has improved but the players who are going to be the foundation for the future are a couple years away yet.

    • TonyP

      “Our minor league system has improved but the players who are going to be the foundation for the future are a couple years away yet.”

      So we need to suck until then? Can we not try to be competitive awaiting the arrival of the newly drafted saviors (how many will actually pan out, but that is another topic)? I believe there are quite a few teams that have build nice farm systems while being competitive at the Major League level at the same time. Sucking at the major league level is not a requirement to build a farm.

      • Frank

        You may be right–it may not be a “requirement.” I even tend to agree that being this bad is not necessary. But again, this is the path that was chosen and the front office has been pretty upfront about it from the start. Yes, there has been the “multiple fronts” talk, but what the front office defines as building on multiple fronts may not be how many of us would define it. Building on the “free agent front” for example, seems to mean using free agents as stop gaps until the farm provides a core and then sign better free agents to fill gaps when the team is competitive–not as a way to make the team competitive. While many of us may not agree with the plan, it is still one way to build a team, and obviously, it’s the way this front office has decided to do it.

        • Kyle

          I read this post in Perd Hapley’s voice.

          • TWC

            I’m not here to declare a winner, but Frank is a winner.

      • BWA

        No and in the future it won’t be, but when you are given a bad team and a bad farm you have to use your major league pieces to acquire prospects if building the farm is your goal. You can’t just build a great farm out of the draft cuz every team gets draft picks too. Theres no point spending money on any of the available outfielders or third basemen because nobody out there is a good long term solution.

        Now saying that, I think they should sign either McCarthy/Marcum/or Sanchez so that our pitching rotation has a solid core that we can add to next year. Our Rotation going into 2014 could be Shark+McCarthy/Sanchez+Vizcaino+Good free agent signing next year+whoever Garza brings back in a trade. That has some potential and wouldn’t be too hard to fill the rotation only needing one more free agent.

        • Kyle

          1) It wasn’t a bad farm.

          2) Of course you can build a farm system out of just the draft (and IFAs). There is still a significant difference to be made by being the smartest team in the draft rooms.

    • Frank

      You’re right, Jason. A complete organizational teardown and rebuild takes time. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: many posters on this site were all for tearing everything down and rebuilding it “the right way”–and now that they see what that really looks like, they’re screaming about it. Some have argued that a complete teardown wasn’t necessary, which is fine, but a teardown is the path that was chosen and this is what that path looks like.

      • Kyle

        I was against the teardown before there was even a teardown to be against, when it was merely a gleam in Theo Epstein’s eye.

        • Frank

          Yes, you were. And if I recall correctly, you argued against many, many people on this site who said that the teardown was the right way to go about it.

          • gutshot5820

            Hey I have no clue what you are talking about. This team is not only tore down it’s obliterated. The time to rebuild was last year and this year. It doesn’t take three years to tear down a team and it certainly doesn’t take four years to start adding pieces either.

            Look at the Marlins, they tore down their team in one offseason. They will probably be better than the Cubs sooner too.

            • TWC

              Hey I have no clue what you are talking about …

              “… but I’ll respond anyway.”

              • gutshot5820

                This is about your typical snarky range of comments. I fully expect it now.

  • Cory

    I like this move Hell Jayson Werth light anyone? He’s never going to slug but in a full season at Wrigley 15 + dingers could be a possibility.

  • ottoCub

    Stop with the negativity! The Cubs are not purposefully “tanking” this season. It’s only December 5, and they’ve already made some very good signings and trades in 2012. The 2013 team is already better than last year’s opening day team in at least 4 positions:

    Catcher: better than last year (Castillo may be better than Soto, and Navarro is a better backup than Clevenger)
    1B: better than last year
    2B: same as last year
    3B: same as last year
    SS: same as last year (tempted to write better than last year because Castro is always improving)
    LF: same as last year
    CF: better than last year (DeJesus is a big improvement over Byrd)
    RF: same as last year (Schierholtz seems about on par with DeJesus offensively and defensively)

    Starting Pitching: unknown until Garza’s recovery is determined
    Bullpen: much better than last year

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Most polarizing $2.25 million signing ever.

    • Spencer

      This will be a fun thread for both sides to reread in July.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Haha. Yes. Early bet? Both sides will be able to say they were right (because the Cubs will be bad, Schierholtz will have been fine, but not a game-changer, and he might net a back-end top 30 prospect from some system, or will be meriting consideration for being brought back in 2014).

      • TonyP

        Ha

    • Jimmy james

      I was going to post something along those lines lol….

  • fastball

    I really do not think Ricketts is giving Theo any money to spend. Why on earth would they sign this clown? He isn’t any good. If your saying he is a starting RF then we got problems bigger than this. This signing is pretty embarrassing if he is going to be a starter. If you said he was going to be a bench player I would say ok. We could have done better but he can play once a week. Maybe that’s all he is going to be. Did Jed tell someone he was going to start in RF. I am expecting this FO to sign a real outfielder this off season. God if they trade Soriano our outfield will be worse than what we have at A ball.

    • MichCubFan

      You’re expectations are too high for this off-season.

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  • Adam

    Y’all who think this team was gonna compete this year are delusional. This franchise was entirely devoid of talent after 2011 and saddled with some of the absolute worst contracts in baseball. Any pitching talent in the minors is minimal, and it will take time for that to develop. The good news is, where we seem to be heading offensively with young hitters is exciting. Castro, Rizzo, Almora, Baez and Soler can be big time pieces.

  • Dale’s Ear

    I believe that these negative reactions are stemming from some “Winter Meetings Frustration”. A lot of us have spent the last three days refreshing all of these websites looking for some glimmer of hope for this team’s long term future that isn’t sitting in the low minors. I am one of the biggest “Thed” supporters I know, they are clearly very intelligent baseball minds who really know what kind of players they want, but even I found myself a bit flustered with this signing seemingly being our main catch of the meetings. It’s understandable to be frustrated but I am reminding myself that it is still very early in the offseason. This signing is not sexy but it is solid based on his defense alone. However, I do believe for the ticket/food/merchandise prices we pay that we do deserve some sort of “splash”, and I don’t just say that because I think we should make a move to make a move. I think we should make a move because this could be the last viable time to do it in the next couple of years with the advantages that come with a top 10 pick(like Brett has brought up previously). Not to mention, at least for next season, the free agent crop isn’t very exciting outside of Robby Cano who isn’t going anywhere.

    Honestly my biggest dream was that they would blow Hamilton out of the water with a 4 or 5 year deal at a high salary and at least let us watch an amazing BP show for the 120 games a year he’ll be healthy/sober. However since that is obviously not in the plans for good reasons I hope that we can get someone in the Edwin Jackson realm. Not the sexiest signing but definitely a good pitcher who can be an asset to the club beyond 2013. While I am ready to be patient with this offseason, if it is full of signings like this one I will be disappointed. Mostly because they keep saying that they are trying to put a competitive team on the field. If they aren’t going to they should just say they aren’t going to so we know not to pay attention to all the rumors they are linked to, and then we wont get frustrated when they don’t sign those big names.

    But I digress, I remember when Theo traded us Nomar for Doug MEdkjfkjds and Orlando Cabrera and ended up winning a world series, so I mean wtf do I know?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for those thoughts – and your awesome name.

      • Dale’s Ear

        First time poster long time reader. Keep up the good work man.

    • MaxM1908

      The Red Sox also got two compensatory draft picks when Cabrera left for free agency after the Series. Who did Theo and Co. draft with those picks? Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie.

      • TonyP

        So you have the list of all of the compensatory picks made by Theo?

  • Pat

    This is turning into the most singularly uninteresting team in history. Maybe next offseason, I guess.

  • fastball

    Hey Dumpster Tom says we can take you back but you have to sign a 10 year $10M contract. Ya that’s right $1M a year and you can be assigned any job he wants to give you.
    If we were to compete for a playoff birth in 2014 they will have to sign at least 10 way above average free agents next off season. This organization cant produce enough players to contend by then. We have zero pitching under contract going into 2014 and 2015. Where are these players going to come from? Not this organization. Our kids are too far off. I think Theo can develop these kids but it ain’t happening before 2016.

    • mudge

      SDumpster Tom. I like that.

  • Dustin

    Does anyone know who the free agents are next year for 3B? I know someone in the minors could be moved up or we could trade for one but I’m just curious.

    • Martin

      Wilson Betemit (32)
      Alberto Callaspo (31)
      Eric Chavez (36)
      Mike Fontenot (34)
      Jerry Hairston Jr. (38)
      Martin Prado (30)
      Juan Uribe (34)
      Michael Young (37)
      Kevin Youkilis (35)

  • Cubs8ball

    Not a bad signing for the Cubs 2013 goals. Keep in mind haters, Jim Hendry ball is gone. We are building a foundation for sustained success… No over priced Soriano signings. Patience. Money all.

    • Cubs8ball

      *Moneyball

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    I like to see the Cubs roll the dice with Juan Oviendo (known as Leo Nunez) the Marlins arnt going to sign him…dude can flat out pitch his ass off!

  • TonyE

    Hey Brett,

    Can you pull some blogs from the malholm signing last year to see how negative some people were?

  • Martin

    Here’s a fun topic to debate:

    Agree or disagree: Since the close of the 2012 season, the Florida Marlins have done more to improve their team long-term than have the Cubs.

    Discuss.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Well, they’ve done more to ensure that Loria will be forced to sell by MLB, and that would be just about the biggest improvement they can make. I’d have to agree.

      • Martin

        Never going to happen. He’s way too close to selig.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          And Selig’s contract expires after 2014 (I think). Dude’s old. He’s got to retire one of these days.

          I think.

          Probably.

          Wonder if his real name is Woodrow Wilson Smith…

      • Whiteflag

        Doubt it will happen as well, unfortunately. He’s bad for baseball and the city of Miami deserves better. If he wasn’t buddies with Selig, he’d be gone. He’s about as dirty as it gets.

        • Martin

          Given their unwillingness to go to games, I’m not sure Miami does deserve better, actually…

  • fastball

    I think Theo and Jed are staying at the Motel 6 a few miles from Opry Land. That’s where these players we are signing were able to get rooms. They must be holding a job fair and doing speed interviewing.

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