cubaAw, hamburgers.

Cuban free agent Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is set to sign with a Major League team this week according to reports, but if Patrick Mooney’s source is right, it won’t be with the Cubs.

Mooney reports that an industry source believes Gonzalez is going to wind up with another team, and the Red Sox are explicitly mentioned as one of the frontrunners. Although the Cubs have remained involved and have scouted Gonzalez heavily, the “overall feeling” is that Gonzalez is going to wind up “out of [the Cubs’] price range.”

I would have no problem with the front office deciding, given the way they’d like to allocate what resources they have, that Gonzalez’s price tag is more than he’s worth. Hopefully that’s all that’s meant by “out of their price range.” That is to say, I would certainly hope that, after three years of declining payroll and theoretically huge open chunks of payroll space coming in the near future (to say nothing of the expanded revenue streams that are expected soon with the renovation and TV deal), that a $50 million or whatever signing wouldn’t be too much money for the Cubs to handle.

Gonzalez makes a great deal of sense for the Red Sox. Not only are they always a major player financially in the international market, but they could really use a pitcher right now. Moreover, they could use a starter or a reliever, and there are questions about whether Gonzalez will be able to start in the near or long-term. Thus, for the Red Sox perhaps more than any other team, Gonzalez is a guy they know they’ll be able to use immediately (assuming he’s big league ready, at least in the bullpen). That might not be a huge portion of why he signs where he signs, but if some of the other teams in the mix – like the Cubs – don’t want or need him this season, he might be inclined to sign with a contender (and he might get a little more money from a contender).

We’ll see what happens this week, if Gonzalez signs. Because of the opaque nature of signing Cuban players, whatever Gonzalez’s price tag ends up being, we’ll probably never know if the Cubs were unreasonably cheap or prudently cautious. If they didn’t think the guy was worth $X million, then not signing him is just fine with me. If they couldn’t sign him, despite wanting him, because $X million was simply too much money, then I’ll be very disappointed.

But, as I said, we’ll probably never know which way that wind blew – assuming he signs with another team, that is.

After Gonzalez signs, we’ll see what happens with fellow Cuban pitcher Dalier Hinojosa, who should sign soon thereafter, and in whom the Cubs have also had interest.

  • Jon

    Didn’t want Miguel-Alfredo-Conception anyways.

    • Brett

      Yeah! Every player from Cuba is exactly the same!

      • hansman1982

        Only when we can compare him to a Cuban bust!

      • ETS

        You’d think the dozen other times that “every cuban player is the same” has been mentioned people would figure this out.

        Also, Concepcion isn’t a bust (yet) and it’s possible there were other business reasons for signing him (IE we are more attractive to other cubans).


        • Jon

          If Concepcion was the necessary evil that got us Soler, that’s cool. That said, it’s pretty much looking like he( Concepcion) is indeed a bust.

      • Kyle

        Not every Cuban player, but when the Cubs are lining up for a Cuban pitcher with uninspiring Cuban-league stats, you can’t blame people for making the parallel.

    • Beer Baron

      I’m sure Miguel Alfredo didn’t want to get pregnant either. That is really tough when you’re a recent immigrant, and a professional athlete, and a man…

  • willis

    Seems familiar…

    Hopefully it’s that they aren’t impressed by him to the point they want to use that kind of money like you said. Not spending it just to be playing cheap would quite disappointing, especially for a team that could use starting pitching.

  • deej34

    Could this be money saved to go after Garza? Or do you see those are two separate things? I know it is unlikely, but I would love to see Garza back next year.

    • willis

      Not at all. The Cubs, as currently being run, won’t come near Garza’s market value next year and won’t even be in the derby for him. They don’t spend money like that anymore and especially won’t go after Garza.

      This really is something everyone should stop thinking/hoping. It ain’t happening.

      • Noah

        Despite the fact that I don’t think the Cubs are really going to make a run after Garza, that has less to do with what Garza will command on the market and a lot more to do with what the Cubs would be looking for in adding a pitcher. If the Cubs are going to add a bit money pitcher my bet is that it would be for a legitimate number 1 starter as opposed to someone who is more a 2/3 like Garza. The Cubs made a heavy run on Anibel Sanchez, a similar 2/3 type of pitcher, and only got outbid when Sanchez made it clear that if the Tigers matched or beat the final offer from the Cubs, Sanchez was staying in Detroit.

        But the Cubs have Samardzija, who has become a legitimate 1/2 type, along with Jackson, who is a solid 3 in my book aside from the ERA struggles. Then the Cubs have a whole host of decent 4/5 options, including Wood, Villanueva and Grimm. Add to that the upside plays in Scott Baker, who could be a 3 when he returns to form, and Jake Arrieta, who has as much talent as Samardzija has but hasn’t been able to control or command the stuff, and the Cubs just have a lot of guys to fill those 2-5 roles. If they’re going to spend the money, they should trade for a legit 1 and then extend him.

        • wvcubsfan

          I keep seeing people refer to Samardzija as a legit 1/2; where in the world is this coming from? At some point in the future if he can ever become consistent then maybe this might be the case, but the only thing he’s proved as of now is he’s equal to or a step behind Garza.

          • Rebuilding

            I agree. He has 1/2 stuff when he’s on, but he just isnt consistent enough to say he’s a 1/2 right now

          • cub2014

            I think Shark is a legit #3 with #1 stuff. But he is
            still a #3 at this point in his career.

          • Noah

            Samardzija peripherals for 2013:
            9.18 K/9
            3.22 BB/9
            .303 BABIP
            47.9% GB rate
            72.9% LOB
            3.66 FIP
            3.36 xFIP

            Garza peripherals for 2013:
            7.86 K/9
            2.54 BB/9
            .266 BABIP
            39.8% GB rate
            80% LOB
            3.78 FIP
            3.85 xFIP

            Shark has a fairly significant lead in K/9, Garza has a smaller, but not insignificant lead in BB/9. However, Shark induces a lot more ground balls. The big reason why Garza’s ERA is below his FIP and xFIP and Shark’s is above it is BABIP and left on base rate, both of which are poor future predictors of success.

            FIP says Samardzija is a slightly better starter than Garza, xFIP says he is a significantly better starter than Garza. I’d say that neither FIP or xFIP are necessarily perfect indicators for Shark, but that he’s likely somewhere in between the two. Samardzija induces more ground balls than the average pitcher, which xFIP takes into account but FIP does not. However, Garza’s HR/FB rate is higher than the average of 10% as well, and that’s true over what is now 300 innings as a starting pitcher. While FIP considers that home run rate, xFIP doesn’t.

            • wvcubsfan

              You typed all of that and he’s still not a #1.

              • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

                ^^^ Funny as hell

              • Nate

                What makes someone a one? I mean in theory the top 30 pitchers are number ones but how do you determine that? ERA, WAR, wins you gotta add up a bunch of stuff. Neither are really 1’s in this respect but for the cubs its a toss up. Right now Wood looks like the clear 1 for the staff and actually is in the top 30 in baseball in most categories but is he really a 1? If I’ve got three 2’s I’m feeling pretty good. Some teams get a bunch of ones (you could have argued Lee, Holiday, Oswalt and Hamels for the Phillies). None of it matters. We need good pitching 1-5

          • ETS

            He has the best sinker in baseball, by far. Too busy to google it but fangraphs have done a pretty convincing study that concluded as much.

            It’s pretty conceivable to think that someone with an ultra high quality out pitch has a ceiling as an ace.

          • Funn Dave

            What cracks me up is that it’s usually the same people calling Garza a 2/3 or a 3/4 that are calling Jeff a 1/2. They both have consistency issues, but if you had to judge them based on how they’ve pitched (when healthy) over the last two years, Garza is the better pitcher.

            • Hookers or Cake

              I think Baker has been better than both (when healthy)

      • Rebuilding

        There was a long segment on the Score yesterday about how the Cubs couldn’t wait to get Garza out of the clubhouse and said it was the same way in Minnesota and Tampa. That other players find him annoying and a goofball. They played some clips from Brenly saying the same thing. Is it true? Who knows, this was on Boers and Bernstein and they should know annoying behavior

        • Chris

          Spent a lot of hours around Matt at Mesa this spring and a good guy–just very awkward socially–in-appropriate at times.

        • YourResidentJag

          Yeah, I’d be wary of the source here.

          • Rebuilding

            Oh I know all about Boers and Bernstein

            • YourResidentJag

              You can hardly wait to listen to them too I take it. 😉

    • MichiganGoat

      Garza will not be back next year, I know its the dream of many but it just will not happen.

      • SirCub

        I’m not so sure. I know it’s improbable, but I don’t think it’s impossible. I mean, Dempster left on much worse terms, and there were some rumblings of him resigning in the offseason.

        I wouldn’t say that the cubs have a better chance of signing Garza than any other team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the cubs were at least in on the discussions.

        • cubchymyst

          I think the front office continues to put together a rotation similar to this past year by bringing in 1 or 2 guys on short contracts. You got Samardzija, Wood, and Jackson as a sure 3, after them there is Villanueva, Cabrera, Rusin, and Arrieta all on the team next year who could compete for a spot and if the Cubs bring in a free agent on a short contract you’ve got a 5 man rotation with 3-4 alternates.

          • willis

            Shark is not a 1. He’s a good two/great three. His ceiling may allow for a little improvement but calling him a 1 or ace is a stretch.

            • cubchymyst

              When did I say Shark was 1 or an ace? Also there are only a handful of those types of players in all of baseball and most teams don’t have a true ace. People are getting obsessive with this pitcher rankings as 1 or 2 or 3 or 4/5 when they have a hard time defining what each ranking. Shark gives you a chance to win most of the games he pitches, that is all you can ask for a pitcher.

              • papabear

                I am confused on this number one pitching thing –

                If my team has the 2 best pitchers in baseball do i have 2 number one pitchers even though one of them is our number 2.

                I always thought that the Cubs number one pitcher is their best pitcher.

                If you figure in all of baseball you have to name 30 pitchers better than Samardzja to make him a number 2. Then 60 to make him a number 3. and so on

                Then there is the lock down pitcher that almost always wins. Not very many of those(Maddux, Sutcliff , Cy- young candidate types) – It all confuses me.

                Now when you say one you have to figure out which one of the three your talking about. Problem is number one pitcher is not defined but everyone has one of the above in there mind what a number one is.


                • JeffR

                  It’s really never made that much sense to me either. When someone says “he’s a solid number 3 starter” does that mean on a team capable of winning a world series or on a team that might have the number one overall pick next year. That’s a huge difference in my opinion.

  • Chad

    Willis, you have no idea why the cubs do what they do, and they could be just waiting for the right situation. Had they paid big money for Prince 2 years ago I would have said way to waste $ on his prime when we were going to suck anyway.

    I have a feeling there is more concern about him being a starter. I would hate to see the cubs spend $10mil/year on a pretty good reliever over 5 years.

    • willis

      Where did I say I know why they do what they do? I said I hope it’s because they aren’t all that impressed by him and not because they are playing cheap. I also stated later regarding Garza that the cubs aren’t being run like they used to be and that there is no way in hell they throw big money like Garza wants at Garza. That’s just a fact. They are being run much tighter than in recent history and their payroll is declining every year. I never said I knew why…although the savior has said on occasion they exhausted the money they had to spend this year.

  • When the Music’s Over

    I am very intrigued by where the Cubs available resources (not trying to get into a discussion about debt payments, team financing, etc.) get allocated. Let’s just assumed to be simple that the MLB payroll has the capacity to hover around $120M for the next few years. At that amount, the Cubs are going to have a lot of money to burn through in 2014 and an immense amount in 2015 (even if Shark gets big money).

    • Cubbie in NC

      I think in 15 we will see what their goal is. I can understand not wanting to sign someone for 6 years, waste their two best years, and get their two worst years when the Cubs are competitive. But once they are more competitive I would hope that they would be willing to spend at that point to fill holes with not just guys they can flip or just had surgery. Time will tell

  • Scott

    I think the Garza ship has sailed, rarely have guys been traded and gone back to sign with that team. This money could go towards Josh Johnson. I think he could be a steal on a 2 years + option deal this off-season.

    • Noah

      I wouldn’t go more than 1 year on Josh Johnson right now. I might be willing to give him $10 million or so for one year, but he’s in something of a make good situation to show he can be healthy and effective over a full season. Honestly, if I’m Johnson I also might prefer a 1 year deal if I legitimately think I can be healthy over the whole season. Johnson will only be 31 at the start of the 2015 season, so he could turn a strong 2014 into a pretty big money 4 to 5 year deal starting in 2015.

      • Tobias

        JJ’s injury history the last few years make me nervous. Of course, Cubs could view him similar to Feldman, hope he has a lights out first half, then flip him for a couple pieces.

        • willis

          And they seem to love injured pitchers :)

    • When the Music’s Over

      I wonder if he will carry Type A or B status. Cubs seem loathe at this point to dumb draft picks, though if any year is the year, this coming year is a good year to sign a type A, as the first rounder will be protected.

    • Spencer

      You mean John Johnson of a 5.66 ERA, 75 ERA+, and 4.26 FIP?

      • Scott

        I prefer the Josh Johnson with the 9.09 K/9, 3.6 xFIP, .338 BABIP and 1.4 GB/FB Rate.

  • Cubswin

    It seems pretty straightforward. Cubs didn’t want to overpay for a generally untested guy, especially knowing contenders are probably driving up the price. $50-60 million can get you more than “hopefully this guy can have success at the major league level.” I would have liked him for the right price, but doesn’t seem that will happen

    • Spencer

      A lot of these recent generally untested guys who have commanded large bonuses of money to sign have turned out to be pretty good. I hope for the sake of his career MAG turns out to be a good pitcher, but that’ll once again leave the Cubs on the outside looking in at what could’ve been. At least we got Soler.

  • Believe in 2015

    Will Olt make his Triple AAA debut tonight? And when will we hear the PTBNL announced for the Cubs?

  • cub2014

    Speaking of Cuban busts, where is Gerardo Concepcion
    this year?

  • baseballet

    The Cubs certainly need young starting pitching. I hope this was a scouting decision and not parsimony. We know from Theo that they spent every cent they were allowed to spend on payroll this year so tight payroll budgets would seem to be a problem.

  • ssckelley

    Hopefully the Cubs finished in 2nd again for Gonzalez, I think after so many they get a plaque.

  • Oswego Chris

    Nothing that I read seemed to indicate MAG( nice acronym for Gonzalez) was going to be an ace or even close at the MLB level…a gamble, an expensive gamble

  • preacherman86

    Maybe they like the other guy more?

    • Brett

      Hinojosa? It’s possible, though he’s generally regarded as a lesser piece. I should mention him up there, though. Thanks.

  • Josh t

    After the renovations are complete and new TV contact the Cubs better have a near a $200+ mil payroll or at least have the ability to get any FA they want. I’m sorry but a $125mil payroll won’t cut it. I’m not saying we need to buy every player but if ricketts isn’t willing to spend on a FA bc they aren’t within the cubs financial means after the renovation and new TV deal I’d be highly irritated. I want emphasize we don’t need to be the dodgers or Yankees and careless spend on players. But if ricketts didn’t allow for a $200mil budget it be very telling. I’m fairly confident he’d be will too spend when we are in a position to contend but not sure if its big time spending like dodgers, Yankees, phillies, Red Sox spending

    • willis

      Prepare to be irritated.

      • Josh t

        I just don’t think ricketts will have an excuse after the renovations are complete and tv contract is done not to have top 3 payroll in baseball.

        • hansman1982

          I’m glad that we are already irritated by something that is 7 years away. The hate for the Ricketts flows strong from you.

          • willis

            Yeah, I’m not their biggest fan. But, that wasn’t a jab at them. I was just saying I do not see their payroll approaching $200 millie like Josh was suggesting was where his irritation/lack there of would be based on.

            • willis

              Anytime soon, as in the next few years I should add. 7 years down the road, hell $200 mil may be looked at as Royal-esque.

              • hansman1982

                I don’t really care where the payroll figure sits, so long as we are competitive. If that means a top-3 payroll, whatever. If they can do it on a bottom-3 payroll, good for them.

          • Josh t

            Not irritated and payroll won’t matter one bit if our top prospects pan out butler realistically won’t. Ricketts has shown significant commitment to the farm system and to building infustructure such as spring training, Dominican facilities, etc… But no what you say the payroll has been cut which is completely understandable bc of our contending position. We’re building it the right way from the ground up but what happens when we got these prospects up and need to add significant pieces through FA? Is Ricketts willing to dish out that potential $200mil contract? (Giancarlo Stanton, cough cough) I’m not saying we need to be the dodgers and buy everything that moves but add those big time FA’s when they are needed?

            • hansman1982

              “Is Ricketts willing to dish out that potential $200mil contract?”

              The more correct question, I think, is:

              Is Theo willing to dish out that potential $200M contract? It’s very odd that payroll nose-dived the year Theo came and we haven’t heard one credible peep that he got hoodwinked by Tom.

          • Josh t

            Definitely don’t hate ricketts. He’s been a great owner. I just wonder what his plans are for the payroll for the future. Not accusing him of bring cheap at all. He has taken his resources and reallocated them, but I’m just curious to how he will manage his resources once the cubs hit the jackpot when the renovations are complete and the new tv contract is implemented. The cubs will experience a massive surge in resources available to them. And the I just wondering if he’ll pocket most of that revenue and reallocate it to the team like he told the fans and the city he would. Once again I want to emphasize he’s been a great owner and I’m not trying to hate on him

  • TonyP

    Has anyone seen a payback period projection for the renovation?

  • Hawkeye

    I guess I’m fine not signing him IF the $ goes to another starting pitcher. The list of 2014 free agents is pretty uninspiring and assuming we move Soriano our 2014 payroll is very low as it sits. This should not be an issue of funds not being available but one that we choose not to gamble on him.

  • jptopdog

    Just some info on those interested in Josh Johnson. He played travel baseball for the Upper Deck Cougars travel baseball team in IL., so he has some connections/from near here (MN.). Don’t know if that would have any bearing on him signing here on a short term deal, but sure that it doesn’t hurt.