Alfonso Soriano is Thinking Things Over, and Theo Epstein Suggests Now Might Be Right Time for Trade

alfonso soriano hittingAlfonso Soriano received a day off yesterday, in part to clear his head and think about the next step for him. The 37-year-old outfielder has met with Cubs management, and is in the process of formally informing the club of the teams to which he would be willing to approve a trade. Having such a list would help the Cubs negotiate deals involving Soriano on a going-forward basis, although many believe a deal to the Yankees is inevitable.

President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein spoke to the media about the situation last night, and he was, as usual, strikingly candid.

“There was really no talk of a list,” Epstein said, per CSN. “We just kind of outlined the different options for Sori. He asked for two or three days to think things over. [He’ll] let us know where he’ll go – if anywhere –  and then at that point it’s up to us if we want to go forward with finalizing a deal …. We told him how much we respect him and appreciate everything he’s done here, and that sometimes there’s a natural time to move on to clear opportunities for younger players [and] get him into a pennant race.”

From there, Epstein went on to reiterate that he’d told Soriano that this might be the right time to move on, particularly in light of Junior Lake’s emergence and other players soon returning to the outfield, including Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic. You can read more of Epstein’s and Soriano’s thoughts in CSN’s account, Bruce Levine’s accountCarrie Muskat’s account, as well as the Tribune’s account.

If I’m reading Epstein’s words correctly, and inferring no more than reasonable, it sounds like the organization has bluntly explained to Soriano that they’d like to start getting longer-term looks at younger guys, and that if he wants a chance to win in the next year and a half, he would be advised to accept a trade now. Although that may sound harsh, I tend to believe that the front office really is thinking of Soriano in the process, even if the organization’s needs are the priority. This may well be Soriano’s last chance at a playoff run, and all sides would probably like to see him get that chance, if the Cubs can send him somewhere he is comfortable. Even Soriano suggested he would like another playoff shot, and it doesn’t look like that will happen with the Cubs.

It feels like – based on nothing more than how this situation has developed, and the rumors that have emerged – Soriano will be headed to the Yankees soon. It’s possible that the market for Soriano is not as robust as we might like, and it’s also possible that Soriano is willing to go to fewer teams than we might like. In that situation, and assuming the Cubs do believe they have an organizational interest in moving on and seeing other players this and next year, the return in a Soriano deal might not be all that exciting. I do think the Cubs should hold the Yankees’ financial feet to the fire on this one if the luxury tax benefit is legit, but I would understand if the Cubs get little more than a little bit of a salary relief and a decent relief prospect. That would make me wonder, however, what the plan is for 2014, given that Soriano remains relatively productive, and a great veteran presence in the clubhouse.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, as there isn’t even yet a deal to report and dissect. For now, all we know is that discussions are ongoing with the Yankees and perhaps other teams, and the Cubs seem to be nudging Soriano in the direction of a trade (for their own benefit, and for his).

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

229 responses to “Alfonso Soriano is Thinking Things Over, and Theo Epstein Suggests Now Might Be Right Time for Trade”

  1. Mrcub1958

    Insightful summary Brett. I continue to be impressed with the FO.

  2. cubchymyst

    A couple of the Yankees international spending pools along with a prospect could work out well.

    1. steve123

      I honestly don’t think the International spending is even important at this point. We have already went way over and are under restrictions next year. We might as well go all out and just pay the overage. We saved around 10 million already this year between Garza, Feldman, and Hairston.

      1. cubchymyst

        The front office hasn’t signed anyone else yet, and are putting off signing Elroy Jiminez till after the trade deadline. I’m guessing they might be trying to avoid the penalties if possible.

        1. bbmoney

          They can’t trade for enough cap space to avoid the penalties if the reported signings are correct. Can only acquire, by rule, 50% more than your original allotment. Which, if I recall Brett’s earlier articles correctly, isn’t enough.

          Not to say the cash savings those slots represent are worthless, just won’t help avoid penalty.

          1. ssckelley

            This might be true but trading for slots can still save the Cubs a lot of money, which can be used on Soriano, and they can still lower the penalty for next season to be able to spend up to 500K on an international prospect.

          2. Jeff K

            I believe they could avoid the worst of the penalties if I recall correctly.

            1. CubsFaninMS

              From what I recall, as it stands, we won’t be able to spend over $250 K per player. If we acquire additional pool space, we can limit ourselves to just $500 K instead next year.

              1. Ivy Walls

                My cursory research says that the Yankees used $575K of an available 1.877,900 (leaving $1,322,100 left) therefore I think it is something that the Cubs are eyeballing and the Yankees lose it if it is not used.

                1. CubsFaninMS

                  I believe there’s a high chance that is part of the equation. The Yankees are feeling a squeeze right now. Underperforming MLB club, average to below average farm system, luxury tax considerations. The ideal situation on THEIR end is to give away some of the pool space so that a slightly lesser prospect is in the deal and have the Cubs take on the majority of Soriano’s remaining salary. I’m sure the front office will do the right thing.

            2. Jason P

              I had this conversation with someone on another thread. The only way they can avoid the stiffest penalty is if the Moreno signing was for 600k, not 800k. It’s being reported both ways.

          3. cubchymyst

            If the reported signings are correct is the key statement there. Until they do start going over the limit there might be enough wiggle room in there to avoid the stiffest penalties.

      2. John Blades

        If I understand correctly, there are two types of penalties for going over the international spending limit with a 5% overage limit.(1) Team must pay double on every dollar over the allowed amount up to let’s say $5 million? not sure of the exact amount, you can only pay players, next year, max of $500,000. 2) If you go over that $5 million??, you not only pay double you can only sign a player for up to $250,000.

  3. Spencer

    Honestly, I’m going to miss Alfonso a lot. I think his production and intangibles he brings to the team are really valuable to the Cubs not only on the field, but to have in the locker room. The thing that worries me about all these veteran players being traded is what’s going to happen to the young guys when they don’t have many players that have been through the rigors of a long season and through the rigors of losing and bouncing back? Guys like Starlin, Rizzo, Shark – all they’ve known in their big league career is losing. At what point does that start to affect a player’s psyche, or does it ever? At least losing 100 games a season is a little bit better when you have some veteran leaders that have been through it and can help the young guys along in the process.

    But as far as Soriano goes, he’s given a lot to this organization, hasn’t always been treated well by the fans, and has still been a great teammate and positive role model. He’s at the point in his career where it’s time for him to move on from being stuck on a shit team and hopefully he can go somewhere and get a championship because he deserves it.

    1. macpete22

      There’s still DeJesus, Jackson, Villanueva, etc

    2. miggy80

      That’s a good question and we’re going to find out who are the natural leaders on this team. I think Shark has some winning experience with ND for what that’s worth.

      1. Jp3

        Except in big games right?😀 Wasn’t his fault, he had Brady Quinn throwing him the ball

        1. Spencer

          zing.

          1. DarthHater

            Might be more of a zing, if it weren’t false. Here’s Samardizja’s line from some big games:

            2005: 4 receptions and 1 TD v. Michigan

            6 receptions and 3 TDs v. Mich. State

            6 receptions and 1 TD v. USC

            8 receptions and 2 TDs v. Stanford

            6 receptions v. Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl

            2006: 4 receptions and 1 TD v. Michigan

            7 receptions and 2 TDs v. Mich. State

            7 receptions and 1 TD v. Stanford

            6 receptions and 1 TD v. USC

            8 receptions and 1 TD v. LSU in sugar bowl

            1. Spencer

              How’d those bowl games turn out? N.B.: I am making fun of Notre Dame, not Samardzija. He was a good receiver.

              1. DarthHater

                I don’t care what anybody says about ND. Just sticking up for shark. ;-)

                1. Jp3

                  Ha, I was def poking ND and Quinn. Just having a little fun at Charlie Weiss’ expense. Not Shark, dude couldn’t win the games by himself. It was an accurate ZING, Charlie Weiss says so😝

                  1. DarthHater

                    9366918624_23b44ab8c8_o.jpg

              2. King Jeff

                Funny, coming from a Purdue fan.

                1. willis

                  Thanks to ND, Jamarcus Russell was the #1 drat pick in 2007.

                  I like Shark, ND is a flawed and a fraud of a program. They are good, but bark out loud as if they are great then get squashed by teams that are actually great. They are the SEC’s dream matchup, as has been proven.

                2. Spencer

                  How many losses do you think before Kelly gets fired? Two? Three?

                  1. Jp3

                    At least 3, fair or not he went to the title game last year. With Golson’s eligibility in the air who knows what they’ll be like.

                  2. King Jeff

                    I don’t know, they let Weis keep coaching after his team lost 9 games. I think just reaching the NC game last year has bought Kelly a few mediocre years. Although I’m sure that there will be people calling for his job after the 1st loss this year.

                    1. Rebuilding

                      Ehhhhh…with that schedule they should be a lock for 7-8 wins every year with just an average coach. And Kelly, while a total d-bag, is much better than average. They get to start beating up the ACC and always have the military academies.

        2. miggy80

          ehh, I don’t know I don’t follow football. I guess I was commenting on the “winning tradition” of ND. Gee I hate football I shouldn’t of made that connection. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

          1. Jp3

            Whatever man, I smelled what you were stepping in and your right he won a bunch of games at ND😃. Just jabbing at some Brady Quinn lovers about a decade ago.

            1. miggy80

              Right on

        3. Oswego chris

          I did not like Brady Quinn….and you could see his bust coming from a mile away…

          1. waittilthisyear

            aj hawks saw quinn’s sister’s bust from a mile away…

            1. Jp3

              Nice…

        4. King Jeff

          I’d take Brady Quinn’s Jr. and Sr. seasons at QB anytime

    3. JM

      Just spitballing here, but they pull up their big boy pants and get to work. Veteran presence is a nice luxury, but lots of teams have learned what it takes to win, while on the field.

    4. Ryan

      I agree. I’ve never been one to really bash on Soriano unless it was deserved. Now that he’s taken the hop out and dropped his bat size he’s been extremely valuable to this team, plus he’s publicly said he wants to finish his contract in Chicago if possible. I wouldn’t be upset to see him still on the team after the deadline.

    5. Rebuilding

      I’ll miss Soriano, as well, especially those two week scorching hot streaks. I think the whole veteran leadership thing is overrated. Baseball, while a team game, is really all about individual battles more so than any other sport. And most of these guys have won at every level of baseball since they were 5 years old

  4. macpete22

    Saw that the Cubs were interested in David Adams. Maybe get him and a RP prospect. Adams is a 3B but, he can play 1st and 2B as well. Could be a good UT player off the bench

    1. Patrick G

      I don’t know I see all the Yankees games and Adams doesn’t look like anything worthwhile for Soriano. Can’t play defense and stick is weak

  5. Justin

    I hope it works out for both the team and Sori. But if Soriano truly wants to be in a pennant race why the Yankees? The Yanks are so old and crusty, and going nowhere this yr or next. If I am him and want to win there would be a lot of other teams I would prefer to go too. I know he has NY ties, but that team is a wreck in so many ways it’s ridiculous.. I hate to see him rot with those other turd contracts..

    1. Cyranojoe

      That’s what I’m worried about. If he’s serious about making the WS, the Yankees are *not* where he should be going….

  6. steve123

    I hope the Cubs go after a High reward type of prospect. I am thinking Manny Banuelos. He is coming off Tommy Johns, but has a huge upside. He has already been to Triple-A at 22 and would be a good Lefty fit.

    Yankees- Banuelos
    Cubs- Soriano (+ cash), Ransom

    1. Cub Fan in Hickory(Mike S)

      likes ^

    2. cerambam

      When in doubt, add Ransom

      1. miggy80

        I learned today that Ransom has the lowest fielding percentage on the team.

        1. hansman1982

          outside of Lake.

          1. miggy80

            Oh yeah, outside of Lake. I’m probably going to lose points for that.

    3. Patrick G

      I like him or Betances, although he’s 25 and struggled in the minors, he’s put together a solid season in 2013. At 6’8″ and throws hard, he could be an upside starter or good reliever. Betances size is the only thing that worries me but has the upside

      1. Patrick G

        Meant Banuelos size worries me, not betances

        1. ETS

          If we acquire one of the killer B’s and mike olt (and if this were 2 years ago) we have done something pretty amazing. (doing it this year wouldn’t be bad either ;) but all of them have had considerable slides in their stock value)

    4. Cyranojoe

      Promising idea….

  7. Voice of Reason

    There is no question that it is time to move on for Soriano and the Cubs.
    For him personally, he can have a last chance at going to the playoffs and the World Series.
    For the Cubs, the team continues to cleanse itself of Jim Hendry’s bad as it evolves into the future.
    I just don’t want to move Soriano for the sake of moving him. If we’re picking up 80 to 90% or more of the tab, then the Yankees need to give us some solid value in return. If not, keep Soriano and screw the Yankees. After all, it’s not like we have a left fielder waiting to come up in the minors!

    1. Tobias

      You move Soriano then Cubs can leave Lake there for the rest of the year.

  8. WNebCub

    I live in Nebraska and i can remember being on a chicago trip in 2009, a monday evening game against the Astros, Soriano hit a weak grounder to third base did not even make a move out of the box and was thrown out while standing in the batters box…he gave a half hearted attempt at arguing with the home plate ump that he fouled it off his foot and was laughed back to the dugout. Wrigley pretty much booed the hell out of him. He showed how sharp a guy he was by taking about 2 or 3 baseballs with him to the OF and got the bleachers back on his side by tossing a few to the fans. At that moment i never would have thought i could like him again.

    Fast forward to the new regime and the last two years: Soriano has seemed like a real leader for some of the younger guys. He took to coaching and became a better OF’r and seemed to become an all around team guy. I’m not sure how it could ever be quantified (maybe Carmine can do that) but with as much change as has happened around the organization and team Soriano’s ability to become a leader has been invaluable. Efforts like guys of Dempster, Garza, Soriano, Dejesus…vets who decide that playing the game the right way and being a good role model for an ever evolving franchise, that has to be respected and talked about.

    Epstein is such a legit dude, talking about telling Sori how much they appreciate and respect him. He means it and i’m sure Soriano totally appreciates it.

    1. JM

      Nicely stated. You might call him a renaissance man.

  9. David

    I will always wonder how more productive he would’ve been if he went to a shorter/ lighter bat when his production began to dip.

    1. Jay

      ABSOLUTELY correct. We could have avoided him starting to go in the tank back in 2009 if he’d not been so stubborn about changing bats. It’s no surprise that happened and then a renaissance season (of sorts) occurred last year. Drove me nuts.

  10. Jp3

    This was discussed AT LENGTH last night on this board. It feels like a bit of genital measuring though some people disagree. A few days ago Soriano was caught off guard and surprised by the rumors and threw out the obligatory I’ve talked to my agent and we are in control statement now Epstein retorts. Albeit respectful Theo says that he’ll (Soriano) decide where if any he wants to go THEN we’ll decide if we want to go through with finalizing the deal. He nudges him with the hey we’ve got young players we need to see play and I’m sure not to the media but to Sory he said something along the lines of these guys are going to play going forward and we’ll fit you in where you can. JMHO

  11. Cizzle

    As long as Fonzi doesn’t publicly state what teams are on his list (or the only team he’ll go to a-la Dumpster) I’ll be happy.

  12. Korean goat

    If soriano goes to the yankees, I will root for him and the one in this playoff

  13. Dustin S

    If there were any doubt that the FO is looking at 2014 at anything but another rebuilding year, trading Soriano removes that. He’s really overall (excluding the recent Lake-effect) been the Cubs best hitter this season. They wouldn’t trade him, pay probably $15M-$18M+ salary for a player they won’t have, for what looks to probably be a relatively small return, if 2014 were going to be more than rebuilding. I think Soriano even admitted that Theo told him they were aiming for 2015.

    There will still be plenty of Cubs goodness in 2014 I’m sure between at least some Wrigley renovations and the excitement of more young players so I’m not trying to be a downer. I’m just saying it’s probably healthy to start setting expectations for 2014 low, even if I really hate having to say that in July 2013. We’ll get there and it’s all on the right track though…

    1. Cyranojoe

      Next year will be a year of putting young guys like Lake into position to show what they can do over a full season — they’ll have the talent to make a run at the playoffs, but they’ll be young and unproven, by and large, so it may not happen, but that’s the way 2014 looks to be shaping up, to my eye. If we land Price or another major FA/trade, that might change the approach slightly, but not by much.

    2. cubfanincardinalland

      Schierholtz has been a much better hitter than Soriano this season. Nate has an OPS of .855 while slugging an impressive .521 for the season. Second best hitter has been Navarro, with an .873 OPS.
      One of the reasons the club is trying to move Soriano is it is obvious the wheels are starting to come off the wagon. His on base is an atrocious .287 for the year, with an OPS of .754, 70 points below his career average. At this point he is a platoon player against lefties, a role I doubt he would be happy with.

    3. Bilbo161

      I hear that. However I’m always expecting the Cubs to surprise us. Looks to me like we have a few more spots on the roster filled with Lake, Olt, Grimm, Strope, maybe Arrietta. Hell, I even think Vitters has a shot at the 25 man next year. I’m all for playing the kids until the cream comes to the top. Go Cubs!

    4. David

      I disagree. If we save $10 mildo on his contract in 2014, we can use that on a couple of free agents… Perhaps a couple of $5 million bullpen arms. Or the free agent Atl catcher- forgot his name. Which player scenario would you rather have??

    5. Kyle

      Soriano is 37 and on projection for a 1.8 fWAR season.

      Clearing him out of the way for 2014 helps as much as it hurts, to be honest. Where else are we going to upgrade the offense if not adding a corner outfielder?

      1. Rebuilding

        Just to put Soriano’s worth in perspective – his WAR is 0.7 and Junior Lake through 29 ABs is 0.6

        1. YourResidentJag

          Through 29 ABs of course.

          1. Rebuilding

            WAR is a cumulative stat. So unless Lake becomes below replacement level the rest of the year he won’t go backwards in WAR

            1. King Jeff

              I’m not super into WAR, but I think his rating can definitely lower as the year goes on. If he hits into double plays, makes errors, or gets thrown out stealing, I believe it affects his WAR negatively. Also, I think if his BA drops, his WAR is going to lower, because it’s based on a comparison to a replacement level player. At least that’s my understanding of it.

              1. Rebuilding

                @KingJeff – the way WAR works Lake has already *earned* his 0.6. If he is exactly replacement level the rest of the way (I think it’s 240/310/350 or something like that with exactly average defense) then his WAR will be 0.6 at the end of the year.

                1. DarthHater

                  That’s not quite right. If he plays sub-replacement-level the rest of the way, he could accumulate negative WAR and end up with a negative total. But you are correct that the total will always include credit for the 0.6 WAR he has accumulated so far.

            2. YourResidentJag

              But why the Lake comparison, though? You could argue that Lake is Sori’s replacement. You could also compare him to other players will larger sample sizes and free agents. Given that, as you say, WAR is a cumulative stat.

      2. jt

        “Where else are we going to upgrade the offense if not adding a corner outfielder?”
        –Kyle
        *
        2b

        1. Kyle

          Possible, but I like the idea of keeping Valbuena if you don’t like Barney there. LF is a much easier spot to fill than 2b.

          1. jt

            “but I like the idea of keeping Valbuena if you don’t like Barney there”
            –Kyle
            Works for me but then they need a 3b.
            I don’t completely buy Luke’s argument as to Olt but it is an argument that should be considered.
            Neither Lake nor Vitters seems to have a future at that corner.
            I haven’t given up on getting a Bellhorn type season or two from Watkins.

  14. Bilbo161

    Would love to see Sori win a title. Best of luck to him. As far as the return goes, international cap space would be a great pot sweetener. It is at least a direct $$$ saver. Even if we don’t get under the penalty limit we save on the 100% penalties. Might consider getting some cap space as sweetener in an few more trades as well.

    1. Falselife

      Assuming he is going to the Yankees, I don’t.

  15. Gregor

    Truthfully, he should have accepted his fate last year so he and the Cubs could move on. And if he balks again…I would bench him permanently.

    The future is starting to arrive in Chicago and he no longer is a part of the progression.

  16. mudge

    I’m eager to see what MIke Olt can do at 3B, and Valbuena moved to second. We’ll start winning a few more of the close games with another dangerous bat in the lineup.

  17. Teri

    I have mellowed on Soriano the past two years due to his improved efforts on and off the field. Never cared for the kind of player he was since he came to the Cubs. It is time for him to move on and I understand the Cubs will have to pay most of his salary, but they are to blame for signing him to this ridiculous contract. Just get something for him that is worth the 18 million.

  18. #23

    Seems like packaging Navarro and Ransom with Soriano to the Yankees would make sense considering the holes the Yankees need to fill.

  19. Ivy Walls

    Can someone drill into the heads of Cub fans that 2014 will still be a rebuilding year in that it will be the first year of the young talent coming up and seeing what is there.

    Got to think that at the very least

    Lake, Alcantara, Olt (if he is still here, though in all probability) will be starting by Memorial Day if not earlier. That means two of the OF positions will be going through transitions if they are not traded over the winter, (DeJesus and Schierholtz).

    All eyes will be focused on AA and AAA where Soler and Baez, with Bryant and Almora also coming along, but also pitchers who were acquired now and future, plus names like Vizcaino, Hendricks, Zastryzny among others filling in the bullpen and some starter roles. You have got to think the biggest decision will be whether to sign Samardzija to an extension or trade him. The loving angst here will be interesting.

    The biggest name will be Castro. Will Baez be a big trading piece for a pitcher and Cubs anchor themselves to the young phenom who once was or will they trade Castro to someone like the Yankees who will need a SS to replace their retired Jeter? Much depends on Baez and his shortcomings or continued development.

    I think Theo and Jed are going to break many affectionate hearts and trade off Hendry’s jewels that are blemished diamonds and go with their own guys, one who was adopted being Baez. His power is not replaceable and a return on Castro could be bigger. No brainer…look for 2015 to be interesting but 2016 to be the start of something special.

    1. cub2014

      I thought 2014 would be the year but now I see
      that Alcantera,Olt,Lake,Sweeney will be playing
      so unless they turn into stars we will stll have
      difficulty scoring. If they bring in a #1 like
      Price then they will be in the playoff chase next
      year

    2. Mr. B. Patient

      The Cubs could compete in 2014. There is a chance St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh could all go on a cruise and get shipwrecked.

    3. Kyle

      “Can someone drill into the heads of Cub fans that 2014 will still be a rebuilding year in that it will be the first year of the young talent coming up and seeing what is there.”

      Cubs fans who think this need to be drilled in the head.

      There is nothing stopping them from trying to put together a competitive team on short-term FAs and trades while we watch all those wonderful prospects at AA and AAA.

      1. Rebuilding

        As we’ve talked about, the time to be competitive in 2014 was 2 offseasons ago. Short of trading for Price and signing Cano there will just be too big of a talent gap with St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh next year. Not to mention between those 3 teams you can count at least 7 pitching prospects better than anything we have. I don’t see any way you can put together enough 1-2 year deals with the guys available this offseason to close that gap

        1. YourResidentJag

          I don’t either, especially when the MO of Theo is to accumulate young talent. So, the 1-2 year deal guys are there one could argue to win, but just as much as to further to the accumulation of young talent via the trade.

          1. Kyle

            They are there for both.

            You sign them, and if you win, great. If not, you flip them for prospects.

            It’s not solely for one or the other.

            1. YourResidentJag

              Yes, but if the overall talent of 1-2 yr FAs gets you a .500 team and the rest of the division is playing out of their minds talentwise–the ultimate goal is how do we get more young talent? So, when the current situation, it becomes the one perspective. Building up the 1-2 yr FAs value for a team further along in competitiveness as avenue to accumulate young talent. It also goes to Rebuilding’s point. There’s isn’t enough 1-2 yr deal the Cubs could make to make the team as competitive as the rest of the division.

              1. Kyle

                The ultimate goal is to win the World Series. Please, let’s stop saying that the ultimate goal is young talent.

                1. YourResidentJag

                  So, this isn’t the trend in MLB? Young talent gets you there boosted by a few impact FAs.

                  1. Kyle

                    It’s a common path, although certainly not the only one. But that still doesn’t mean we need to confuse means with ends.

              2. Kyle

                But to your general point, that’s very possible. But the Red and Pirates (and to a lesser degree, the Cardinals) are not going to start 2014 with 89 wins already on the books. Bad things can happen to them, and the Cubs need to give themselves a chance to be there if that happens.

                If they’re .500 but 10 out in July, then you can still dump again.

                1. YourResidentJag

                  With three teams, Kyle, that’s really tough to expect. Look if the Cubs were in the AL Central, I would totally support your philosophy. Divisional structure, particularly with respect to the playoff format, has really been pushed to the forefront in MLB, not that I’m a big fan of divisional play.

                  1. Kyle

                    With the current playoff structure, we only need to be better than one of them.

                    1. YourResidentJag

                      Still a lot to expect.

                    2. Kyle

                      No one’s expecting it. Only being ready for the possibility.

                    3. YourResidentJag

                      Still don’t like the possibility. Would rather wait at this point as @Rebuilding has said until 2015-2016 because Theo and Co have geared it towards those years.

        2. Kyle

          This is the same Theo Epstein that, when faced with the greatest spending juggernaut baseball has ever seen, initiated an arms race that MLB hadn’t seen since the draft was implemented and free agency instituted.

          He’s not going to cower away from trying just because the freaking Reds and Pirates have a lock-down on the wild cards.

          1. Rebuilding

            But you could have said the same thing in 2012 and 2013. Rightly or wrongly this FO has seemingly tied their future to our Big 5 prospects and I just don’t see them making any big moves until those guys are ready so 2015. In that offseason you could conceivably have Kershaw, Price and Scherzer as FAs. This offseason there is just nothing comparable

            1. Kyle

              They put together a pretty game effort for 2013. And our base of talent is much better now than it was going into that season.

              I’m not talking about “big moves.” I’m talking about aiming to put out a competitive team on the field.

              And it’s a fool’s game to try to drool over offseason classes multiple years away. Most of those guys will never see free agency.

              1. Rebuilding

                As you know, you and I are generally on the same side of this, but they have had an incredible season of hitting on these guys. Very few would have thought that Schierholtz, Feldman, Navarro, Wood and Valbuena would have provided what they have and we are still 11.5 games out of the 2nd WC with about 5 other teams in front of us. If they even find another Feldman next year I’ll be happy. This is the road they’ve taken and it points to 2015-16

                1. Kyle

                  We’re mostly on the same side with the assessment, we just come to very different conclusions. “2014 looks tough” doesn’t make me think we shouldn’t bother trying. Plus, the moves of the last month have improved the 2014 outlook a bit in my opinion.

                  They hit on some guys, but that should be the norm, not 2012 where they missed on so, so many. I don’t think our success rate in 2012 was unsustainable. We missed on Jackson (relative to his actual results, even though the peripherals are fine), we missed on Lillibridge, we missed on Fujikawa, we missed on Camp, we missed on Baker.

                  And despite all that, they’ve got the peripherals of a .500 team (and they’re on pace for 74 wins. This isn’t the 100-loss team people seem to think, even if you ignore the peripherals).

                  For next year, we’ve got right now something like (you could rearrange some of the roles, but this is just one possible arrangement):

                  Soriano/DeJesus/Schierholtz (Lake)
                  Olt/Castro/Barney/Rizzo (Valbuena, Watkins)
                  Castillo

                  Samardzija/Jackson/Wood/Arrieta/Hendricks
                  Russell/Cabrera/Grimm/Strop/Villanueva (Plus a few more interesting arms).

                  That’s really not a terrible baseline before you’ve even started. I don’t think that’s worse than this year’s team, which is on pace for 74 wins. And we’ve got a whole offseason and ~$30m to spend after arbitration raises.

                  I don’t expect us to be the best team in the division on paper. I don’t even expect us to be 3rd best. But I expect us, at this point, to be a .500 team on paper, and that’s worth taking a fighting shot with.

                  1. Rebuilding

                    All agreed. I don’t think we should in any way lie down and not try to compete next year. It’s just that I expect us to do what we did this year and sign reclamation guys to 1 or 2 year contracts and hope to hit on them. With the right breaks there is prob a not 0% chance we sneak into a wild card or are at least right there. Come the 2014-15 offseason I expect we will be all over any significant FA that is on the market where we have a hole

            2. Jed Jam Band

              They had to acquire those prospects in the first place. The system was not as deep or as talented when they first arrived. The fact is that those pitchers are not going to reach free agency. They just won’t. They’ll either be extended or traded. The new CBA is making major free agents pretty much a thing of the past. There will always be a few like Cano or Ellsbury this offseason, but most of the time, guys like Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez will be the market. The Cubs, in order to compete, will have to trade prospects at some point to get proven guys. We all acknowledge that, yes. But you can’t do that without prospects that the team on the other side covets. We have that now. So, yes, we might start going after some of those guys this offseason. I especially feel the Cubs will be in on Price and likely will look into Stanton if he’s on the block. So, yeah, the organization is tying our future to our best prospects. But don’t sleep on our depth either.

          2. Andrew

            Not to mention, hopefully this next offseason will be the last that we won’t lose a first round pick for signing FA, so this is the best year to get FA talent without sacrificing draft position. There are some good names out there that would fill spots on the team that are currently lacking. Cano, Ellsbury, McCann, Choo, Kuroda, Beltran…just to name a few. I don’t see how any of these guys will handcuff the future significantly, especially the arms that are out there.

            1. Jed Jam Band

              I don’t really like Cano for this team. I think the outfield should be our concentration.

              1. On The Farm

                Ellsbury for you then?

            2. YourResidentJag

              But of those names you’ve mentioned…Cano will be signing with the Yankees. It’s imperative for them to do that. Kuroda is a version of Dempster to me. McCann would be ok I suppose but has health issues and, for the position he plays, it’s a gamble. Choo’s gonna be expensive, and Beltran …well I’m surprised he’s held up as well as he has.

            3. Rebuilding

              But most of those guys are just unrealistic. Do you really think we are going to sign Cano to an 8 year/200 mil contract when Alcantara is prob ready next year or Baez might get shifted there? Or that we are going to sign Ellsbury to whatever silly contract he might be seeking? Does Carlos Beltran make any sense on this team? Choo is going to be looking for huge money, as well. No, we are going to be signing the Schierholtzs and Feldmans of the world until we know what we have

              1. YourResidentJag

                Yep, I agree. FAs of note and impact are going to be added to add wins to a core of players that you hope win in the high 80s. It will then be up to Theo and Jed to decide which impact players to trade or sign via FA to get the team additional wins to get over the 90-win and playoff contention. Most FAs signings of significance will be seen as a block to the younger player in that position. It’s not that I necessarily agree with this strategy, but it’s what Theo and Jed want for this organization.

      2. Diggs

        I agree that they can be competitive next year. Heck, they’ve been pretty good this year while suffering some bad luck. A couple key signings in the off-season (not huge ones like Cano, but solid ones akin to the Schierholtz signing last off-season) and I think they have a chance to be pretty decent. Not world-beaters, but decent.

        1. Jed Jam Band

          Pretty much exactly what I believe. You put it better than I ever could have. I salute you.

    4. YourResidentJag

      Yep, I see the same thing, without much in the way of adding through trades or FAs….well maybe FAs like Feldman.

    5. Hawkeye

      Thinking like this is so frustrating. First of all we very little “bad” money on the books in the 2014. The time to start attempting to accumulate pieces is now. This magic, crazy world where ALL these prospects turn out is just plain silly. Not going to happen like that. We need pieces in place to accompany whatever prospects do turnout.

      1. Jed Jam Band

        Look, we all agree with you. We’re just saying that free agency is, at best, an inefficient way of acquiring talent and at worst it is an abhorrent misuse of the free market. That being said, as we accumulate top prospects and prospects with value, we will have options via trade to add proven players to this team. Nobody is sitting on their hands here thinking, “Well, let’s just let them ALL develop.” We know that’s unrealistic, but their development is not just a point A to point B thing here. It’s more like point A to point B or point A to point C. We can turn prospects into major league players or let them develop into major league players and really, a combination of those approaches is what will get us to where we want to be.

        1. Kyle

          ^this guy failed to notice that the Cubs were one of the most free-agent active teams of the last offseason.

      2. willis

        Yeah well, don’t hold your breath. It’s an issue of continuing to groom the young guys and putting together a patch work team in the bigs until they are ready. Other than EJax, everything esle they have done is to stockpile young talent and put marginal pieces in place for the major league team. I agree with you that thinking all of these prospects will work out is ridiculous and dreaming. Some will, some won’t. They need to move on a couple pieces that are proven talent soon. Will they do it? Who knows. I love what’s going on in the minors, but soon enough they need to start accumulating pieces for the big squad to compliment what talent does evolve.

      3. CubsFaninMS

        If you’ll look at the Top 30 prospects in 2007, you’ll see that at least 40% of them have had good to outright superstar careers so far. Good on the list: Clayton Kershaw, Matt Garza, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Tim Lincecum, Justin Upton, Adam Jones, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce. Not-So-Good on the list: Mike Pelfrey, Reid Brignac, Chris Young, Brandon Wood……at #40 on the list? CHRIS VOLSTAD. (thought that was a bit humorous)

        There’s certainly a possibility that two of our top four become above average/superstar, one becomes decent Major Leaguer, and one totally flames out. Then we have all of the other budding prospects in our system and you’d think at LEAST two or three of them become solid to all-star Major Leaguers. That accompanied by a beefed up scouting department, it’s exciting to think about what we will see on the field in 2017.

        In 2007, look at the Devil Rays’ prospects… #3 Delmon Young…..#7 Evan Longoria….#17 Reid Brignac…..#35 Jeff Niemann.

        1. CubsFaninMS

          Another very interesting finding to note is how many “flyers” our new front office have taken on the Top 100 prospects list of 2007…

          Chris Volstad, Ian Stewart, Ryan Sweeney, Michael Bowden, Brent Lillibridge

        2. ssckelley

          Good stuff, thanks!

  20. David Price

    Anyone else David Price’s masterpiece last night? Can’t wait to see him in Cubbie Blue next season

    1. Mr. B. Patient

      What would you be willing to trade to get him? What would be willing to spend to extend him?

      1. Jed Jam Band

        Not so much the money, but the #of years. That would be my biggest concern.

    2. Edwin

      You just want to see him as a Cub because he has the same name as you.

  21. Edwin

    Brett,

    Has MLB made any decisions on whether or not they’ll allow Mike Olt to take his seeing eye dog to the batters box with him?

  22. Chris

    Carrie Muskrat is actually defending Soriano for his springtime failure. Stating he hit .270 in May so wha is wrong with that?> Did this woman see any of the games in April and May or just google eye him in the locker room. Give us fans a break!

  23. Ctoyo

    Shark + Jackson for Price? Shark has two years left of control , Tampa wont sign him long term , bring him back for when it all might began to click.

    1. Mr. B. Patient

      If you’re talking about B-Jax, Tampa would hang up in a minute. If you’re talking Edwin Jax, Tampa wont take on the contract.

    2. Jed Jam Band

      Any deal for Price is likely to start with Soler, Baez, or Almora. That’s how it goes.

      1. Kyle

        ABTY over at PSD had some interesting speculation today. He said that the Rays and Cubs have been having feeling-out conversations about different players in each organization as long as Epstein/Hoyer have been here, and that the one name that keeps coming up is Castro. He speculated that Castro/Price could be a hot offseason possibility.

        1. willis

          Depending on the contiued development of Alcantara and Baez…I’d probably do that. It’s risky, but hell a great starter is needed.

        2. TonyP

          Straight up Price for Castro?

          1. On The Farm

            That doesn’t seem likely. I feel like Tampa would ask for a few more guys in the deal.

          2. willis

            If they covet him, I think Castro +2 top 15s in the system (one arm) would get it done.

            1. TonyP

              I agree with a couple in the range of 7-15 maybe, I can’t see including any of the Big 4 (or Alcantara) with Castro though….

        3. ncsujuri

          I’d think the Rays would be more interested in Baez who would have more team control and be cheaper. I’m also thinking that perhaps some of the moves we have made are w/ an eye towards a bigger move? For example: Arrieta perhaps wasn’t available to the Rays because they are in the same division as the O’s, and they really like him for some reason.

          I’d do Price for Baez, Alcantara, Arrieta + 1

          Sign him long term, sign Shark long term and you’ve got a solid 1-2 going for quite awhile.

        4. Justin

          Very Interesting, Price for Castro hmmm.. They both have issues with gigantic upside. The biggest issues Price has is the huge amount it’s going to take to extend him and believing he can stay remotely healthy. $200 Million would most certainly be in the zip code. Obviously not many pitchers like him come around at the same time… As far as Castro goes, if the Rays are after him that makes me think that the Cubs should hang on to him at least another yr and see how things shake out with him. Actually, I think we should just deal with another team all together. The Rays are so much smarter than most teams, lets take our chances with a front office like the Dbacks..

      2. danimal8

        I believe any attempt for Price would start with at least 2 of the big 4 and at least 2 more prospects of note. The haul will be extreme.

        1. MBZ

          I think that trade still needs to be at least one offseason away. There’s no sense in nabbing Price before the 2014 season if he’s under team control through 2016. The cost would be that much steeper and we can all agree the odds of contending next year is a long-shot considering the youth of the Pirates, depth of the Cardinals, and promise of the Reds.

          1. On The Farm

            You can only acquire talent when it’s available. If the Rays want to trade Price this offseason and the Cubs want him for 2015+, they may have no choice, but to trade for him this offseason.

            1. willis

              Bingo. Well said.

    3. Rebuilding

      I’m maybe in the minority, but I would be extremely disappointed if we trade for Price. To me there are really only 3 teams that have both the prospects and the resources (to pay the extension) to acquire him – us, the Red Sox and the Dodgers. I do believe he will get traded, but unless its to the Red Sox or Dodgers I think he hits FA. If it to one of those two team then oh well – you lost out on a 30+ pitcher starting to have arm problems. I see no reason to give up the haul it would take to get him when it’s possible he’s available next offseason for nothing but $

      1. On The Farm

        Exactly people say its going to cost two of the big 4, that could concievably be two top 25 prospects and its just a starting point. To top it off Price has had issues with declining velocity. I am not saying we should sit on the big four and hope they pan out because I don’t think we should deal prospects. I say sit on our big 4 until a better deal comes around (not sure what that would be, but something about Price worries me).

        1. Rebuilding

          To expand on my previous point who realistically could sign Price to the money it would take to not hit FA? The Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs? The Yankees don’t have the prospects. Boston is in their division (although the Rays might still do it). The Dodgers would prob have to give up Lee, Pederson, Seager. I really do think he makes it to FA

          1. On The Farm

            Tampa would probably love to do it if it meant getting their hands on all of those pitching options Boston has, I would think the Sox would be the hesitent one in that deal. As for the Dodgers, I know their payroll is virtually limitless these days, but they will have plenty of money invested into their rotation after they sign Kershaw. The more I think of it, the more I agree with you about him hitting FA.

            1. bbmoney

              I can’t see the Rays letting that happen. Getting nothing for him but a comp pick?

              1. On The Farm

                I feel like what Tampa will be asking will be too expensive this offseason and by time they actually deal Price it will be a trade deadline deal and he decides to test the market to get paid.

              2. Rebuilding

                I think he will get traded, just don’t think he will sign an extension unless its to the Red Sox or possibly Dodgers

      2. ssckelley

        But if the starting point in a deal involves Castro then I would have to listen. Not because I do not like Castro but he plays a position that is an organizational strength. If it was me I would have a hard time justifying giving up any of the big 4 unless I was assured a contract extension could be negotiated.

        The recent arm troubles do not scare me much.

  24. David

    Castro, Volgenbach and Hendricks for Price.

    1. Rebuilding

      Doesn’t get there in my opinion. Castro, Soler/Almora, Vogelbach and Johnson maybe

      1. X the Cubs Fan

        Castros worth more than Price by himself IMO.

        1. Rebuilding

          Well, for 1 year + option of James Shields the Rays got a Top 5 prospect in baseball (Myers), a Top 20 SP prospect (Odorizzi), a Top 30 SP prospect (Montgomery) and another high upside arm (Leonard). And Price will bring back more

          1. X the Cubs Fan

            I’d be much more inclined to trade Baez (a top 15 prospect in baseball), Vogelbach, Johnson (both fringe top 100 prospects), Duane Underwood and Dillon Maples (High-Upside arms).

          2. ssckelley

            True, but in Castro you are talking about a young established MLB player at a premium position. You would have to add some pieces with Castro but I doubt you have to give up a load of prospects with him.

            1. Rebuilding

              Yes, let me caveat by saying I like Castro, but you are also talking about a guy who has regressed tremendously at the plate, has no idea of the strike zone, has been benched for his concentration in the field and has question marks as to whether he will ever have the consistency to play the position at an above average level.

              1. ssckelley

                I get that, and the Cubs would be selling low on Castro but I also think you are buying low on Price as well. IMO, if the Cubs put Castro out on the open market they would get a decent haul of prospects for him. Teams want young talented shortstops with a huge upside. Having said that I do not believe the Cubs can get Price straight up for Castro but Castro would be the centerpiece of the package from the Cubs.

                1. On The Farm

                  I don’t think anyone would argue you that Castro would be the centerpiece in any deal he is involved in. And I don’t see anyone saying that we could get Price for Castro straight up.

              2. Norm

                You can probably make a case that he’s regressed, but it is not a fact or certainty that he has, in fact, regressed. People have bad years.

      2. willis

        You think that much? I think Castro, Voges and Johnson gets it done.

        1. Rebuilding

          I just don’t see a Guy who has been one of the most unproductive hitters in all of baseball and has no plate discipline, a DH type and an A ball pitcher on the edges of the Top 100 bringing back one of the top 5-10 SP in baseball. Especially when you look at what they got for Shields – 3 Top 30 prospects (one a Top 5) and a high upside arm

          1. Rebuilding

            I think Castro will get better, if nothing else just because of reversion to the mean, but given his offensive and defensive issues is he really even one of the Top 15 SS in baseball right now?

            1. willis

              He has the tools to be, but right now? No.

          2. willis

            Good points. But, I guess we don’t know how much (if they even do) covet Castro. I bet he would (and they think that) flourish under Maddon.

    2. willis

      Might take a little more of an arm prospect than Hendricks, but other than that, sounds about right.

    3. EricR

      Why?

  25. X the Cubs Fan

    At-least 7 years of Castro or 2 years of Price? Not a hard decision.

  26. David Price

    I would give up Castro, Vogelbach, and Alcantara all to get Price. That’s how dominating I believe he would be in the NL.

    1. On The Farm

      You have a lot of faith in yourself

  27. William

    What are you smoking? That’s way too much to give up! The Rays would laugh all the way to the bank.

    1. Rebuilding

      Ok, William. Seeing what they got for Sheilds what do you think they would take for Price?

      1. willis

        haha, I thought you were talking to me in my mom’s “you know you f’d up” voice. Still at 34 she likes to use “william” as the calling card of you’re in deed shit.

        1. willis

          *deep*

  28. Carew

    If a trade for Price begins with Castro, hang up the phone. I really am a fan of Price, but I will take a young shortstop who still has a lot of potential and talent to get to that potential over him.

  29. David Price

    Vogelbach has no where to play and the Cubs already have an excess of middle infielders. Price is proven number 1 starter and could lead this staff for the next 6 years or so.

  30. Ballrock20

    Does anyone know why Shawon Dunston isn’t playing? His last game was on the 21st.

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