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MoneyWith Jen-Ho Tseng’s signing officially official, the Chicago Cubs have nailed down what is not only the most impressive international haul in this year’s market, it’s probably one of the most impressive hauls in recent memory among all of baseball. In doing so, the Cubs spent nearly $8 million to bring in Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Jefferson Mejia, Erling Moreno, and Yohan Matos, in addition to Tseng (and likely a number of other lower-profile, less-expensive guys).

That $8 million spending spree easily blew through the Cubs’ international spending allotment, even after the organization added some pool money in trades on July 2. Blowing the budget will subject the Cubs to a 100% tax on the overage (so the total payout is going to top $10 million), and will prohibit them from spending more than $250,000 on any one player in next year’s international class. When you consider how harsh the penalties are for blowing the budget in the Draft, the Cubs are getting off light.

And that was the plan all along, according to President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who recently laid out the Cubs’ approach to international free agency this year. You can read Epstein’s explanation here, here, here and here, for example.

Epstein, who referred to the approach as “a loophole we could run through and exploit,” explained that the Cubs liked the big-time targets available in this year’s class, and felt the penalties for blowing the budget were minimal. The Cubs had an opportunity to use money to acquire young talent beyond what most other teams were going to be able to do, and the Cubs took advantage.

If that sounds familiar, it could be because Epstein’s explanation for the Cubs’ approach mirrors the one I hypothesized in early July when it started to become clear that the Cubs were targeting more big-dollar youngsters than their international spending pool would allow. That lengthy piece – which even includes “loophole” right there in the title – describes the Cubs’ probable approach, and explains why the Cubs (in particular) doing it this year (in particular) makes a lot of sense.*

Epstein echoed those sentiments, right down to the lack of an international draft in 2014 (and the “poison pill” of harsher penalties kicking in if you overspend next year) being a factor. Epstein even confirmed that the trade of Roni Torreyes for international pool space was not about staying under the cap, but was instead about saving some actual money (every dollar of pool space the Cubs acquired reduced their tax bill by a dollar).

So, the plan all along was as we suspected it was: blow the budget (acquiring pool space where possible to save a little money on superfluous pieces), target the biggest names, take your (minor) lumps next year. Now we’ll see if the other aspect of the theory – the ability to trade pool slots next year for additional young talent – will play out. Epstein says the Cubs will target lesser players (since they can’t spend more than $250,000 on any one player), and they very well might. But if they can use a big pool slot to acquire a stateside talent? They just might do that.

*All credit goes to the front office on discovering and taking advantage of the loophole. I merely deduced a possible explanation for what they were doing after they’d already started doing it. Yes, there’s a little bit of back-patting going on here, but mostly just to fully lay out the international approach to those who’d not yet seen it.

* * *

Onto a related, but separate matter …

Overspending on international amateurs this year was at least partly tied to the organization’s present inability to spend huge dollars in free agency, according to Epstein (though I’m sure he’d be the first to say that they loved being able to freely spend internationally regardless). Here’s what Epstein told the media, the quotes being available at the links above (this particular version comes from Cubs.com):

“That [international] market, you’re talking $1 million here, $1 million there, and that’s the type of thing we can afford. Right now, we’re not in a position to throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency, but we can do it in that [international] market and try to monopolize it as much as we can.”

That comment, designed to highlight the Cubs’ laudable international approach, is likely to set off some anger alarms among some of you who’ve meticulously documented the Cubs’ rapidly falling payroll over the last three years. For you folks, the “we can afford [$1 million here, $1 million there]” piece, and the “we’re not in a position to throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency” piece will scream “cheap.”

And, since you’re already on that side of the fence, little I say here will change your mind, so you might consider checking out.

For those who like their language heavily-parsed, however, let me know a number of things that, to me, underscore that Epstein isn’t really saying much of anything here.

First, and most obviously, Epstein said “right now” the Cubs can’t be spending “hundreds of millions of dollars.” The international spending that predicated the entire discussion was for the 2013 budget year. So, when Epstein says the Cubs can’t be spending huge free agent sums “right now,” well, we already knew that. The current message has consistently been that the Cubs can’t/won’t spend big until the Wrigley Field renovation plan is fully in place (it’s not yet) and the new TV deal for the WGN portion of the games is negotiated (it hasn’t been). So, whether you think that financial approach is right or wrong, there is nothing new here.

Epstein, who chooses his public words carefully, also said hundreds (plural) of millions of dollars. On its face, that’s a, “well, I mean, yeah. I agree” kind of thing. The Cubs should almost never be throwing around hundreds of millions of dollars in a single year. Even if the Cubs were spending as robustly as some think their financial situation should allow them, I doubt they’d have enough to commit hundreds (plural) of millions of dollars – especially “right now.”

($100 million contracts are rarely a good investment anyway, especially in free agency. Epstein has always maintained that kind of an attitude since coming to the Cubs, so, once again, there’s nothing here to get too riled up about. The Cubs did try to drop $75 million on Anibal Sanchez this Winter, after all. For the right players and the right risks, the money is probably already there.)

You also always have to keep in mind that there is a layer of gamesmanship involved any time the Cubs publicly discuss spending on the organization. Not only does it impact their future free agent negotiations, but, we can’t forget: there’s still a stadium renovation to be finalized. Yes, City Council has approved the bulk of the renovation, but there are still kinks to be worked out. Kinks that could probably be addressed by the heavy hand of a motivated city. Reminding everyone that the Cubs can’t truly open up the checkbook until the renovation situation is squared away doesn’t hurt, and is very much “on message.”

I don’t think Epstein is going to be throwing ownership under the bus any time soon, so you have to read comments like this one through a lens that the baseball operations folks and the business operations folks are working together. “Right now” the large revenue streams that are expected to support a large market payroll are not in place. Coordinating with that message, the Cubs are in the middle of an organizational overhaul – the kind that necessarily lends itself to spending a lot less on the big league team.

When the time is right to spend big, and the right players are available, I still believe the front office will be given the resources it needs. It could come as soon as the next year or two – that marks the confluence of the revenue streams coming online, as well as the young core theoretically emerging into the building block of a competitive roster.

  • DarthHater

    Okay, let me get this straight. The Cubs are now looking to Brett for guidance on BOTH who plays center field AND how to conduct their international spending? Wow.

  • Kyle

    Epstein says thing that agrees with what I believe: Clearly true on its face.

    Epstein says thing that may be interpreted differently than what I believe: Well, you have to remember there’s a lot of gamesmanship and he could by lying.

    (and I do mean “I” in that case and not just a shot at Brett. I still don’t believe they intended all along to blow past the penalties).

    • TWC

      “I still don’t believe they intended all along to blow past the penalties.”

      Nor do I, but they’ve had a few weeks now to convince themselves otherwise and/or get their stories straight. Or both.

      • ETS

        I think they hoped to blow through the penalties but didn’t think they get as many of the top guys as they did.

        • Kyle

          That doesn’t seem likely. These agreements are usually in place way before the signing period opens. Everybody knows pretty much exactly who is going where. I think Tseng was the only one still up in the air going into the signing period?

  • TWC

    “… And, since you’re already on that side of the fence, little I say here will change your mind, so you might consider checking out.”

    Fat chance.

  • Mr. B. Patient

    Will we still consider Theo brilliant if the next ‘Miguel Cabrera’ emerges in the IFA market, and we can’t go after him?

    I know this analogy isn’t perfect, but it seems we gave up next years top 3 draft picks to sign extra guys in this years 5th round.

    I guess we’ll see in 5 years.

    • hansman1982

      The “next ‘Miguel Cabrera’” isn’t going to be subjected to the IFA restrictions. The only way Theo doesn’t land Abreu is if he doesn’t think the price is justified.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Or, Abreu doesn’t want to play for us. :sad face:

      • Kyle

        He didn’t mean Abreu.

        He meant the next super-elite bat to emerge out of the teenage IFA system. Cabrera signed at 16 out of Venezuela for $1.8m in 1999, an insane total by the standards of the time.

      • Mr. B. Patient

        Abreu is a different situation. Epstein will place a value on him, and it’ll either be enough, or not.

        In next years IFA market, there will be at least two or three players that will be in the ‘best of’ discussion. We can’t sign any of them. That is what I meant by my next Miguel Cabrera comment. He was a highly sought after IFA. If such a player emerges next year, we be out of luck.

        Some people think this years strategy is brilliant, others of us believe it’s a bit reckless. (but I too would be happy to eat crow if all this years signees become valuable assets).

        • Jay

          The sense I’m getting is they did their homework and determined that next year’s class isn’t full of the kind of talent this year’s was—which dictated the strategy of going over the limit this year.

    • Andy

      The Cubs signed Starlin for ~ $30K. IFA is a crap shoot

      • Cubbie Blues

        Lake was also considered the better prospect.

        • Kyle

          And Mike Harper was more highly regarded than Greg Maddux. Sammy Sosa was a light-hitting centerfielder. Baseball is weird.

          • ETS

            Well, to be fair, sammy might still be a light hitting centerfielder had he not put on xx #’s of muscle mass.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Yes, yes it is.

            [img]http://gifs.gifbin.com/1237394482_japanese-baseball-team-leg-.gif[/img]

            • Justin

              What the hell is this? Pretty ridiculous, funny, and weird all at the same time!

              • Good Captain

                Kind of looks like a human “cock fight”.

              • Cubbie Blues

                It’s baseball being silly is what it is.

          • Kyle

            Derp. HarKEY. I’ve got Harper on the brain.

        • Andy

          Some would argue he still is

      • Geo

        And they got a .240 avg ,7 HR,& 31 RBI

    • TheDondino

      One thing to consider is that these deals are largely in place long before the July 1 start of free agency. Perhaps the Cubs already know that they don’t have favorable relationships with the top guys next year and/or they know the money demands they are already throwing around are too high for the perceived value.

      Plus the extra guys weren’t in this year’s 5th round, we took 4 of BA’s top 30 international prospects including the top 2. In a good IFA year, I’d hope we can sign 1 top 10 guy and another in the top 30. So we basically did next year’s IFA year this year, and still can turn around and trade next years allotment, which will be big, for more proven, closer to the majors players.

      • Mr. B. Patient

        Yes, it is possible they know next years crop won’t help them. Then i guess it was worth the risk. But don’t forget, we’ll have about 4 million available next year, and the only teams that’ll have more are either cheap, or don’t have a history of spending big on IFA’s.

        To explain my analogy better, let’s start by looking at the top 3 guys we signed. Jimenez, Torres, and Meija. Their bonus’s alone would not have penalized us enough to impact next years market. When we signed the next level of guys, the ones I referred to as ’5th rounders’, we got penalized enough to prevent us from going after next years top draft picks.

        To the FO’s credit, though, if you’re going to go over, you may as well go WAY over. I mean, if you rob a bank, don’t just settle for what the teller has, you may as well go for the vault. The penalty is pretty much the same.

  • Kyle

    I’m really not prepared to call this “one of the most impressive hauls in recent IFA memory.” I mean, I guess there’s some wiggle room in “one of the,” but we’re hardly the first team to load up on IFAs in a single year, and there have been years with much more impressive No. 1s. One Cabrera>>> everything we got this year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You’re ex post facto’ing out the wazoo, largely because you now know that Cabrera is a mega star, know that he was considered a huge prospect at the time, and received a lot of money to sign.

      That was in an entirely different signing era, where, yeah, $1.8 million was a lot … but in the capped space we now live in, $2.8 million for Jimenez is similarly a HUGE amount. And he’s the “top” prospect in the class, so, if he becomes a superstar in 10 years, does that mean the Cubs did get “One Cabrera”?

      I understand your point, but I think you’re looking at this entirely the wrong way.

      • Kyle

        I’m talking about how they were perceived *at the time*. Cabrera was the Bryce Harper of IFAs, the no-doubt No. 1 who everyone thought at the time was the best you’d see on several years in either direction.

        Jimenez is a Delmon Young or Pat Burrell, a guy who is the best available that year but has some clear flaws, and wouldn’t be a No. 1 in other years.

        • gocatsgo2003

          And the problem with aggressively pursuing the top available talent is…???

          • Kyle

            I’m not necessarily saying it’s a problem. I’m also not saying I’m in love with it.

            The possible problem is that historically, being the “top available talent” in the international free agency signing system hasn’t meant a whole lot outside of a few isolated cases. The hit rate for these “TOP AVAILABLE TALENTS!!!!” isn’t all that much better than the mid-tier guys.

            • gocatsgo2003

              Mostly because you’re talking about 15- and 16-year old kids for whom there’s a whole lot more projection. It stands to reason that the “hit rate” is lower for these younger prospects, but a team should also try to either minimize or capitalize on that lower “hit rate” as much as possible either by (i) going after the more highly-regarded talent such that the rate is minimized or (ii) signing as many players as possible to capitalize on the rate.

              • Kyle

                Yes, that’s the point. There’s a school of thought that “b” is the better approach.

                • gocatsgo2003

                  … which means that the Cubs are going to try both approaches with the first taking place this year and the second taking place next year (with the caveat that they could trade their slots for more highly-regarded talent next year as well). Where do we lose out in that strategy? It may not turn out with a Miguel Cabrera-type talent in the end, but it seems to be a pretty sound strategy.

                  • Kyle

                    We lose if doing B in both years was a better strategy.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      And now we are getting into all kinds of Game Theory-type discussions that fascinate me but I’m sure would bore 99.9% of the population on this board.

                      The moral of the story is that there’s no way to know for sure until we fast forward probably at least five years, fun as this little back-and-forth may be.

                    • Kyle

                      Which is *precisely* my point.

                      I’m not saying I hate the idea. I’m just saying I don’t think the torrents of love it gets are justified.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      (In reply to the latest post)

                      While I haven’t been around these boards for ALL that long, it doesn’t seem like you’re much of a “torrents of love” guy on most topics.

                    • Kyle

                      Ask me about how I feel about our internal development this season.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      I said “most,” not “all” for a reason…

                    • Kyle

                      OK. Ask me about the trade deadline deals.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      Now you’re just trying to be a bit of a prick.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Huh, he usually doesn’t have to try …

                    • JB88

                      Kyle, how do you feel about our trade deadline deals and internal development this season?

                      *Ducks and runs for the exit*

                    • Kyle

                      I’m the prick? You went personal.

                      It’s easy to dismiss me as just a negative guy. That’s cognitive dissonance, the urge to find labels to make it easier to dismiss people who disagree with us.

                      I’ve been absolutely effusive with praise for developments that I thought deserved it. The internal development in our organization has been off the charts this year. I thought the deadline dealing this year was pitch-perfect. I was one of the most optimistic people this year for the Cubs’ win total in the preseason (and I think that was justified), and I was one of the most praising posters in regards to last offseason.

                      Don’t slap labels on people, then call them pricks when they show you that your label is lazy and wrong.

                    • DarthHater

                      And yet, when I called you a douchebag, you embraced the label and even changed your screen name. Hmmm. :-P

                    • DARRRRRR

                      Kyle sucks as bad as Edwin Jackson

                    • DarthHater

                      Bah! Kyle’s peripherals are much better than Jackson’s. He’s just been having a really long string of bad luck.

        • TheDondino

          If there was a Cabrera level player coming up next year, wouldn’t we already have some inclination? I have to think that if the FO knew a Cabrera level player was going to be available next year, then this loophole play wouldn’t have been put into play. Or they already know that the Cabrera player is likely headed somewhere else. Players that have that kind of hype don’t blow up over one season, they’ve shown the ability for awhile and the hype train has grown with it.

          • Kyle

            Yeah. I’m perfectly willing to take the front office at their word that they aren’t impressed with next year’s talent group.

            But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to call this year’s group a historic haul or anything.

            • ssckelley

              I don’t either but this was a clear “moneyball” move by the Cubs FO. With the stiffer penalties coming next year this was the last year to expose the loophole so they took it. There very well could be a Cabrera type prospect next year and when teams get into a bidding war over him the Cubs will have top 10 pool slots to dangle in front of them.

  • itzscott

    How alien it is to all of us to have a shrewd, sharp and intelligent front office instead of the long line of dopes (except for Dallas Green) that we’re all used to.

    This is so far beyond “out there” when it comes to anything “Cub” that I think the front office should actually win the Cub MVP this year.

    • Kyle

      I don’t think MacPhail was dumb. He just didn’t have the motivation that Epstein seems to.

      • JB88

        Or resources.

        • Kyle

          He had the resources, I think. He just didn’t want to use them because he had half a foot out the door with an eye toward the commissioner’s office.

          • JB88

            He might have had the pure cash to spend, but I doubt he had the resources that Theo has at his disposal. He didn’t have the scouting department, the FO staff, Carmine-lite, upgraded minor-league facilities, an upgraded Arizona facility, an Asia scouting staff (I believe that was implemented after he left, but I might be wrong about that one), or a Dominican development facility.

            Now, maybe that was all made possible by Theo’s “motivation”, but it wouldn’t surprise me (or probably anyone) if the Tribune artificially limited the amount of money available for the development side.

          • wilbur

            doesnt sound very smart to me, he basically shafted cubs fans and the team chances of winning for his own ego and self advancement. Not to mention putting people in place throughout the organization that had similar priorities, their jobs and pay above all else. Not a recipe for success, especially when he had about as much chance of getting to be commissioner as you or me. Well me at least, maybe you still have a shot?

  • Justin

    So this international spending approach is so freaking genius. Looking back, it seems the obvious now.. I would much rather have several elite talents than a bunch of randoms. I would have to think every other FO with cash to spend are pissed they didn’t come up with it.. Brett, what are the penalties next yr if teams go over? Theo mentions they are harsher. I would imagine several teams will blow it out next yr. Which makes it tougher because of more competition to spend since the Cubs were the only team willing to go nuts this yr. This may be my favorite thing the FO has done to this point.

    • Kyle

      Beginning next year, if you go into the penalties, they apply for two years instead of one.

      Other front offices thought of this. Everybody thought of this. It was bandied about as a possibility from the moment the CBA was announced. Tampa even did it last year, to a degree.

      Other teams didn’t do it because they were busy spending their money on winning MLB games. Fools.

      • Justin

        Kyle, this is the first time i have heard “everybody thought of this”. Not sure if you’re trying to troll me and make my point ridiculous, or there is actual truth to the point “everybody thought of this”?? I would be shocked if the Dodgers thought of this, and decided to hold on to a couple extra mill “because they were spending their money on winning MLB games”. But maybe everyone on the Planet knew about doing this the day the CBA was signed besides me..

        • Kyle

          No, I really mean it. Everybody thought of this. It has been discussed everywhere as a possibility by fans from the moment the new CBA was revealed.

          • Cubswin

            If “Everybody” thought of this why were we the ones to do the first trade for it and the only team to intentionally blow wayyy over our allotment for the harshest penalties? Your trying to tell me out of every MLB Front office everyone thought it was a bad idea except us? Thats extremely unlikely and don’t at all think is possible.

            • ETS

              didn’t even Brett* say when the new CBA was announced that it leaves the opening for teams to go crazy in a year they really like the draft class and just take the penalties the following year? Yes, everyone did think of this.

              *Not singling out Brett in a negative way, I’m just saying it was on THIS site, let alone 1000 others, let alone the fact that it doesn’t take a ton of imagination to think that, hey we could sign away and just pay the price next year.

            • Kyle

              First, the Rays did this last year (exceeding their pool by more than 30%) and took the harshest penalties.

              I’m telling you that out of 30 front offices, we are the only ones who thought it was the best use of our resources.

              Some didn’t have the money to do it. Some preferred to spend their money elsewhere. Some thought it was a bad idea.

        • Kyle

          Another reason teams might not do it is because they aren’t convinced it is a good idea. Historically, the best IFA talent isn’t necessarily the guys who are rated the highest at 16. There’s a ton of variability. Teams have gotten great value in the past by signing a lot of lower-rated guys at lower prices.

          It’s not like the MLB domestic draft, where the best talent usually comes from the top.

          • Justin

            Well, I really thought it was a revolutionary idea. I guess I need to pay more attention to these things. Although, I still like it a lot. I am really curious to see what type of talent the Cubs can buy next yr by trading their pool money. Like, what type of prospect can the Cubs get from the Marlins for $3 Mill in pool money next yr?

            • Mr. B. Patient

              No one knows what the pool money is ‘really’ worth, but somehow I don’t see a plausible scenario that the Marlins would want to spend $3 million extra. Not while Loria owns them.
              If next years IFA market seems weak, I would imagine no team would give up too much to acquire extra pool dollars.

  • Cubbie Blues

    Where do the penalties go to? Charities? If so, can the Cubs claim the charitable contribution on their taxes?
    [img]http://www.automizeit.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/guinness-brilliant.jpeg[/img]

    • ETS

      I think the penalties all go to the Cardinals and then they get a special compensation pick.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Makes sense.

      • Internet Random

        Heh.

  • Gutshot5820

    The International Draft was a “total failure” by the FO. The “spin” Theo is giving us is to be expected but c’mon. If they were going to bl;ow through the draft pool, they should have done so by a much more large amount to make it worthwhile. It’s obvious by even looking at they amount they exceeded the pool that they were targeting just enough to stay within limits after trading for 50% more. In order to avoid penalties, but they failed to trade for more space.

    When the Cubs traded Torreyes for draft pool money, everyone was saying, Theo must know what he is doing and have it all planned out and the FO can’t be stupid enough to trade for pool money without a plan. Now all of the sudden, after their inability to trade for more cap space, they spin it around and everyone thinks they are geniuses.

    The only way blowing past the draft pool made more sense than trading for 50% more cap space and staying within penalties is to blow WAY past the pool amount. If they were able to trade for 50% more cap space, they could have signed everyone they already did (maybe lose one of the lower tier signings) and still stay within penalties and have the option to do whatever they wanted next year with another large pool allotment.

    So how is what they did in any way genius? I say FAILURE. Ande before people start bashing me, in other areas of the FO, I am extremely happy.

    • Jon

      I think moving Torreyes was half about more pool money, but also clearing a spot Tennessee for a cluttered infield.

      • Justin

        I still think the moving Torreyes thing is weird when they planned to blow the top off it anyway. Maybe it was partially so other teams wouldn’t catch wind they were going all in on all the top players and going beyond their pool allotment? At least I partially hope that was part of the reasoning.

        • ssckelley

          I do not find it weird at all. There have been a number of trades made with cash involved. I believe the Cubs made a deal earlier in the season for a player in exchange of a PTBNL or cash. As good as the Cubs farm system is getting a “fringy” type prospect my be more of a burden than just taking the cash.

          • Eternal pessemist

            Agreed. Isnt it possible they didn’t think he was all that good? As always, time will tell.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “It’s obvious by even looking at they amount they exceeded the pool that they were targeting just enough to stay within limits after trading for 50% more.”

      This looks to be incorrect, based on what we know of the signing amounts. Even if the Cubs had acquired the full 50% bump in pool, they still would have exceeded the cap by more than 15% and incurred the greatest penalty.

      You can only sign so many international guys – the relationships are cultivated for a very long time before the deals are done, and guys stick to their word in signing.

    • Cyranojoe

      Seems like more of a “whoopsie” at worst. It’s just money in the end, and the reports for next year’s international class (and the penalties for going over next year) continue to suggest pretty clearly that this year and this talent pool was the one to make that “mistake” with.

      • Kyle

        Yeah. I’m not exactly getting the pitchforks out over it. I’m just not convinced they meant to do it all along.

        • ssckelley

          If this is true then I give the Cubs FO credit for adjusting their strategy mid stream.

          • Kyle

            I have. I actually think that’s more admirable than the idea that they planned it all along.

    • TheDondino

      You can’t force guys to sign with you, even if you offer a truck-load more money. Eloy Jimenez had a larger (reportedly, way larger) offer from an unknown team, yet still signed with the Cubs. With the IFA period, a lot of these deals are done way before it starts. These players are training at team specific academies, training with coaches who are being paid by specific major league clubs. There are a number of reasons why these kids sign, money is the biggest, but definitely not the only one.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      If they have an exact budget, and in that budget they had say $10 million left over, then how is it a failure. They don’t have unlimited funds, but they showed you can get a lot with $8 million and in fact spend a little more. If you understood what it takes to gain slots in the international side of things you wouldn’t be calling this a failure. You can only trade for slots. People value those slots. Essentially we could only trade with a team at the top and gain like their top 3-4 slots to come in under the penalty. Any team bad enough to get more money wasn’t ready to compete. Therefore, they aren’t trading their first few slots to gain 3 months of Garza, or a year of Soriano. There are only 3 players on this team who would have gained that much internationally, and that wouldn’t have happened. Again, Houston had the most to spend. They would have traded for prospects (they did), but it wasn’t a big money slot. Would you give up a Javier Baez to gain slots? Hell no. This was the plan believe it or not.

    • gocatsgo2003

      At the end of the day, your so-called “failure” results in an influx of talent we wouldn’t have had otherwise and fits within the budget set by ownership. Where’s the failure there?

      • CubsFaninMS

        Agreed! If this was the stock market and we all had a legitimate stake in the players, then we’d be up in arms perhaps. But.. it’s not the fans’ money and it infuses our farm system with talent. I see little reason to complain except to discuss possible better strategies. Even that is a slippery slope being that we have a small fraction of an understanding how the overall market was during the IFA period and trade deadline than our front office does. At some point people are hopelessly criticizing a decision based on intangibles we cannot analyze as fans.

    • hansman1982

      If they were trying to trade for and stay within their max limit, why did they send cap space with Marmol?

      I think they just truly didn’t give a shit about the penalties.

      • Edwin

        If they didn’t care about penalties, why trade Torres?

        • jh03

          Did you even read Brett’s article?

        • Jon

          To clear a spot on the Smokies infield? Torreyes really isn’t any good.

        • Kyle

          They are claiming it was because they wanted to save $800k in cash. That’s disappointing if true.

          • Justin

            Isn’t 800k in pool money for Torreyes really $1.6 Mill in savings when it’s all said and done. It takes the overage down $800k. Right?

            • ETS

              I believe so.

              Was torreyes rule 5 eligible?

            • Kyle

              No. We’ve been over this one a bunch of times :)

              $800k lowers the overage by $800k and thus the taxes by $800k, but it doesn’t change the base amount you spend.

              If your pool is $4 million and you spend $5m, your tax would make your total expenditures $6m.

              If you trade for $800k in pool space, your tax would make your total expenditure $5.2m.

              • Jon

                Again, Ronald Torreyes has a 219 wOBA for Houston. Am I the only person that doesn’t give a flying fart he’s gone?]

                • Kyle

                  I doubt that you are. I’m still a little annoyed that he’s gone for that little. Crappy prospects all over the place get multi-million dollar deals if they are lucky enough to become unrestricted FAs.

                • gocatsgo2003

                  As someone else who doesn’t give a flying fart… nope!

                  By the way… and this is weird… we just agreed on something.

              • Justin

                I didn’t realize the pool money regarding Torreyes was commonly discussed, my bad. If the Cubs were already over their space (and by all accounts they were when they moved Torreyes). Then trading for $800k in slot, doubles the savings when you consider tax. Or I am having a bad day with not knowing INTL spending commonly known loop holes, or INTL spending math:)

          • gocatsgo2003

            If you can save almost a million bucks (real dollars, not esoteric “pool money”) by trading a smallish player without much of a future in the middle infield of your organization, why wouldn’t you?

            By the way, he currently has a .211/.242/.232 line across 100 PAs for Houston, so maybe it wasn’t quite so silly after all.

            • Kyle

              I wouldn’t, because I think I could get more value than that trading him elsewhere.

              • gocatsgo2003

                Such as… more international pool money? A better prospect? It isn’t often you see prospect-for-prospect trades and, at least as far as I understand the international slotting system, we couldn’t get more actual dollar figures at that tier of IFA money than by trading with Houston.

                • Kyle

                  Actual cash, throw-in in another deal to get a better prospect, another prospect.

                  • gocatsgo2003

                    …but the entire point is that we did get $800k in “actual cash” for Torreyes, just in the form of reduced tax obligations instead of a cash inflow.

                    • Kyle

                      And my point is that I think we could have gotten more.

                      Since IFA money is more restricted than actual cash, it stands to reason that it’s more valuable on the open market than actual cash. So if you could get $800k in pool money, you could presumably get more than that in actual cash.

                      Using IFA pool money as cash is inefficient.

                    • Justin

                      This I do agree with Kyle. IFA pool cash is worth a lot more than real money. Double? Triple? Who knows… Hopefully it’s worth a shitload more than real money because the Cubs are going to be moving most of theirs next yr.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      When you’re going to blow past the steepest penalty regardless of what you trade for (in pool space), then the maximum value of the pool space is its real cash equivalent. Because, to you, technically, that space has no other value.

                    • gocatsgo2003

                      This doesn’t make any sense at all. By reducing a cash obligation in one area of the budget (e.g. tax obligations related to your IFA overage), you can use the cash that is freed up for any any all purposes (e.g. anything you can come up with that’s not your tax on IFA overage).

                    • Kyle

                      It makes perfect sense. You just aren’t keeping up.

                      The Cubs went over the limit, so the value of IFA pool space to *them* was pure cash.

                      But for 29 other teams, the value of IFA pool space was additional prospects, not just the cash itself. And those prospects are worth more than the cash they get paid (or else we wouldn’t have restrictions such as pool space to try to drive down their costs).

                      If you have $800k in tradeable pool space, you should be able to trade it for more than $800k in cash value, because that pool space will get you a prospect who would be worth a lot more than $800k if the market were unrestricted.

                    • Kyle

                      “When you’re going to blow past the steepest penalty regardless of what you trade for (in pool space), then the maximum value of the pool space is its real cash equivalent. Because, to you, technically, that space has no other value.”

                      Which is why a team in that position shouldn’t be acquiring extra pool space, because it means less to them than it does to the market as a whole. In economic terms, acquiring IFA pool space to a team that blows the budget is a competitive disadvantage.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Not if the piece you trade to get it is redundant, low ceiling, low probability, etc., etc., or a combination of all of those things.

                    • Kyle

                      “Not if the piece you trade to get it is redundant, low ceiling, low probability, etc., etc., or a combination of all of those things.”

                      Yes, even then. Because either someone else will give you a slightly better asset for him that you can actually use to its fullest extent, or you can trade that pool space to someone else for more.

                      Using a $20 bill as a $10 bill is inefficient, no matter what you traded to get it.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Guh? If the Cubs valued Torreyes at $500,000, and found no other team interested in paying the equivalent (or better) price in talent, they found a way to *sell* him for $800,000.

                      It has nothing to do with their international pool space or plan. They found a way to sell a superfluous piece for a return they thought was good.

                    • JB88

                      “Not if the piece you trade to get it is redundant, low ceiling, low probability, etc., etc., or a combination of all of those things.”

                      And not when you are ready to promote one of your best (if not your best) prospect to AA and the prospect who is currently manning a spot would be better manning your spot. Could Torreyes have been packaged in the Feldman deal? Maybe, but the reality is you needed his roster spot ASAP and you couldn’t wait for other trades to materialize later in the month.

                    • Kyle

                      “Guh? If the Cubs valued Torreyes at $500,000, and found no other team interested in paying the equivalent (or better) price in talent, they found a way to *sell* him for $800,000.”

                      In order to believe that the Cubs couldn’t get a single better value offer for Torreyes, you’d have to believe that the Astros valued him several times more than any of the other 28 teams.

                      I can’t say that’s literally impossible, but it’s getting into the realm where accepting that the Cubs may not have brilliantly planned every last detail is probably the much more likely option.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      As I’ve said all along about the Torreyes piece, it served the dual purposes of selling a redundant/blocked/low ceiling guy for cash *AND* providing cover in case the Cubs couldn’t land every prospect they wanted (and then could avoid the stiffest penalties). As the month played out, the Cubs did manage to get everyone they’d been talking to (Tseng, not from Latin America, and not quite in the same “pre-agreement” type situation, was clearly the wild card). To me, that’s about as likely an explanation as you can find.

                      To argue differently is probably just a matter of confirmation bias.

                  • DARRRRRR

                    Get a job Kyle

                    • Kyle

                      I have one.

                    • DARRRRRR

                      Why so negative then? Be happy bro.

        • Cubbie Blues

          To get money for a light hitting infielder. I don’t *need* someone to give me $100 for a router in my garage that isn’t being used, but if offered I’d probably take it.

          • TWC

            A $100 router? Sure. Then you can return it and use the credit to buy a real router.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Well, it is quite an old router.

    • CubsFaninMS

      Ronald Torreyes has a .211 AVG, .242 OBP along with 2 doubles and 6 RBIs in 95 at bats since joining the Corpus Christi club with the Astros. This is their AA team so he was not promoted when he was traded and, theoretically, should not have been more challenged. We’re loaded with infield prospects. Torreyes will not be missed but let’s wish him luck with the ‘stros’ system.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy 16

    Well put the Dondino!!

  • jh03
    • Jon

      He needs to go back to the Hawks beat, he knows nothing about how baseball works….

      • Billy

        I agree Jesse is a terrible baseball writer, but really so are all the beat writers for ESPNChicago. Not sure if it is because they all truly suck or because ESPN wants them to write things that will get hits to the website. I’m willing to bet half the people who view ESPN.com know very little about Bryant so seeing a story about him will get more traffic

        • Cubbie Blues

          I bet Sahadev Sharma would like to disagree with that statement.

          • Billy

            most*

      • JB88

        He also works harder than just about anyone. When he started on the Hawks beat he knew nothing about hockey, but emerged as a pretty decent reporter on the sport.

        Look at his writing in February on the Cubs compared to now. It is light-years better at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rogers emerge as the same quality as Mooney and Gonzalez (what a breathe of fresh air and professionalism he’s been since coming on the beat) within the next season or two.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I will say this about Rogers: I have always found him to be a solid writer. He was clearly green on some of the baseball stuff when he started out, but the improvement has been obvious. But the writing quality was always good.

          This Bryant piece … well … I think it probably shouldn’t have been written in quite the way it was.

          • JB88

            Now if you want to be critical about a Cubs beat writer (Paul Sullivan excused from consideration), then the guy to criticize is Gordon Wittenmyer whose become somewhat of a one-trick pony with his constant harping on the Cubs’ cash situation.

            • JB88

              Whose = who has.

            • Jon

              Sullivan is no longer on the Cubs beat(praise God).

              • JB88

                Hence the reason he was excused from consideration …

          • JB88

            I’ll second the timing of the Rogers’ piece. It seems like he is trolling for clicks and that isn’t usually his style.

            Bryant isn’t ready for the majors. IMHO, at most, you could see Bryant get a September 2014 call-up. And that is only if he absolutely mashes at AA to start the season and kills it at AAA after a mid-season call up. And even then, assuming he does all that, it probably also means that the Cubs have made a decision with Olt (who presumably could still be in AAA when Bryant arrives or starting for the Cubs) and, in which case, you could see Bryant only come up as a LF’er (which is where I think he ends up eventually anyway).

    • Mr. B. Patient

      I think all Cubs fans (and the front office) hopes that Kris Bryant makes quick strides and becomes our 3rd baseman real soon. the key word: HOPES. To expect it, as Jesse does, is crazy.

      He also implies the reason Lake was moved off of 3rd was because of Bryant. That’s even crazier.
      Lake was moved because he can’t play 3rd.

      Is Jesse really this ‘baseball naive’, or is he just trolling for hits?

    • PKJ

      So silly. Why would they forego an entire year of control just for a half of a season of above average 3B performance? Even if he has a spring training OPS of .1500, he’s still not getting the call til mid-season.

  • Whiteflag

    Can someone help me out with the web address for the Wrigley renovation and the mesa renovation? I don’t have facebook or twitter.

  • caryatid62

    The lack of spending doesn’t spell “cheap” to me. It spells “broker than we had hoped because they couldn’t really afford the team in the first place.” I WISH they were cheap–then it would only take a mindset change to impact the roster.

    My real fears are that they are so heavily in debt that they can’t afford to pay major league talent commensurate with their revenues.

    • When the Music’s Over

      This is exactly what I thought when I read Brett saying this isn’t a cheap move

      You can’t be considered cheap if simply don’t have the money to spend on the third g’s you really want (major league talent) and instead spend it on the the next best thing you can afford (draft pools).

      • When the Music’s Over

        Third g’s = the guys

        Fat finger phone correction

    • wilbur

      You are basing this on what? A wooly minded suntimes beat writer’s musings about finance? The Ricketts are in debt to the Tribune for the team for 10 years or so, which isn’t so different than gettng a 10 year 900 million line of credit from the banks holding the bag for the tribs debt . The Ricketts own the team now, and still have the liquid assets they were prepared to buy the team with before Zell imposed his tax avoidance structure on the deal. That means the ownership can use those funds for things like a stadium rebuild, putting up hotels, rebuilding minor league facilities and staffing improvements. In effect the Tribune is loaning the team the billion bucks for ten years to do these things. How is that hurting the team or the fans? It may well turn out to be a sweeter deal for the Cubs ownership than anyone could have imagined.

  • Chris

    Brett,

    A “little” bit of back-patting??? Jeeze, I wonder what a LOT of back-patting would be like.

    lol ;)

  • Cheryl

    It looks like we have the Assman if baseball strategy on this site. Congratulations on figuring this out, Brett, I don’t think anybody even came close to realizing what the FO was goin to do. I remember you mentioned it to Law and he more or less dismissed the idea. Goood work!

    • JB88

      In fairness, John Arguelo at Cubs Den posted almost the exact same article within 15 minutes of this article (I don’t actually remember who posted it first, but it was uncanny how the same article popped on both sites around the same time).

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        If I remember correctly, a lot of folks wrote about the issue that day (it was July 4, and the Cubs’ aggressiveness emerged that day). This is one of those awkward things to say (because I’m definitely not putting anyone else down in the process), but I’m particularly proud of my work on this stuff, so I’ll say it … no one wrote about it quite as deeply and comprehensively as I did.

        • JB88

          Probably not. And I wasn’t intending to suggest that someone did, just that yours was not the only piece on this topic. Again, it was not intended to be disrespectful or diminish your piece, just to point out that it wasn’t exclusive on the topic.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I know you didn’t mean it in any way but as information. I don’t remember John or Tom’s piece, specifically, but I know that blowing the budget was written about (even Phil Rogers discussed it that day) by other folks.

            I just wanted to underscore that on that day, and in the weeks that followed, this became something of a particular focus of mine, and I’m not quite sure anyone else addressed all of the issues (and offered the same insights) that I did. Ew. This all makes me sound like a bit of a douche. I guess I’m OK with it on this one.

            • waittilthisyear

              haha its so hard to voice being pleased with yourself without sounding like, well, “a bit of a douche.” valient effort. more importantly, you did a better job covering this development (and pretty much all things cubs) than any other media outlet

            • JB88

              If you feel douchy saying it, I am happy to say that one of the reasons I frequent this site is your intellectual examination of most everything Cubs-related.

        • Cubbie Blues

          You shouldn’t feel bad about tooting your own horn every once in a while, Ace.

          • TWC

            He’ll go blind.

            • Cubbie Blues

              I thought that was only if you did it too much.

              • DarthHater

                Getting worried?

      • wilbur

        Most of what is on that site is repeating what someone else said and then congratulating themselves on how clever and affiliated they all are. As for insights and analyses better off looking elsewhere or just going to the sources they are copying.

        • waittilthisyear

          ok. see ya

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Is it worth pointing out the irony that you’re leaving this comment on a 1300-word piece of original deconstruction, explanation, and analysis? (And a day after 1300 (original!) words on Jake Arrieta and service time (http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/08/15/jake-arrieta-joins-the-rotation-are-there-any-service-time-implications-here/), and 700 (original!) words on the implications of where the Cubs are in the standings (http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/08/15/checking-in-on-the-standings-and-discussing-protected-picks/).)

          • Edwin

            Was Wilbur talking about Bleacher Nation or Cubs Den? His post is far enough down enough that I can’t tell who he’s referring to, and he says “Most of what is on that site”, so I don’t know which site he is referring to.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Oh boy, I might have my foot in my mouth on that one – it was hard to tell, like you said, because of all of the replies.

              If he was talking about Cubs Den, though, I don’t really think that was fair, either – I think they do good work that definitely isn’t just all copying.

              • Edwin

                Agreed. I didn’t know about Cubs Dens until this year, but John (I think it’s John) does great stuff there as well.

                • waittilthisyear

                  my apologies as well wilbur, i misread it too

          • Edwin

            Also, 1300 words? Nicely done Brett. You’re like the James Joyce of the Cubs baseball blog world.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              You’ll note that I didn’t say anything about the self-congratulatory part …

              • Edwin

                When you start composing daily bullets in the style of Homer (Not simpson), or of Shakespeare, that would even more impressive. And fun!

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Heh. That would actually be pretty funny to do for a day …

                  • Edwin

                    Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious Arrieta who traveled
                    far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of
                    St Louis.

  • http://permalink toby taylor

    not real sure what all the whining and crying is about on the intrntl deal this yr…we had an opportunity to invest into some really good,young prospects and blow the budget and only get penalized 1 yr for it(so the small deals to get extra space were for show- to the commissioners office incase one of the other owners started cyring we did it intentionally-ie which we did lol) and to top it off if next year we have a good cap amount that what can we do with the extra space we don’t use??? turn it into low level prospects, better prospects in deals as throw-ins on deals etc etc they can play the supply/demand game next yr like Houston did this yr-duh. it all boils to the same thing- finding the clumps of prospects without dumping/losing a lot from your own account or system- ingenious

  • Patrick

    Bravo Brett, bravo. You called this and nailed almost everything right down to the finest detail. A job well done.

  • cubsin

    We got the #1 and #2 (per BA) or #1 and #3 (per MLB) international prospects, plus two others from both Top Thirties, and well as Mejia, who wasn’t eligible for the BA list because he was already 18 (his first contract was disallowed by MLB). I don’t know if he was eligible for MLB’s list. That’s considerably better than most teams will manage with their combined picks from 2013 and 2014. It’s even better than most teams will manage with their combined picks from 2013, 2014 and 2015. So I consider this a clear win for the Cubs.

    • X the Cubs Fan

      agreed

  • Die hard

    Why are the Cubs bragging that they have been the best at taking advantage of a system that is one step away from involuntary servitude that likely includes doubtful relationships with the countries of origin?🐂🐂🐂🐂🐂🐓🐓🐓🐓🎎🎎

    • wilbur

      I was thinking along the same lines with the comparison to what the cuban defectors are getting offered by being exempt from these ifa strictures.

  • gutshot5820

    Ridiculous. How about NOT signing Jen-Ho Tseng (bottom 20 IFA ranking) and trading for just enough cap space to remain under penalties?

    Basically, we BLEW through the cap space to sign a mid 20′s ranked IFA…YUCK. When we could use our total cap space next year to sign the number 1 and another top 10 next year. Hard to believe that makes sense at all. And also hard to believe that was the plan all along. How is that even remotely believable and how can people be clamoring that it was genius?

    • Brent

      You are an idiot and 100% clueless.

      • gutshot5820

        Classy. Makes you look more intelligent and less idiotic, I suppose.

    • X the Cubs Fan

      Acquiring cap space wasn’t as easy as they once thought it would be so they just blew through the cap.

      • wilbur

        How many teams wound up with unused cap space? not very efficient of them.

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    Comments made by Tom Ricketts in June 2011, about spending:”What everyone should know . . . is that nothing in the capital structure, in the balance sheet, or any of the debt will, in any way, limit our ability to put a good team on the field,” Ricketts said. “The fact is, this year we spent more on baseball operations than any year in the past and we continue to invest in the team. It’s in no way a limitation on our ability to sign free agents or flexibility to build a better organization. It’s just irrelevant to that.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/story?id=6665869

    1) As we know now, the investment is towards Wrigley Field renovation of $500 million.
    2) To do this, it seems the analysis was done to cut payroll for 4-5 years by 20-40 million, make smaller investments in International Mkt, try to be competitive to a point, if that fails by mid-June, trade off under-performing assets (players) and get enough potentially high ceiling prospects to build forward on.
    3) Any loss in profitability, incomes, may be beneficial to the ownership, given other investments to be made. (Tax amendments – NOL (net operating losses) can be carried forward against future profits… Since we don’t know the Cubs’ books, this could be one option they are not unhappy to see in 2013 – assuming they are even going to lose money on the season.)
    4) Their not going to substantial boost payroll since, well, the 2014/15 FA class is not considered plum for good selections. Sure, they’ll possibly explore a few stop-gap options on the catching, OF side, but they, likely as not, would be content to have a payroll under $80 million, win maybe, 70 games again, pick again in the top 10.

    This a bit of opportunity cost as President Theo Epstein confirms: ” Right now, we’re not in a position to throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency, but we can do it in that [international] market and try to monopolize it as much as we can.”

    In short, from a badly spent 2011 payroll of 134M, to 2012 at 109M, to 2013′s payrool at now, under $100M (after trade savings), to 2014′s projected payroll of likely $80-85M tops, the Ricketts have shifted approximately over $150M from player salaries towards various investments in D.R., International FA, and towards the renovations fund undoubtedly they are building up – since they are to handle 100% of said costs.

    2012: 25M
    2013: 30M
    2014: 50M
    2015: 40M (Figure payroll at 90M, at best)

    So, there is something to think about.

  • Kramden

    If you think about it, the plan in place is a win-win for both fans and ownership…. The premise being that a team is just as likely to win by securing and locking in young, very high upside and relatively inexpensive prospects that have a high probability of developing into impact major leaguers as it would assembling a team of high cost free agents (been there, done that, didn’t work, long term, no-trade contracts were unproductive and limits a teams options going forward).

    No?

    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      I don’t disagree. But to some fans, this path is not their cup of tea.

      • Chad

        Thankfully some fans don’t run the cubs organization.

        • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

          But they think they do…;)

          Many of them, write a lot here.

          • wilbur

            It is hard on the season ticket holders. Many of which are used to flipping a few of their tickets and getting enough back to pay for their whole season ticket package. Can’t do that for a losing team that is selling tickets below face value. Or, some season ticket holders like feeling like the “great benefactor” giving out free tickets to their friends who are eternally grateful, but now instead, they can’t even give them away. While I can understand how this would be disappointing, I really don’t care or want to hear them whine about it. They could just drop buying the season tickets if it truly bothered them but most won’t because they like their seats and don’t want to miss out on the championship runs we all hope are coming. Just stop whining about it. It is almost as annoying as having to listen to players agents and their shills complaining about big market teams not spending freely on free agent players and thus putting a fat commision in their pockets. Who really cares? We want a championship not more wealthy players and their agents. this is why the cubs could get away with out winning for decades, because some were happy with the losing as loing as they could profit personally.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    I’m surely confused I’m a lifelong baseball fan but only follow the major league living in chicago I never followed the minors. there is an article here about the cubs roster and its future with homegrown players which if I read correctly looks bleak.however everybody seems to be very high on these kids prospects.so my question is how many of these college or high school kids can be expected to hit the majors and how many of them can become stars?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      That is a really long answer to drop into one comment.

      Probably the best thing to do would be to pull up the articles flagged Minor Leagues and Prospects here (the link is under Cubs Stuff at the top of the page) and look through those. The Bleacher Nation Top 40s will give you a pretty good idea of who the most likely prospects to reach the majors are, but that’s only the beginning of the mountain of information available.

      This is a very good time to start following the minors, though. A lot of good things are happening in the farm system.

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        ^^^this too.

    • Cubbie Blues

      The article you are talking about is If our homegrown players that would be on the team right now, not what is coming through the pipeline. For example it may have had Felix Pie on the team, but he is not with the organization any longer, he is with the Pirates AAA team.

    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      Easy answer: it depends.

      Out of each draft, probably not usually more than 3-5 ever make it to the bigs out of 40-50 picks (if we go back to earlier 50 round drafts). If a team is lucky, 1 will be “a star” about every other year. That assumes they sign every guy. Sometimes they pick a HS/College dude, he does not sign, but later gets picked and stars somewhere else.

      Currently, maybe 6-8 guys have that potential to be contributors to the bigs of worth. 2 probably will become ‘stars’ play for 6-10 seasons above a replacement value.

      • bbmoney

        If there are only 2 guys in the system that can contribute above replacement level play for 6-10 years the Cubs are in big trouble. Above average MLBer play? That seems more likely.

        • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

          Yeah, I fudged that. Say 2.0WAR.

          • bbmoney

            Cool, I just wanted to make sure.

            I still argue there may be more guys than 2 in the system, but not necessarily more than 2 from the big 4 or 5 guys everyone thinks about.

        • Chad

          Yeah, above replacement. The cubs have already developed 2 (Castro and Shark). I’m guessing that in the system right now there are maybe 10 guys that will be above replacement, maybe more. Some may be the Baez’s of the world, some we may not have heard of yet. You hope for at least a star or 2 out of the current group with multiple guys that can have a positive WAR.

  • SenorCub

    I don’t know about anyone else but I am expecting a very competitive team in 2014, not a playoff team but pretty darn close to it. My concern is that the current make-up offensively does not give me confidence that this will be the case. I would like to see a couple of pieces from the current in-field moved and upgraded. We must get a 3rd baseman with a big bat, even if it’s an expensive one for a year rental buying the crowded 3rd basemen in the minors an extra year of development. I am indifferent of moving any of the remaining, Rizzo, Barney, Castro for an upgrade. The obvious choice is Barney however we see what everyone else sees and that will not get the Cubs much in return for him. I think if you can package Barney and Castro or Rizzo, you may get a real legit Cano type in return. 1st Basemen are not hard to come by it’s probably easier to move Rizzo. The outfield also needs a complete make over and so maybe that’s for 2015 when I expect the Cubs to be a perennial playoff team.

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  • Edwin

    So, which players were the “extra” players that the Cubs were able to sign by blowing through the penalties?

    If the Cubs wouln’t have taken the penalties, what would their international class have looked like? I think those are the players you need to look at and decide if it was better to have those players this year, or possiblily fewer (but “better”) players next year.

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