stoveToday is the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to free agents, and it’s also the last day before free agents are turned loose to sign with new teams. We’ll have more on both of those things soon. Until then …

  • Although the procedures by which he’d come to the States are yet to be established, Masahiro Tanaka appears poised to leap to MLB at some point this offseason. If so, he left Japan in style: he threw 160 pitches in his final start, and came back to throw 15 more pitches the next night. According to that New York Times piece, yes, some scouts are worried about the impact such outings would have on his arm (that kind of thing is not terribly uncommon as young pitchers are coming up in Japan – it’s just a different philosophy), and teams could question whether he’s worth a $100 million+ risk. That said, one start/relief appearance, alone, isn’t going to turn away a team that was otherwise interested. Hopefully the Cubs, if they’re interested, have been following Tanaka closely for a very long time, and have a good sense of his health – at least as much as you can have from the outside.
  • Ken Rosenthal discusses David Price’s trade value, which will only be helped by an extremely weak pitching market. Everyone expects that Price will be dealt this Winter, and the Cubs have been connected in such a deal for almost a year now (including once again by Rosenthal in that there piece). Thing is, unless the Cubs figure to add a significant bat or two for the 2014 season, the value in adding Price – who is under control for 2014 and 2015, only – is dramatically reduced.
  • As they have been before, the Marlins are insistent that they will not be trading Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, despite his expected massive pay raise via arbitration. Even with the injury concerns and soon-escalating wage, Stanton would net a tremendous haul on the trade market if the Marlins changed their mind. It’s easy to see why they wouldn’t, though, because – as much as we might hate it – they do have a very nice young core developing and nearly ready to break through.
  • Scott Boras says his phone was ringing off the hook with respect to Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew just moments after the World Series ended. The Cubs have been connected to Ellsbury for some time, so you wonder if one of those calls came from their front office. If it did, I’d think it was of the “exploratory” variety, because it remains extremely difficult to see the Cubs devoting more than $100 million to Ellsbury right now. Tim Dierkes, who has been pretty good at predicting free agent contracts in recent years, pegs Ellsbury as a seven-year, $150 million man. It wasn’t much more than a month ago that we wondered whether Ellsbury was worth $100 million, let alone $150 million. I don’t think Dierkes is too far off on this one, and I’m not seeing the Cubs involved at that level.
  • Early possibility (among many) for a pitching flyer via a minor league deal? How about lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who came over from Japan before the 2012 season to some fanfare (some … not a lot), only to promptly undergo Tommy John surgery? He spent the 2012 season rehabbing, and then the 2013 season working out his arm at AAA. The Orioles just declined a $5 million option on him, making him a free agent. He’ll be 33 next year, so there are some years in the tank. Just a flyer type here, but maybe something worth keeping an eye one.
  • I’m not sure the Cubs will want to grab another platoon outfielder, but, if they do, MLBTR speculates that the Rays could make Matt Joyce available in the wake of the David DeJesus option pick-up/extension deal. Joyce, 29, is heading into his second arbitration year in 2014, figuring to earn between $3.5 and $4 million. He was down in 2013 by line – .235/.328/.419 – but his BABIP was some 30 points lower than his career average mark. Indeed, his walk rate was up last year (a robust 12.3%), his strikeout rate was down, and his ISO was just about his average mark. If his BABIP rebounds, and he’s platooned, you could be looking at a .275/.360/.475 guy. Not too shabby for a few million bucks.
  • Oswego Chris

    At 30, with a history of injury, too many Red Flags for me regarding Ellsbury

    • Jay

      $150 MILLION for Ellsbury?? With his injury history? Whoever pays that needs their head examined.

      • CubbieBubba

        …so LA?

        • YourResidentJag

          No…more like Seattle.

      • ari gold

        $150M is the new $100M or maybe even $90M.

      • Brains

        That’s just out of control too much for a guy who’s only had two good seasons. It’s going to be Return of JD Drew for whatever poor team pays that much for an injured speedster on the other side of 30.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        Another one of those stupid teams with top 5 payrolls who go to league championships. Idiots.

        • Brains

          If we’re going to go that high for a 30 year old it should be Cano, who’s durable and has good season after good season. Ellsbury is a lot of talent and a lot of hype. Good player, but he needs a good team to protect him when he gets hurt and slows down. He can’t lead.

  • Jbaby

    Tanaka should be the cubs #1 priority and then trade for giancarlo stanton.

    • JB88

      I know Stanton’s numbers scream beast, but the cost to obtain him, his past injury concerns, and the continued development of Bryant and Soler make me less intrigued to go after him, specifically.

      If you are looking for a corner outfielder, I’d be more interested in CarGo, given that I suspect the price to obtain him (given his current contract) would be more palatable than Stanton.

      • CubFan Paul

        Put me down for CarGo too

        • Jose’s Eyelid

          Me 3

      • Nate

        Good defender, left handed batter, young enough, longer contract.


    • Sdcoddi

      Now that the blue jays have foregone the QO, I see the cubs going after josh Johnson on a 1 year deal. He gets to rebuild some value, and the cubs will have another chip to trade part way throughout the season (and Johnson won’t be eligible for a QO next year if that’s the case).

      I also can see the cubs going after Grady Sizemore on a cheap deal to rebuild his value. He’d be another trade piece come July.

  • CubChymyst

    The weak pitching market might make Price a really expensive grab, but it at least makes Samardzija price a little higher as well (if the cubs decide to trade him).

  • Dave

    Am I the only one who thinks a small guarantee/bonus-heavy contract to a Halladay or Santana might be worthwhile? I’d love to have Tanaka, and certainly wouldn’t hate trading for Price, even with the prospects and money it would take to get him and keep him, but one of those former Cy Young winners might be nice to add. Especially Halladay with his allegedly fantastic work ethic.

    • Big Daddy

      I agree. If Baker is worth the risk, why not Santana or Halladay?

      • Danny Ballgame


        • Joycedaddy

          Francisco Liriano pulled an entire 180 this season…..who’s to say that one of Scott Baker, Roy Halladay, or Johan Santana couldn’t do the same next year?

          • On The Farm

            For starters, Santana and Halladay (especially Halladay) are a lot older than Liriano. Baker is a few years older too, but the concerning thing about Halladay and Baker is their decrease in velocity. The fact that these two are struggling to get to the 90s does not really bode well for them. Especially since Doc is 36 and has 2700+ IP. I am not saying they aren’t worth a flyer, but comparing them to a 30 year old pitcher when the other guys are 34 and 36 doesn’t make for a good comparison.

            • cub2014

              if i were doing it my rotation plan would
              be focused on 2015:
              #1 tanaka or go find one (hard to do)
              #2 (maybe 2 #3’s?)
              #3 pick 2 (jackson,shark,wood &arrieta)
              #4 & #5 comes from within the organization
              grimm,vizcaino) This will depend on
              progression of some of these pitching

              So I see Shark as not fitting into 2015
              plans same might go for Jackson (depends
              on what arrieta does this year) he would be
              very flippable in 2015.

  • Jim

    I can’t see the Cubs being real active in the FA market this offseason. You have 3 or 4 position players that you expect to make it to the major league level at some point in 2014. With that, I would guess next offseason might be a better time to evaluate what is needed. I could see the Cubs in on Chris Young or Rafai Davis as RH platoon partners for Sweeney and Schierholtz, but not too much else. The Trade market might be something more to watch for the Cubs this offseason.

  • MightyBear

    Seven years is too long for me. The injuries don’t bother me as the two big ones were flukes and the others are typical of any player over a long season. Now the problem I have is that with rising salaries, is Ellsbury a bargain at say 6/125? I can’t get a handle on salaries now. The fact that Lincecum got 36 million and salaries are going to skyrocket even more after the new CBA is making it difficult to gage.

    • Professor Snarks

      I agree. I don’t care so much about the money, because it’s not mine, but I am concerned about the money if it hurts us in 7 years. It is quite possible in 6 or 7 years we’ll have 2 or 3 star players, like Bryant/Baez who we cant afford to resign because we have 60 million committed to two guys that are either old, like a Elsbury, or used up, like Price. The FO needs to be careful. I just don’t want us to get in the same payroll bind that occured in 2010-2012.

      • CubFan Paul

        “I just don’t want us to get in the same payroll bind that occured in 2010-2012”

        I guess that when you stop committing resources to the major league roster you can call it a payroll bind.

        ’10-’12 happened that way because it was designed to happen that way.

        • Professor Snarks

          Are you saying you want 60 million tied up in salary for players who aren’t worth anything?
          We will never really know what the payroll implications were between 2010-2012 because, in my opinion, Theo wanted to break it down to ground zero, but it is possible the Soriano contract prevented them from doing anything.

          I never said teams shouldn’t take risks with big contracts, they always will. I’m just saying that too many bad contracts will come back and haunt you.

          • CubFan Paul

            “Are you saying you want 60 million tied up in salary for players who aren’t worth anything?”

            No, I’m not sure why you would imply that.

            “We will never really know what the payroll implications were between 2010-2012 because..”

            See Kyle below.

            “I never said teams shouldn’t take risks with big contracts…”

            Neither did I.

      • Kyle

        “. I just don’t want us to get in the same payroll bind that occured in 2010-2012.”

        The best way to avoid a payroll bind like that is to have a consistent pipeline of cost-controlled players and don’t lower payroll.

        Lowering payroll and stopping signing long-term contracts to free agents is effective at avoiding such binds, but the cost to your MLB team is too great.

        • Chad

          I agree with that Kyle, but unless you start with a strong farm system that feeds the ML team you either will have bad contracts to be competitive or a low payroll/bad team. It is highly unlikely that you can sign enough FAs to be competitive and build the farm system at the same time without over-extending yourself. There will just be too many holes to fill. You obviously understand this, but the cubs will begin to fill gaps with FAs once they have fewer gaps that are needed to fill by that method.

          • MichiganGoat

            Yeah having no pipeline of cost controlled prospects regularly contributing while you are signing large contracts that can suffocate you from signing players once that pipeline is running doesn’t make sense. Now when that pipeline is producing then regularly signing players to massive contracts makes sense. Right now the Cubs are in the former and hopefully that pipeline start producing this year.

            • Chad

              I don’t know if I would go as far as saying regularly signing big contracts make sense, but you plug holes where you need to. Sometimes signing a Dioner Navarro is hole plugger, or putting money into keeping your top talent rather than someone else’s FA. In my mind the biggest thing is that the pipeline has to be consistent, can’t be a quick blast of a few guys and then dry up, it has to continue to regularly produce those players (aka Cardinals).

              • Hee Seop Chode

                It only makes sense if you want to win.

                • YourResidentJag

                  It definitely does. That fluid pipeline could take years and by years I mean 6-7. Too long for this fan base, at least most of them.

                  • Luke

                    The Cubs’ prospect pipeline is pretty much complete now. The first wave of what looks like a steady stream hits Triple A this year, and it stretches all the way back to the Caribbean leagues.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      I would say that’s somewhat premature. They need to get ahead of the pipeline and still sign a couple of FAs of value…like Granderson or maybe Kazmir. It would have said Josh Johnson but it appears he would want too much.

                    • cub2014

                      Luke, exactly. Not just hitters but
                      starters as well. AAA-hendricks,
                      cabrera,ramirez, AA-edwards,

                    • YourResidentJag

                      @cub2014..and that’s where the premature part comes into play….the starting pitching.

                    • Luke

                      The existence of the pipeline is independent of whether or not the Cubs sign free agents. But the pipeline is there. At pretty much every level of the organization the Cubs are very likely to have 3 to 6 players who project as future major leagues with a fair number of potential impact players sprinkled in for good measure.

                      That’s about as pipeliney as any farm system ever gets.

                      That doesn’t guarantee that all of those players will pan out, but no farm system pipeline has ever offered anything remotely close to that promise.

                      The best a team can do is assemble groups of players at each level with realistic major league chances and add as many potential impact guys to that mix as they can. And that is exactly what the Cubs have done.

                      That doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to win anything… they aren’t… but the pipeline is there.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Offensively, yes. SP wise….hmmm. Agree with what you’re saying in theory. In actuality, much harder to translate. Absolutely agree with at least 3 impact major leaguers, though. That’s why if there’s a value player now, the Cubs get him, or at least they should.

        • Professor Snarks

          “The best way to avoid a payroll bind like that is to have a consistent pipeline of cost-controlled players and don’t lower payroll.”

          Yes, thus the ‘Plan’

          And if everything goes right with the plan, in 6 or 7 years, Baez and Bryant will be superstars, and will need to be extended. What if the money isn’t there because we owe a 37 yr old Elsbury 30 mil, a 35 yr Price 30 mil to pitch in middle relief.

          I’m just saying we need to be careful

          • MichiganGoat


          • CubFan Paul

            “What if the money isn’t there because [list the extreme].”

            • YourResidentJag

              The renovations keep on dragging.

              • CubFan Paul

                That’s a lot more likely than Theo&Co making a huge free agent signing now that will hurt the team in 6-7 years.

                • YourResidentJag


                • Joycedaddy

                  I have bought into the plan 100%, but it sounds as if the Theo plan is more of a 10 year project than a 5 year project. With a mixture of prospects failing/succeeding, the Cubs pulling off blunders/errors only the Cubs could possibly do, and the hit/bust long-term deals we give established players (EJax, among others) makes this sound like a more dragged out process. Originally, I thought the team could just make/miss the playoffs in 2014 but that seems like a bit of a stretch at this point. Too many of our “Big 5/6” prospects won’t get called up until 2015 anyways (besides perhaps Baez/Bryant) so I just don’t see the playoffs becoming reality until 2015 at the absolute earliest. Then again, “Back to the future 2” predicts that we win it all in 2015 so I think we should all be banking on that.

          • YourResidentJag

            I’m not ready to anoint Baez a superstar. Let’s just see on that one, shall we.

            • Professor Snarks

              The line was “if everything goes right, and Baez and Bryant become superstars’. Definately qualified the superstar thing.

              • YourResidentJag

                The problem is I don’t Bryant needs that line…Baez does.

                • Professor Snarks

                  I love Bryant, but he has only had about 200 pro at bats.
                  To quote a wise man, I say:

                  “Let’s just see on that one, shall we.”

                  • YourResidentJag

                    To quote an even wiser man, “I don’t think that if they had that pick, he would have drafted Baez in that position.”

                    • louis

                      To quote an even wiser wiser man, “I’m too drunk to taste this chicken.”

                    • YourResidentJag


  • Deez

    I see Ellsbury going the way of Michael Bourn. Nobody will pay $100M for a speedy OF w/ a decent bat again.
    Carl Crawford ruined that.
    B.J. Upton just got 5yr/$75M. Look at how that has worked out!?
    Unless 2015 is “our year,” I see us going after the flippable assets again.

  • Rynomite

    Wada is very intriguing. ERA by month: 6.11 in four starts (May), 5.47 in five starts (June), 3.99 in five starts (July), 1.74 in five starts (August). Looks like a guy who was rehabbing TJS and rounded into pretty nice shape. That’s all against AAA competition as well. I’d feel better about taking a (cost-effective) gamble on him than handing Rusin the keys to the rotation.

  • dw8

    Looking like Josh Johnson isn’t getting a qualifying offer. That is all.

    • YourResidentJag

      But Granderson is…so…..

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Like the idea of signing Wada coming off of TJS. His last 5/6 starts at AAA Norfolk his ERA was well under 2.00. It looks like he was regaining control, stamina, and strength. Why not offer a one deal like Maholm had with option for second year. He would provide balance for the rotation as a second lefty in the rotation with Wood.

  • ETS

    Josh Johnson might be an interesting FA pick up for someone.

  • Vince

    How about Tim Hudson?

    • THEOlogical

      Huddy will get a QO from the Braves, if nothing less than a 1 yr contract extension. I’m not so sure he will be worth the 2nd rd pick. I really do like him, but he’s becoming more and more like Oswalt. Plus he’ll want to be on a contender for his last yrs of baseball.

      • Vince

        I read that he didn’t get a qualifying offer and is a free agent now. But you’re right he will probably want to go to a contender

      • bbmoney

        There’s pretty much no chance Hudson gets a QO. At ~$14M that’s $5M more than he made this year and he’s coming off a broken ankle.

  • Edwin

    signing Wada would be ok, I’m just thinking he’s more of a AAA depth kind of signing than anything else. He’d basically be Rodrigo Lopez 2.0.

    • Fishin Phil

      I didn’t much care for version 1.0.

  • Blackhawks1963

    My thoughts….

    1. The contracts dished out to the top free agents are going to be jaw-dropping. The level of insanity is going to be nuts.

    2. Ellsbury goes to Seattle and gets paid $140 M

    3. Choo gets $110 M from somebody

    4, Tanaka goes to the Yankees after they submit a bid that defies all logic. I won’t be surprised to see the winning bid hit $80 M. And THEN they need to sign him to a contract.

    5. Stanton isn’t being traded. No team is going to offer up what it will take in trade to get Stanton.

    6. Price somehow ends up with the Dodgers. And the pricetag to get him is astronomical. Then Price signs a new contract on Lala land that equals the Greinke deal.

    • caryatid62

      It’s not insane. It’s what the market dictates.

  • AdamAE24

    I agree with those earlier who said that

    What about some sort of incentive laden 3 or 4 contract (that adds years and dollars plus bonuses with Innings Pitched/ERA goals) with a 12 mil base for Josh Johnson?

    • Blackhawks1963

      Big gigantic red flag that Toronto didn’t tag Johnson. This is the same Toronto team that is pitching starved. Telegraphs to me that they have little faith in Johnson being a decent pitcher in 2014 and/or that he is severely damaged goods.

      I want zero part of Johnson. We have enough question marks without voluntarily adding another one.

      • willis

        I’m getting there. He was just awful last year and then was shut down, again, with arm problems. There was a timem when I was viewing him as a decent get in this year’s FA market, I’m pretty much over that.

      • AdamAE24

        It seems that the going price for any pitcher who COULD possibly pitch for you is $10 mil.

    • Andrew

      you’re not allowed to have incentives based on ERA or other performance based things. You can do it based on innings pitched but still most incentive-laden deals only have a small portion of the contract linked to incentives.

      • MichiganGoat

        Yeah I can’t find the exact language in the collective bargaining agreement but from here

        “the collective bargaining agreement that bars contracts incentives based on statistical achievements”

        I’m looking for what is allowed, but I no that Gregg got a bonus for “finishing games” vs for saves.

      • Brett

        Correct. The only incentives allowed are based on awards and mere participation (i.e., innings, appearances, games finished, etc.). Also, apparently career marks are allowed.

        • fester30

          I read an article about A-Rod’s career incentives for home runs a while ago. Apparently, he’s allowed incentives for certain career achievements because of the way the language is in the contract. It’s worded as a marketing deal instead of incentives. He gets to share in increased revenue the Yankees receive as a result of certain home run milestones (merchandise, ticket sales, etc.)

  • cubsin

    There’s no way Price would sign for as “little” as Greinke.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Might be right. Greinke got $147 M and Price may well exceed that.

    • Andrew

      ya, Price will get more guaranteed than Greinke but it’s worth noting Greinke got a weird contract in that he can opt out and do Free agency again if he wants. It’s an important distinction because it minimizes the reward on the Dodgers can get on Greinke if he outperforms his contract.

  • Spoda17

    I just don’t get these contracts… have GMs already forgot the deals for Soriano, A-Rod, Puljols, and Lackey, and even Hamilton is looking like really bad contract… Not to mention the many other I didn’t include… it’s year after year of dumb contract decisions…


    • Blackhawks1963

      Hence why I am perfectly fine with the Cubs sitting on the sidelines and focusing instead on the building strategy and youngsters coming up thru the system. We are going to be in a position of great strength within a couple of years. Let the market go batshit crazy around us.

      • caryatid62


        • Funn Dave


          Simply naming a logical fallacy contributes nothing to the discussion and makes it seem like you’re just regurgitating words you heard on the internet & repeating them any time they’re the least bit relevant.

          • SH

            Simply repeating that logical fallacy, one could argue, contributes nothing to the discussion and makes it seem like the person engaging in that fallacy is just regurgitating words he/she heard from Theo Epstein in 2011 & repeating them any time they’re the least bit relevant.

            • DarthHater

              Simply repeating the phraseology of the previous post while substituting your own snarky phrases just makes it seem like the person engaging in the repeating is being an idiot. … D’Oh! 😛

              • Funn Dave

                Ah man I’m so lost….

                • Pat

                  The people responsible for sacking the people responsible for sacking the person responsible for this tangent have been sacked.

          • caryatid62

            The false choice of “it’s either ‘The Plan’ or waste money on free agents” has been repeated enough, and proven fallacious enough times, that it’s not worth arguing with any more. It simply deserves to be pointed out as it gets repeated ad nauseum.

      • brickhouse

        You are only in a position of strength if the youngsters come up and reach their ceiling. If a typical percentage fail and some just are average regulars then you are in bigger trouble and need to spend to correct and have thrown away a number of major league seasons.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Here is a link to success rates by round drafted.

          I only wish the first round would have been broken down even further to maybe groups of 10.

          • DarthHater

            Yea, I suspect the difference between 1 and 30 is a heck of a lot greater than the difference between 30 and 35 or 40.

            • hansman

              Hell, the difference between 1 and 10 is greater than draftee #10 and #900

  • Bill

    The only free agent worth going after is Tanaka.

    • YourResidentJag

      Or arroyo as another “flippable piece” in another ‘flippable” season.

      • cub2014

        i too think the Cubs will sign a couple starters,
        maybe 1-2 flippables. Except it looks like the
        price tag of a 4 or 5 starter has went from 5-8mil
        to 10-15mil. Based on Darvish salary, Tanaka
        will come cheap compared to these flippable guys.
        (Ya, I know the posting fee)

        So if they dont trade Shark and dont sign Tanaka
        you would have a rotation of: Shark, Jackson,
        Wood, Arrieta and 1-2 of these filppers.

        2nd half of next year they are going to take a look at
        Hendricks and again at Rusin so I think a couple of
        the starters will be moved to make room for these
        2 guys.

        • jt

          I hadn’t considered Kazmir at all until I read Jason Power’s posts.
          2013 he had 12 games in which he allowed 4 or more runs but 16 games in which he allowed 2 or fewer. Consider a small improvement in that ratio with a move to the no DH NL and he could fill the need for a 5 cheap 5th starter for a year.

        • Blackhawks1963

          The pool of “flippable” pitchers is less extensive this offseason. Josh Johnson looks like an injury trainwreck. Scott Kazmir believes that 2013 was already his “prove it” year and will convince some team to give him a good contract. Scott Baker probably gets somebody to bite on a two year contract. Bronson Arroyo will probably have little problem getting a 3 year contract if he wants it.

  • Joycedaddy

    The thought of a Matt JOYCE/Nate Schierholtz platoon makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the insides.

    • BWA

      It makes me want to puke.

      • gocatsgo2003

        Why? Dude has had an OPS+ over 100 the past three years (131, 115, 109) and can play in either corner of the outfield.

    • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache


  • Frank

    Here’s my 2 cents not including inflation. Why bother with FA’s that come with ridiculous price tags when you have a few guys on the verge of coming up. (maybe,kinda, who knows) The Cubs have had two crap years, so change directions now. At least give them a chance to see what they can do.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    At some point the Cubs have to stop with the Trade Chip mentality and actually roster useable players

    • cub2014

      johnny, I think they will add a couple of long
      term pieces this winter but it makes sense to
      add flippable starters. Especially this year
      because I think from mid 2014 thru 2015 we
      have pitchers within the organization that will
      easily take these flippable guys place.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    Cubs need 3 Top End Bullpen arms and a 2nd base Power Hitter.
    I believe it’s time to get the youngsters on the field sooner rather than later.
    Bryant Olt Soler Alcantrara come on down!!

  • Brains

    These contract numbers are enormously high, but on the other hand the Cubs are ridiculously shorthanded in every single possible way imaginable for a professional quality team. We have the best AAA team in the NL Central right now, and possibly the worst team in the MLB next year. Something’s gotta give, and it’s probably going to be another scapegoat or two until things get better.

    • Kyle

      I suspect that the “something that has to give” will be the 2014 Cubs’ record.

  • Die hard

    Cubs should kick tires on Brandon Snyder

  • cub2014

    jag, I agree about the FA they need a
    couple of hitters, a #1 starter, a closer
    in the next couple of years to go with
    the kids that may or may not make it.

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