I’m fighting against the instinct to read too much into it, either because I could have misheard or because the comments were extemporaneous and may not mean anything, but, on Friday, when President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein discussed the Cubs’ pitching depth and back-end rotation options for 2015, he mentioned quite a few guys … but not Tsuyoshi Wada.
I offer that only as a framing device for a post in which I’d like to discuss Wada, because, again, it really might not have meant anything. But it is true that Wada is no lock to be on the Cubs next year, either by virtue of the club declining his $5 million option, or by virtue of him being traded. With the Cubs looking to add two starting pitchers this offseason, they could enter into Spring Training with just one rotation spot available behind Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, and the two outside additions. That means Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, Eric Jokisch, Dallas Beeler, and Dan Straily would all be fighting with incumbents Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson (if they’re still around) for that last spot.
And I haven’t even gotten to Wada yet.
That is all to say that I’m coming around a bit to the idea that, despite his solid debut, the Cubs might not be best served using $5 million to keep Wada in the fold. Instead, the best approach might be to shop Wada around as a $5 million pitcher, and if there are teams out there that value him as such, the Cubs can pick up his option within 5 days of the end of the World Series, and then trade him.
Otherwise, they may as well decline Wada’s option and see if he’d like to stick around as depth for less than $5 million (indeed, Bruce Miles suggests that’s what the Cubs might prefer to do). I’ve got to believe Wada can do better than a couple million bucks out there, but, then again, the mid-tier pitching market is extraordinarily robust this offseason. Of course, if the 33-year-old Wada doesn’t find what he’s looking for in the States, he could always try to go back to Japan and cash in.
In the end, the revelation that the Cubs are very serious about adding two starters externally this offseason makes it very hard to see Wada as a member of the Cubs come Spring Training.
That said, let’s see what happens in that week after the World Series. I can’t help but wonder if there will be some trade rumors, if nothing else.