In the past couple weeks, it became more and more clear to me – I’m talking within my own gut – that Russell Martin was the singular best fit, in terms of free agents, for the Chicago Cubs. Since he’s not coming, I won’t belabor the boxes he checked, but, when you consider the wealth of pitching options out there (because, yes, impact pitching is the Cubs’ top need), getting Martin this offseason would have been perfect.
But he’s going to the Blue Jays. On the heels of reports that Martin could sign a very palatable four-year, $64 million deal with the Cubs, Toronto blew things out of the water to get the guy they wanted: five years and $82 million, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Do I lament the Cubs not going to that level, specifically, to get Martin? I don’t. Am I bummed in a general sense that, however high they were willing to go, it wasn’t enough to get Martin? Yes. Does this kill the Cubs’ offseason? No way. There’s money to be spent, and good players on which it can be spent.
And, moreover, there are genuinely intriguing options out there in the trade market behind the plate, like Miguel Montero and Jason Castro, just to name a couple. Or maybe the Cubs just carry on with Welington Castillo, and sign a superfluous backup like a David Ross, and dedicate their upgrades elsewhere.
Speaking of which …
I sure did want the Cubs to take a serious look at Jason Heyward. Since Justin Upton doesn’t want to come to the Cubs, and since the Braves were pretty clearly going to move someone, there was a lot of sense in the right deal for Heyward. He upgrades the outfield – one of the few spots at which the Cubs could bring in an upgrade without blocking a young player – and gives the Cubs interesting options going forward.
As with Martin, I won’t belabor it, because Heyward is going to the Cardinals. He was traded today, together with reliever Jordan Walden, for young pitcher Shelby Miller (whom the Cardinals seemed to hint, by their actions, was broken the last couple years), and interesting low-level pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins. Walden, 27, is a very good reliever who has a couple arbitration years left. And you know about Heyward. With the sad passing of Oscar Taveras, outfield was a clear need for the Cardinals, and they picked up a guy who might be the best defensive outfielder in baseball, and who still has plenty of upside in his bat. I have no doubt that this trade improved the Cardinals quite a bit for 2015.
Do I lament the Cubs not getting Heyward, specifically? I don’t. Am I bummed in a general sense that, now knowing that he was clearly going to be traded, the Cubs couldn’t land him, and he wound up going to the Cardinals? Yes. Does this kill the Cubs’ offseason and/or guarantee the Cardinals success in 2015? No way. There are other outfield options out there, and the Cubs don’t necessarily have to do their upgrading in the outfield.
All in all, this morning has been a double gut punch for Cubs fans. I can’t sugarcoat that.
But I can tell you that it’s only mid-November, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and the Cubs have plenty of bait. Even as I’m disappointed in this moment, I’m not worried about what’s to come. This front office is smart, is ready to turn the corner, and always has options in mind. By tomorrow, maybe I’ll even be excited to think about what they might be.