Although the Jordan Zimmermann to Cubs rumor was quickly shot down, the Nationals’ openness to dealing their free-agent-to-be ace has not been. In fact, it’s come up more than once, and quite recently.
That openness – which includes fellow free-agent-to-be Doug Fister, too – has been joined by the Tigers, who are reportedly considering dealing Rick Porcello (another free-agent-to-be), and all of it is tied to the idea that the Nats or Tigers could deal a short-term pitcher while signing someone like Max Scherzer to a long-term deal. The potential impact to the Cubs here is obvious, and, now that the Red Sox have gone spend crazy on the positional side, there’s an added layer of relevance involving possible trades with the Red Sox, the Jon Lester pursuit, a Cole Hamels trade, etc. It’s all interrelated.
And, it turns out, I’m not the only one speculating about the Nats and Tigers wanting to make a trade and then sign a big free agent, with the Cubs mixed in there as a possible trade partner. Peter Gammons is wondering about it, too, and he’s including David Price’s name while he’s at it:
“Logical, but still in the idea stage,” was what one Cubs official responded to my theory that Mike Rizzo would sign Max Scherzer in Washington and trade Zimmerman, possibly to the Cubs. Ibid to a Tiger official when asked if Detroit might re-sign Scherzer and deal David Price, possibly to the Cubs.
Logical, but still in the idea stage. I’ll take that.
What I wonder, though, is how logical it is from the Cubs‘ perspective, especially if the price in trade on guys like Zimmermann or Price – great pitchers, but who are under control for just one year, and a pricey year at that – is very high. How much should you really be willing to give up in trade for one year of a really good pitcher, primarily in the hopes that you can then sign him to a market-rate extension? These guys absolutely have value, don’t get me wrong. I just go back and forth in my mind whether it’s worth parting with an elite prospect to get one of them. I suspect that it’s probably not, especially given the volume of available pitching over the next 15 months.
But if the Cubs have a particular affinity for these guys? Above and beyond any other option on the market in the coming months? And if the price is, perhaps, a collection of very good prospects/players, but not one of the Cubs’ true immediate impact types?
As I’ve said – I enjoy this discussion, even if it’s just in the “idea stage.” It’s the kind of thing that could take a while to play out, by the way, because of all of the related interrelated stories, including when guys like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer and James Shields sign, whether Kenta Maeda becomes available (and how he’s viewed), what other trade options come on the market, etc.