With January just a couple days away, you can figure we’ll finally start hearing regularly about the top free agent on the market, Max Scherzer. For a variety of reasons – the price tag, the agent, the trade market, the draft pick compensation, and the Jon Lester chase principal among them – it was always likely that Scherzer would not sign before January.
The first step in sorting out the Scherzer market is going to be clarifying the teams that are actually in the race for the ace righty who is reportedly seeking a $200 million deal.
Three recent articles – from Ken Davidoff, from Jon Heyman, and from Nick Cafardo – attempt to do just that, and, perhaps to your surprise, each lists the Cubs among the many potential suitors. Before you start turning the wheels in your greedy mind, understand that each of the authors connects the Cubs only in a speculative way. Maybe the Cubs have the money. Maybe Scherzer would be awesome in the NL Central. Maybe the Cubs would be great with Scherzer. It’s a lot of maybes, and there are a lot of teams to whom you could ascribe many of the same things.
What we know is that, prior to landing Jon Lester, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein made it very plain that adding two huge free agent pitching contracts in a single offseason is something he “couldn’t imagine” occurring (CSN). Maybe circumstances change or ownership decides to go above-and-beyond for some reason. That doesn’t seem likely, and it may not even be advisable, given the financial realities of the organization, the risks associated with nine-figure pitching contracts, and the abundance of high-end pitching due to hit the market over the next 15 months. I suppose you can’t say it’s absolutely impossible, but that’s why I think Epstein put it best: it’s just not something I can imagine as plausible.
So, until and unless there is a credible, sourced rumor about the Cubs actually actively engaging Scherzer’s camp in talks (and not just a thin, Scott Boras rumor about the Cubs checking in), you can safely ignore any and all mentions of the Cubs and Scherzer. It’s not in the cards.
I remain of the mind that the Yankees make too much sense for Scherzer – despite their protestations – for it not to happen eventually. Jon Morosi has an interesting take on that, drawing some parallels to the Mark Teixeira free agency six years ago.