Over at FanGraphs, Kiley McDaniel has an extensive update on the big names in the 2015-16 IFA class (i.e., international youngsters who are subject to the international bonus pool rules), which is when the Chicago Cubs will finally have the handcuffs off and can spend freely again.
… but maybe they’re not going to? Remember, the penalty for overspending is now much harsher than it was when the Cubs did it last year. Now, teams who blow their budget are subject to two years of restrictions, with the inability to spend more than $300,000 on any individual player (meaning that you’re out of the mix for the biggest names). Are the Cubs having second thoughts about blowing the budget, as McDaniel has previously indicated they might?
Well, according to McDaniel, the biggest name to which the Cubs were previously connected – Dominican outfielder Starling Heredia – is now being connected most heavily to the Dodgers. That not only sucks, but is also very plausible, given that we were just talking about how the Dodgers, having not gotten Yoan Moncada, might be in the midst of a total 2015/16 blitz.
Now, the Cubs are not the top name for any of the top five prospects on McDaniel’s list, which could call into question the viability of trying a “blow the budget” strategy, given that it’s only worth doing if you can really, really, really blow it out.
Of course, if Cuban pitchers Yadier Alvares and Vladimir Gutierrez wind up in the 2015/16 class, there are suddenly two more big names on whom the Cubs could compete, plus there are plenty more big prospects out there besides the top handful that are being discussed right now (even McDaniel cautions that there is a team not mentioned in the article with six commitments totaling $7.5 million). Further, even on Heredia, McDaniel is not reporting that he has an agreement with the Dodgers.
That is all to say, it’s probably still a touch too early to “worry” about anything right now. We don’t know what the Cubs’ preferred approach is going to be, and, indeed, it might be dependent on how certain preliminary dominoes fall. Or, heck, maybe the Cubs have recently become enamored of the 2016/17 class, and they don’t want to risk not being in the mix for the top players then.
We’ll see. But, yeah, July 2 is shaping up to be a very exciting day, one way or another.