Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureTomorrow is a big day, as final decisions on options – player, team, mutual – are due, as are qualifying offer decisions. Those options decisions have been trickling out this week, but I’ll look to round the most notable ones when they’re all in. And then after tomorrow, we head into full free agency …

  • Among the eight teams “possibly interested” in Jeff Samardzija, Dan Hayes lists the Cubs. Although he didn’t have his best season in 2015, I can’t help but wonder if Samardzija could get back to the excellent pitcher he became under the tutelage of the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure before he was traded in 2014. He’ll receive a qualifying offer tomorrow from the White Sox, though, so the soon-to-be 31-year-old righty will cost a first rounder to sign. We’ll likely take a look at Samardzija more closely before the offseason is up, but not too hard to project a bounce back when you look at his peripherals in 2015.
  • In writing about the team’s plans for the offseason, Patrick Mooney notes that David Price is “very much interested” in coming to Chicago to join the Cubs. The questions, of course, are whether he’s take-a-little-less-money interested, and/or are the Cubs $200 million interested. Michael wrote about Price and the Cubs earlier today in a lengthy look.

  • In the same piece, Mooney mentions that the Cubs could try to move Jason Hammel, presumably to open up payroll (he stands to make $9 million in 2016, with potentially another $2 million coming on the buyout of a 2017 option ($10 million)) and a rotation spot. Depending on how aggressive the Cubs are in the trade market and pitching-rich free agent market, I suppose I could see them seeing what’s out there. But, if Hammel can get healthy in the offseason, I’m still of the mind that he’s a quality back-end starter (with the potential to pitch like a front-three guy for long stretches of the season). Add pitchers? Absolutely. But I’d like to see the Cubs hanging onto Hammel if at all possible in the process, especially because there’s a chance he’s still useful in 2017, too, for a relatively inexpensive price.
  • Among Tim Kurkjian’s top offseason storylines to watch, he mentions the Cubs’ possible paths, including trading young positional talent for guys like Sonny Gray or Chris Sale. I doubt the Cubs can go quite that far, but that won’t stop folks from getting all riled up. For some reason, no pitcher seems to get Cubs fans quite as irrational as Chris Sale. (For the record: no, I don’t see a trade involving Sale and the Cubs happening. In my estimation, the realistic return it would take to net Sale is not something the Cubs are going to be comfortable with.)
  • Other folks like to dream on Gray, but Billy Beane recently told Peter Gammons in a relatively frank way that he has a hard time seeing the A’s trading Gray because of the need to field a competitive team. Is that just exec speak? Sure, partially. And did he rule it out? No, he didn’t. But the undertone is that it would take a haul of immediately-impactful pieces to get Gray, and more than off-set the loss of his arm. Could the Cubs do that? Again, sure. Would it be the right move? Not necessarily.

  • After picking up his option for 2016, the Red Sox could shop starter Clay Buchholz – who can be incredibly good when he’s healthy – according to Nick Cafardo … though his colleague Peter Abraham seems to think the Red Sox should be holding onto their starters, not dealing them.
  • A reminder that, among Padres’ needs: long-term shortstop. Among their chips: pitching.
  • Mike Petriello writes about three of the toughest qualifying offer decisions in his view: Denard Span, Brett Anderson, and Marco Estrada. I doubt Estrada makes his way onto the Cubs’ radar, but Anderson and Span are possibilities (the latter has a write-up here), so following those decisions tomorrow will be very interesting. Petriello seems to think that all three players should get an offer, all things considered. If Span does receive a qualifying offer, that might take him off of the Cubs’ table of options.
  • Speaking of tough but intriguing qualifying offer decisions, Dennis Lin reports that the Padres are leaning toward giving Ian Kennedy a qualifying offer, which, nooooo. If they do, he may well take it. Even if he rejects it, having to give up a first round pick to sign Kennedy is not all that palatable.
  • John Lackey will probably also get a qualifying offer from the Cardinals, and he’s going to be a really interesting one to follow. He’s older (37), but the way he re-invented himself in the second half last season is incredibly intriguing, and had the look of a guy who could be very effective for several more years.

  • I didn’t realize it until I’d reached the end here, but there’s a whole lot of discussion about the “next tier” starting pitchers in this piece. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Cubs have the resources to pursue the top tier arms in free agency, and they may well do so successfully. But the next tier is so rich with intriguing options that there could be huge value to be gained by exploring that group in free agency (and then, perhaps, trying to trade for a younger impact starter, and using other free agent funds on the positional side). It’s not about going cheap or anything like that; it’s simply about taking advantage of the opportunities the market provides, and allocating resources wisely.

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