Chicago Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer met with the media last evening after qualifying offer decisions were in, and you can read some of their accounts here, here, here, and here, among other places.
Some of Hoyer’s remarks, together with my thoughts …
- Although Hoyer praised the contributions of Dexter Fowler and his impact to the 2015 Cubs (CSN), he stopped short of making any proclamations about the center fielder returning next year, instead saying only that they’d meet with his agent. The Cubs gave Fowler a qualifying offer, but that will be declined. In essence, then, it would cost the Cubs a draft pick – the one they’d otherwise get when Fowler signs elsewhere – to sign Fowler, though I suspect the greater barrier to a deal is going to be the four or five years Fowler could command on the market. That might not be the best use of the Cubs’ resources, given their needs for pitching.
- Speaking of which, Hoyer said that the Cubs would look to add “multiple pitchers” this offseason, but he caveated that in two ways: (1) common sense will guide just how aggressively they add (so, not that any of you were thinking it, but the Cubs won’t be adding a David Price and a Jordan Zimmermann or Zack Greinke); and (2) the adding of multiple pitchers will occur at “various levels of the organization” (so, that doesn’t necessarily mean the team will add two starting pitchers to the big league roster (though I think you can bet on it, even if one is more in the mold of a reclamation type)).
- And speaking of those pursuits, Hoyer did confirm that, as the team turns the corner into a competitive window, the way they’ll think about potentially losing a draft pick in order to sign a free agent will change, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Draft picks are always great to have – and the spending pool associated with them – but if they must be sacrificed for upgrades to the big league roster when those upgrades can have the greatest impact, then so be it. And it doesn’t hurt that the Cubs pick so low in the first round – losing the 28th overall pick is a fundamentally different consideration from losing the 11th overall pick.
- As you might expect, Hoyer was not about to spill the beans on just how much financial might the Cubs do or do not have this offseason, saying only generically that the Cubs have the ability to fill the holes they need to fill. I know it’s a frustrating thing for fans who want to know whether David Price and other moves are even plausible right now, but it simply doesn’t serve the front office’s interests for anyone to know what they can do. Offering you my own informed speculation: the Cubs have the flexibility to make any single move they deem appropriate, and likely have the ability to make any combination of moves that would modestly increase payroll over last year. They do not, I suspect, have the ability to go nuts on a series of moves that would significantly increase payroll, however. At least not yet. Revenue is increasing every year, and the attendance spike associated with the competitive 2015 season will help. But the real weight of the Cubs’ anticipated financial strength will not show up until we get a little closer to 2019 – the final year of their current TV contracts (and likely the final year that the artificial restraints associated with the original purchase of the team cannot be overcome).