Among the things Kaplan is hearing, together with some of my initial thoughts:
- Despite earlier reports to the contrary, Kaplan hears that David Price’s first choice is not Cubs – it’s to stay with Blue Jays, and the Blue Jays might be willing to pony up the cash to do it. From my perspective, the Jays have been able to retain/add pitching in a cost-effective way (Marco Estrada, Jesse Chavez), and it’s not inconceivable that they could have the firepower left to bring back Price. Indeed, that seems like a pretty good idea given the age of their core – they could have a few more serious cracks at this thing before they could see declines/departures. From the Cubs’ perspective, I have always questioned whether they would have the ability and desire to put $200 million into another post-30 arm at this time, when resources are still relatively limited. That $200 million could conceivable go to fill multiple holes, and spreading out the risk. There might not be as much upside in getting guys like Jeff Samardzija and John Lackey, but they would cost much less (combined), and at least then it’s not all riding on one precious, destructible arm.
- Speaking of Samardzija and Lackey, Kaplan says those rumors are legit, and the Cubs are in on them. The rub, of course, with Lackey is that the preference might be for a two-year deal, when he’s presumably going to seek at least three years. The rub with Samardzija is that there’s a ton of interest out there, even if he’s interested in coming back to the Cubs. The money would still have to make sense for him.
- Still on the pitching side, the Cubs are looking to try and land a guy like Carlos Carrasco or Shelby Miller or Julio Teheran, according to Kaplan, which is not a surprise. We’ve heard those rumors for a while, and the front office has been pretty transparent about the possibility that they may have to move some of their positional talent to add a cost-controlled, impact starter. And, as awesome as I think David Price is, if you’re asking me whether I’d rather see the Cubs go his route, or go with a Samardzija/Lackey type, make a trade for another guy, and then use the remaining dollars for a positional player … I lean that way.
- Speaking of which, perhaps the most notable thing Kaplan said is that, yes, the Cubs are talking to Jason Heyward. The big caveat, though, is that, from what Kaplan is hearing, the team won’t be going up into the $170-$180 million range where many think the bidding could go. Instead, if the Cubs could get Heyward on a shorter deal – say, five years and $100 million – then they could consider using him in center field. I am very much in on the Cubs pursuing Heyward *IF* they believe he can play an effective – above average, even – center field in 2016 and 2017. If Kaplan’s sources are correct, though, I have a hard time seeing the Cubs actually landing Heyward, because, even if he wanted a shorter deal, he’s likely to be able to get a six, seven, eight year deal with an opt-out built in after four years – then he gets to have his cake and eat it, too.
- Kaplan also said that the Cubs have talked to teams to see if they could move Miguel Montero. I was pretty surprised to hear that, and it’s something that Theo Epstein essentially denied in his season-ending press conference. While I could understand moving Montero from a financial perspective, he was a brilliant catcher last year, was decent at the plate, and is the only thing standing between the Cubs and having to start Kyle Schwarber behind the plate three or four out of every five games. It’s possible he could get there eventually, but I just don’t think he’s there. For me, I want Montero to be the Cubs’ primary catcher again in 2016. I fear the impact on the pitching staff if he’s not. I suppose it’s possible that the Cubs could move Montero and still bring in another catcher, but that’s so many moving pieces. And, well, I just really like the job Montero did.