Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

james shields padresA quick hit pass on the many Cubs-related pitching rumors making the rounds …

  • In a couple good local reads about the Cubs’ ongoing search for pitching, each of Patrick Mooney and Mark Gonzales give off the vibe that the Cubs’ approach to adding pitching this offseason will avoid the David Price/Zack Greinke tier in favor of other options. To be sure, neither flatly rules out the Cubs pursuing David Price, it just seems like the less likely move at the end of the day. [UPDATE: Indeed, Price has reportedly agreed to sign with the Red Sox.]
  • That squares with our sense around here, and my thinking about where the Cubs are right now has always pushed me in favor of them adding two starting pitchers – either two mid-tier types or a mid-tier type and a trade target, if the Cubs can pull it off – and having decent money leftover to spend on a positional player in the outfield, rather than consolidating all of that spending into a single arm. With virtually no quality big-league ready starting pitching depth in the upper minors, the Cubs have to do what they can this offseason to lengthen the rotation. Yes, Price would make the Cubs’ rotation better. But his addition could also make them more vulnerable to ugly churn if there are injuries. Adding two quality starters, to me, over the course of a full season, probably does more to help the Cubs (and also reduces the downside risk, and preserves flexibility, a few years down the road).
  • Bruce Levine writes about the Cubs’ pursuit of starting pitching, and he, too, sees the Cubs as more likely to add a couple starters – a mid-tier free agent and a trade piece – than one big-timer. One interesting addition in his article is the suggestion that the Cubs could talk to the Padres about James Shields. We know that Shields was a Cubs target last offseason, and then there were some rumors at the Trade Deadline, but the clear problem with Shields is that his backloaded contract now looks brutally bad, and he’s coming off a year in San Diego where his performance and velocity were both way down. At 34 next season, you have to wonder how much Shields is going to give you. Certainly, the Cubs couldn’t give up anything of real value to acquire him AND they would have to have the Padres eat a huge chunk of his remaining contract. Could Shields be a solid 4/5 for the Cubs for a couple years? Sure. But it’s very hard to see a deal coming together.

  • Other Padres starters like Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner seem slightly more likely, but¬†Gonzales’s piece referenced above also includes a note that any momentum on a Tyson Ross deal was tempered by the huge return the Padres got for Craig Kimbrel. If that’s what they want again in a Ross deal, it’s not going to come from the Cubs.
  • If not Tyson, what about his brother Joe? Nick Cafardo talks about the 22-year-old righty possibly being made available by the Nationals to upgrade their roster elsewhere, which would be mighty interesting. It seems unlikely the Nats would actually move Ross, what with both Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister departing, but … yeah. He’s intriguing, to say the least.

  • Mooney’s piece referenced above also mentions that there could be a four-year, $75 million floor on a Jeff Samardzija¬†deal, which is a healthy commitment for a guy coming off one of the worst seasons in baseball. I’m a big fan of the Cubs reuniting with Samardzija, but 4/$75M starts to get into a range where I’m not sure you’re taking a calculated risk to capture upside so much as actually paying for that upside as though it’s guaranteed to happen.
  • Jon Heyman surprised some folks – including me – with this tweet:

  • “Received interest” is vague enough to keep this in the realm of possibility, but beyond the normal checking-in-on-everyone stuff, it seems very unlikely that the Cubs will seriously pursue Johnny Cueto, especially after he rejected a six-year, $120 million offer from the Diamondbacks reportedly in search of something closer to $140 to $160 million.
  • I actually believe this to be true with respect to David Price, but comfort/NL/etc. is almost certainly not going to make up for tens of millions of dollars in difference:


  • And on the other big arm on the market:

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