Over the weekend, the Chicago Cubs front office was fairly clear in its message about what’s to come this offseason: their door is open to additional moves, but they are not seeking out any other significant deals at this time.
Entering the offseason, the Cubs clearly desired to add a younger, cost-controlled starting pitcher, not only for the 2016 season, but also beyond. However, the Cubs were able to add John Lackey on a very reasonable two-year deal, and picked up Adam Warren in a trade with the Yankees. While neither move was precisely what we had in mind when thinking about “cost-controlled younger starter,” the two additions did serve to mitigate any urgency the Cubs might have otherwise had to go full bore on a trade for a starting pitcher (which was nice, given, for one example, how enormously high the price for Shelby Miller wound up being).
And yet the rumors keep popping up. Ever after those other moves, and even after the Cubs have indicated no other significant deals are coming.
Specifically, there were rumors as recently as last week about the Cubs and Rays still being involved in discussions about a young a cost-controlled starter like Jake Odorizzi.
Now, Nick Cafardo adds a little more smoke, writing that there are still many trades that could be made before Spring Training, and Cubs/Rays leads off his discussion. While the tone is mostly speculative, it’s awfully specific, noting that the two sides line up for a deal – Rays pitching, Cubs hitting – and mentioning names like Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Javier Baez, and Jorge Soler. Cafardo points out, as you know, that the Cubs see a great deal of value in Baez’s versatility and Soler’s power. Still, Cafardo argues that the Cubs could stand to add a young, controllable arm as they make a run this year.
As was the case last week, this bears monitoring. I don’t see a scenario where the Cubs make a deal for one of the Rays’ starters (and/or a reliever and/or a defensive outfielder) and we’re left scratching our heads about how the front office could make such a crazy deal. The team is too good as presently constructed to do anything dramatic, and guys like Baez and Soler are important to the 2016 team, to say nothing of their huge potential future value.
But these reports aren’t just coming out of nowhere. Clearly, there’s a mutuality of interest here. Maybe that means a deal comes together now, but maybe it instead means there’s a deal at midseason, or maybe even next offseason.
Speaking more generally this weekend, Cubs Assistant GM Shiraz Rehman noted that sometimes a trade doesn’t come together until a year or two after discussions about certain players first take place. Maybe the Cubs keep tabs on Cobb this year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and there is another conversation after the season. Maybe the Cubs keep asking about Odorizzi, and a deal comes together at midseason.