A wild Tyson Ross appeared!
Over the weekend, Bruce Levine reported that the Cubs had free agent starter Tyson Ross visit Wrigley Field for a walk-around. (That report came on his Inside the Clubhouse show on 670 the Score, but the replay audio is not yet available. You can read more on Levine’s comments here at CCO.)
Apparently, Ross (a somewhat surprise free-agent after being non-tendered by the Padres in November), had a tour of the new facilities at Wrigley Field, saw the team’s plans for the old ballpark, and even toured the city of Chicago.
Similarly, the Cubs reportedly used the visit to take a tour of Ross’ medicals and examine where he is in his recovery/rehab from October surgery (thoracic outlet syndrome). Although it’s hard to justify this type of meeting if conversations weren’t really getting serious, it is worth noting that players do this and then go on to sign with other teams every winter. Together with Levine’s recent report that the Cubs were in on Ross even before his non-tender by the Padres, yes, this is a pretty good sign.
But that’s not even all of it.
Levine shared several more details on his radio show Saturday, including the types of offer the Cubs are weighing right now (for Ross). Per Levine, they’re considering a two-year offer with a club option for a third season, or just a straight-forward two-year offer. The presumption there being that by adding the option year, Ross would get more over the first two seasons (because he would be giving up his quicker reentrance into free agency). According to Levine, the Cubs would rather not sign Ross to a one-year contract, given the risk of paying for his rehab, but getting next to nothing in return (a recent example: Scott Baker).
To that end, the Cubs will have some competition (we recently heard about the Rangers’ interest in Ross, for one example), and herein lies the rub. Even if Ross would prefer to go to the Cubs, he may prefer (even more) to sign a one-year deal with any team. That way, he could theoretically reestablish himself, before reentering the market next offseason as a 30-year-old, healthy, free-agent starter – who could then sign with anyone (including the Cubs!) for much more.
Obviously, Ross could also struggle to get healthy in 2017, never fully recover, and not get a Major League contract at all next offseason … so it really depends how much he wants to gamble on himself, and how much the Cubs are willing to roll the dice on a multi-year deal. The Cubs will have starting pitcher needs beyond 2017, so I’m sure that inking a healthy Ross to a multi-year deal right now is a mighty attractive prospect. But, then, it’s going to be very hard to know for sure just how healthy he is until well into the 2017 season.
If Ross really was taking the tour at Wrigley, I’d say that’s a mighty good sign for those of us hoping the two sides can come together on a deal. At a minimum, there is serious consideration being given.
The Cubs have a glaring need at the back of the rotation, and a reclamation arm like Ross could be the perfect early or midseason addition to the roster. As Brett mentioned in the Bullets earlier today, the Cubs’ fifth starter right now is Mike Montgomery – and he’s far from a sure thing, with no strong reinforcements behind him – so they need all the arms they can get.