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Cubs Depth is a Difference-Maker, About that Martinez Extension, Coghlan, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

We’re having some electrical work done at our house today, so I’m currently tethering my phone to my laptop and watching the batteries on both trickle down before I’m gonna have to go work at a Panera or something.

Type more quickly, Brett …

  • I think most folks would agree that, on paper, the class of the NL right now are the Cubs, Dodgers, and Nationals. More than that, I think most would agree that the Cubs and Dodgers look awfully close to each other in total talent, and then the Nationals are a relatively distant third. With that in mind, I found this analysis by Dave Cameron at FanGraphs especially interesting, especially the way he sets it up: by noting that if you look only at the top 10 players on each of those three teams, they’re basically all equally good by the projections for 2017 (the Cubs have about a 1.5 WAR edge on each of the Dodgers and Nationals). But, of course, teams do not have 10-man rosters, which is why, it turns out, that the Cubs and Dodgers surpass the Nationals with ease – it’s the quality depth. The Dodgers have it largely on the pitching side, and the Cubs have it largely on the positional side. The Nationals have it on no side.

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  • As we’ve seen every year since time immemorial, “depth” players not only contribute here and there throughout the season, but some of those players are thrust into starting roles because of injury or ineffectiveness ahead of them. We often get caught up noting the Cubs’ lack of step-in-and-fill-a-role depth on the starting pitching front, but probably don’t balance that enough with smiling nods about how reasonably well-covered they are on the positional front. Consider that, because of their extreme positional versatility and upper-level positional prospect depth, the Cubs could suffer an injury at any position – literally any position – and immediately insert another starting-caliber player. No, the sub wouldn’t necessarily be as good as the player lost, but it’s going to be a big league-caliber player, much better than replacement-level, one way or another.
  • The Cardinals signed Carlos Martinez to a long-term, very team-friendly extension, and Michael laid out the implications of that deal yesterday (good and bad). Craig Edwards writes at FanGraphs today about just how team-friendly that deal is, potentially costing Martinez upwards of $100 million in exchange for current security.
  • That said, there is a reason these deals get signed, and that “current security” has a whole lot of value, especially for a young man who has seen his friend Oscar Tavares die so young in the Dominican Republic (and then Yordano Ventura just a couple weeks ago). No one should hold death over a player as a risk to be confronted when waiting for free agency, but it does underscore the uncertainty of the future. Player injuries, especially for pitchers, are a very real and regular concern, and although Martinez could have secured $4 million in arbitration this year, and gone two more years through the process before reaching free agency, who knows what happens in this year? Maybe Martinez’s shoulder gives out. Maybe his performance simply declines significantly. The other thing about the extension to keep in mind, as reported by Derrick Goold: Martinez and his agent approached the Cardinals about getting a deal done. It’s possible, then, that they really, really wanted the long-term security no matter what, even if it meant an “under-market” extension (whatever that is for a player in his particular situation – there aren’t a lot of comps for this kind of deal in the first year of arbitration, giving up two to four years of free agency).

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  • New Spring Training caps/logos/etc. are out today! Many good ones, in my humble opinion, but I’m especially loving the Cubs cap:

  • And the Mariners cap:

  • You can see the rest there at BIF, and if you want to do some shopping, check out the collections here at Fanatics and here at the MLB Shop. We’ve got a relationship with those lovely sites, so when you do your shopping there via our links, it helps support BN.
  • As Luis noted in the MLBits, Chris Coghlan has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, which reminds me:


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  • The World Series Trophy is taking a tour of the Cubs’ farm system:

  • Check out who was on TV, rockin’ it:

It’s a light time on Cubs rumors for sure, but I did get a chance to write up a pretty significant Bears trade rumor at The Ten-Yard Line (GAROPPOLO!).


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.