Well, if you were thinking about Marco Estrada as a buy-low candidate to slide into the Cubs’ rotation after this season, you can go back to the drawing board.
The 34-year-old Estrada broke out with the Blue Jays the last few years as a soft-contact superstar, whose peripherals trended up, too. This year has been a disappointment in the results column, but the Blue Jays apparently believed enough in his 2018 season to sign him up right now on a $13 million, one-year extension (Morosi). It’s a perfectly good deal for both sides, and one that would have looked fine to me for the Cubs, depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out.
This year’s coming free agent class is set to be a decent one – better than last year, but nowhere close to the post-2018 landslide that looms – and the Cubs will be in the market for at least two starting pitchers. With Jose Quintana now in the fold, it’s entirely possible that the Cubs are going to focus on the middle tier of the market and/or short-term buy-low opportunities, so Estrada going off the market is a minor bummer in that respect.
Jake Arrieta will probably be the class of the market, and it’s not clear just how aggressive the Cubs will be in trying to retain the righty who broke back out this year, dominated in the second half, and propped his payday back up into the substantial four to six-year range. Previously, the Cubs had reportedly been looking at four-year-type extensions, while Arrieta and his agent Scott Boras were more in that six-or-more range.
As things stand, assuming John Lackey does not return on a short-term deal, the Cubs will be looking to fill two rotation spots in the offseason (together with Quintana, Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks). One of those spots may go to Mike Montgomery, but the Cubs figure to add starting depth in any case.