Late last week, we took a closer look at MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 Free Agent Power Rankings and Contract Predictions, pointing out, most notably, that the Cubs were tied to free agent starter Yu Darvish and reliever Addison Reed.
Earlier today, Jim Duquette underwent a similar project at MLB.com, and, like MLBTR, he tied one free agent starter and reliever to the Cubs. Different names, though: while Duquette does believe the Cubs will be involved in the upper echelon of free agent pitching, he sees Rays right-hander Alex Cobb and outgoing Cubs closer Wade Davis as the better fits.
On Cobb: “After posting a 3.66 ERA over a career-high 179 1/3 innings in 2017, Cobb enters free agency at the perfect time. The right-hander got stronger as the year progressed, recording a 3.14 ERA in his final 12 starts.”
To be sure, Duquette lists each of the Rangers, Phillies, Orioles, and Yankees as potentially interested parties – and there are probably a half dozen more – but believes it’ll be the Cubs who come out on top. As we know, this is hardly the first time Cobb has been connected to the Cubs, if not, for many other reasons, because they just hired his long-time pitching coach. As for a potential contact, Duquette suggests that Cobb could command something close to whatever Lance Lynn gets.
But, in another divergence from MLBTR, those estimates very wildly:
Lance Lynn at MLB.com: 5 years/$80M
Lance Lynn at MLBTR: 4 years/$56M
Interestingly, Cobb’s projected contract at MLB Trade Rumors (4 years/$48 million) is close to their projection for Lynn (seen above), which isn’t all that surprising given that both guys are 30-year-old contact managers who just had a very successful return from Tommy John surgery. Keep that parallel in mind as the offseason unfolds.
As for the relief help, Duquette seems to believe the Cubs will re-up with 2017 closer Wade Davis on a deal similar to Mark Melancon’s four-year/$62 million contract from a year ago.
Although Davis has the raw stats of a player who’s earned that type of contract (at least, given how much Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen got last winter), I’m not sure I see the Cubs going that route. Remember, Davis had some pretty significant struggles midway through 2017, overall had much worse results this year than the past three, and multiple arm issues as recently as 2016. Committing four years at $15 to $16 million per year to a 32-year-old reliever with that profile certainly comes with risks.
On the other hand, the Cubs would be in at least as good of a position as anybody to have their own, intimate knowledge and opinions about Davis’s health/future outlook, so maybe they know something we don’t (in a good way! … or a bad way). Other than the Cubs, Duquette believes the Twins, Phillies, and “others,” will call about Davis.
For a little extra perspective, Duquette sees Darvish heading to the Mariners (6 years/$140M), Arrieta going to the Rangers (5 years and $100M+), and Reed going to the Braves for four years and $30M. Similarly, he believes the Cubs will at least be involved in the talks for Shohei Ohtani, Arrieta, Greg Holland, and Lance Lynn.