A panel of David Kaplan, Tony Andracki, Scott Changon, Nate Poppen, and Eric Strobel assembled to discuss the Cubs’ offseason on the CubsTalk Podcast, and Kaplan dropped a particularly interesting nugget on the Cubs’ original offer to free agent starter Alex Cobb. Remember when it seemed like the deal was inevitable back in November?
Here’s a rough transcript of what Kaplan said (full podcast here):
“So Alex [Cobb] told a friend of mine that the Cubs called him and said, ‘Hey man, you want the Chatwood contract? We’re all in.’ That’s what they tried to get him to take …. And he was interested. And then his agents started saying, ‘Well wait a minute, I think there’s a whole lot more money out there.'”
When later asked if the Cubs would still do that deal, Kaplan exclaimed “in a second!”
In case you forgot, Tyler Chatwood received a three-year, $38 million deal from the Cubs earlier this winter, though Kaplan was calling it three years and $42 million, which was apparently what the Cubs were offering.
With that in mind, I’m not entirely surprised to see that Cobb’s agents rebuffed an offer so close to Chatwood’s deal, especially early in the offseason. I’m not saying I fault the Cubs for offering it – given the luxury tax situation and the relationships involved, I can understand why the Cubs started with a very conservative offer (and it sounds like Cobb may have even been on board). But this is probably a year short and several million shy of what Cobb’s camp was expecting to get as a baseline earlier this winter.
Kaplan went on to say that the Cubs probably don’t want to go more than three years on Cobb. So maybe that’s where things stand right now, with the Cubs willing to take Cobb at three years and something close to $14 million per year, but Cobb’s camp holding out for that fourth year (preferably from the Cubs, but I suppose we’ll eventually find out if some other team is going there). And while the Cubs wait, they also are exploring whether they can get Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta on a four-year deal, because why not explore if the market isn’t moving anyway?
In the end, the report should be of some comfort to those of you who thought the Cubs were already up in that four-year, $60 million range. It’s possible Cobb’s market gets there, but it sounds like the Cubs aren’t itching to go there. Cobb may wind up having to choose between three years and $14-ish million annually with the Cubs, and four years and something in the $12 to $15 million range from a team like the Twins.
As for the attractiveness of Cobb as the Cubs’ preferred pitching target, lets assume he’s their guy, if they can get him for only three years and a reasonable AAV. I’m completely good with that. Yes, there concerning signals in Cobb’s peripherals from 2017, his first full year back from Tommy John. And yes, it’s possible those peripherals stay, and manifest themselves in a disastrous 2018, especially if he can’t get his changeup back. But when you consider that he’s just 30, that he *was* only in his first full year back from Tommy John last year, that he will get to continue working with his excellent pitching coach, and that he was actually extremely good in all phases in the second half last year, then a three-year deal (even considering draft pick compensation) looks pretty great to me.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.