The FO of Esptein/Hoyer/McLeod has been pretty transparent and upfront with its pointed focus of a total system rebuild down through the minors and up at the MLB 'Show'. Unlike McPhail's philosophy of trying to catch lightening in the bottle or Hendry's modus of trading youth for veterans and also overpaying free agents Eptein and Hoyer believe in pipeline approach of 'more talent' and system competition. Fine, I get it and happy, I know there are injuries (see Garza), unexpected downturn in productivity (see Castro) or merely not enough impact (see Barney). This front office triumverate has a plan that they are executing after taking the reign in Oct 2011. That means they have been in control of two drafts and two international FA signing periods, plus two seasons to trade or release.
In the process have been changes that regulate teams in acquiring talent. This summer we see that the Cubs are 15% over their Intl FA signing bonus limit owing to a penalty being imposed next year. Jim Callis stated on the radio this AM (7/28/13) that the Cubs came to realize that overspending this year merely means they lose what amounts to two equivalent draft choices next year so they brought in more young'ins this year. So they went all out this year, figuring to take a pass next year. Spending on Tseng ($1.625MM bonus ranked 29th), on top of Jimenez's ($2.8M ranked #1), Torres ($1.7M ranked 6th), and Mejia, Moreno and Matos totalling $1.75M, where all told reports are $7.895M to international prospects and $1.059MM over their maximum international bonus pool, or a 15.5% overage, putting them in position of facing the maximum penalties for international spending next summer.
This June we saw the Cubs in the #2 position and draft, then 41, 75, 108, 138, 168, 228, 258, 288.....where the Cubs argualbly got the best player available, plus a LHP stud, an under the radar athlete, six more pitchers and an OF'er in the first ten rounds,
But now the Cubs are playing so well that they are in the danger Free Agent zone where if they sign a big free agent let us say Ellsbury for example they would lose a first round draft choice. Presently the worst nine teams get an exception for a FA loss and the Cubs are ahead of Houston (69 losses), Miami (63 losses), ChiSox (62 losses), Milwaukee (61 losses), SF (58 losses), SD (58 losses), MN (57 losses), Phi (56 losses), NYM (56 losses), LAA (55 losses), CO (55 losses), SEA (55 losses), CHC (55 losses) or Cubs are tield with 10th, with three teams in the Free Agent danger zone. Right ahead of CHC is WA (54 losses), AZ (51 losses), KC (51 losses) and NYY (50 losses).
What does this tell you? It tells me that the perfect end of season finish is 21st or 9th draft position. To insure that I think Cubs are trading more pieces than most fans want to see, Schierholtz, Gregg, Russell, Valbuena and even Villaneuva for sure, there is a ready market for these veteran talents. They also represent about 5 to 6 WAR's or 2 to 3 losses down the stretch.
Cubs will want to be able to sign a FA next season and also get a top ten draft choice one more year following Baez, Almora and Bryant