[Had I not run out of room in the headline, I would have included a notation – because some folks read no further than the headline – that savvy front offices will meet with everyone who makes even remotely plausible sense at some point during an offseason. So, then, I’d caution you against taking a headline like that and assuming those four pitchers are particular targets for the Cubs, or that there’s any kind of advanced momentum here. This is the process.]
The Cubs’ top brass will meet with agents for various top pitchers today at the GM Meetings, according to reports at ESPN, CSN, and Cubs.com. It is expected that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will likely meet at some point with the representatives for, among other unnamed players, David Price, Jeff Samardzija, Jordan Zimmermann, and Zack Greinke. The first two are reported as explicitly on the schedule at this point for the front office (Price in the CSN report, Samardzija in the Cubs.com report), and the latter two seem to be implied.
Each of the four starters mentioned makes varying degrees of sense for the Cubs, and each has a plausible connection/rumor/set of rumors linking them to the Cubs (Price, Samardzija, Zimmermann, Greinke). That the front office would want to meet with their representatives, then, here at the outset of the offseason makes a great deal of sense.
It’s going to be very interesting to see which free agent domino is the first to fall – not just with the Cubs, but with the whole group. Given that there are so many great pitching options available, and given that they’ll all be playing off each others’ contract demands and interested teams, you just wonder which is going to be willing to pull the trigger first. I wouldn’t expect any to do much until after Friday’s deadline to accept or decline qualifying offers, thanks to the potential ripple effect if a player does decide to accept.
And you also wonder how a team like the Cubs, which might be interested in a number of options depending on the cost, will approach prioritizing their targets (because it’s not quite as simple as saying you definitely want to target Player A when you might prefer him at Cost X, but he actually wants Cost Y, and Player B starts to look more attractive at what he wants, which is Cost Z). Then you throw in the possibility of trades, some of which we discussed last evening, and it gets even more complicated. I suppose the only way to do it is to have a variation of a flow chart, on which you’ve ranked all of your possible targets – in free agency and trade – and some of the names are on there multiple times, depending on the possible cost.
In any case, the first step is feeling out general interest, and trying to gauge contract demands. And it sounds like that’s happening as soon as today with some of the top names.