Since the Chicago Cubs are on a six-game losing streak, and things probably won’t get any better in 2018 either, it’s time to start dreaming about the 2019 season.
… I’m kidding, chaps.
But I do have some off-day reading for you in the form of a look at the upcoming post-2018 free agent mega class – the one that currently projects to feature Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, and many, many more. Even if not everyone actually reaches free agency, it’s still going to be the best class we’ve seen in a long time.
To that end, Jeff Passan wrote about the expected class from a team-by-team perspective: that is to say, which teams figure to have the resources and the desire to spend big in that class?
The Yankees, Dodgers, and Phillies come in for expected mentions up top, as each will have a ton of money available at that time, and each figures to be competitive. Personally, I have a hard imagining Harper or Machado or Kershaw signing anywhere else but those three teams, but hey, it’s a long way off.
Interestingly, Passan has the White Sox and Astros among the teams best positioned to spend that year. I think the money aspect is a little questionable, but there’s certainly a congruity there with their rebuilding timelines.
How about the Cubs? Where will they be when next-next offseason rolls around? Well, as this year has taught us already, it’s difficult to project performance as far out as the end of your nose, let alone a couple years down the road. Still, it figures to be the case that with so much talent under control, the Cubs will be competitive.
… but if that talent has lived into the expectations we have for them, they will also be very expensive by 2019. Every youngster on the big league roster except for Ian Happ and Albert Almora will have started their arbitration years when 2019 begins, and the Cubs will see significant salary increases for players under contract like Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, and Jon Lester. There will be some deals coming off the books between now and then, of course, but the Cubs might also ink a deal or two this offseason.
That is to say, it’s difficult to project where the Cubs will be financially when that golden offseason rolls around.
What we do know, and Passan amplifies, is that the Cubs are not likely to be luxury tax exploders. It’s possible the coming TV deal will change the philosophy, but remember: there are real, baseball-related consequences for going over the luxury tax threshold, and the front office has already intimated a reluctance to do it.
Once nice thing is that the luxury tax level is increasing in the coming years, from $195 million in 2017 to $206 million for the 2019 season, so the teams with money that are willing to brush up against the luxury tax level (but not exceed it) will have more room to play.