Today, however, I thought we could another look at those same projections, but this time from a potential-Cubs-free-agent target perspective. I won’t be able to hit on every single player the Cubs are believed to be interested in, but we can definitely get things started. And, of course, you can always take a look at the full projections right here.
Like last time, a couple of up-front reminders: 1. You can see the full projections here at FanGraphs, as we’ll cover just some of the highlights below; 2. projections are inherently conservative, and 3. this is but one of many projections we’ll see this offseason.
In other words, don’t make final and total decisions based off what you see here, alone. Okay? Projection time. Let’s look at some key free agents, and discuss the implications of their projections.
Stats: 179.0 IP, 3.81 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.7 fWAR
I genuinely don’t know if the Cubs are going to dip their toe into the deep end of free agent starting pitchers, but if they were to, Yu Darvish would probably be there guy. The projections are fairly kind. In terms of ERA, FIP, and WAR, Darvish’s projections for 2018 are even stronger than 2017. He does come up a little shy on the inning count, but it’s rare that you see any starting pitcher projected for 200+ innings these days. Perhaps the most exciting projection for next season is that he’s not expected to lose anything on his excellent strikeout (27.2%) or walk (7.6%) rates.
They’re not traditional “ace” quality numbers, but they’re certainly quality projections, and similar to the sort of numbers Darvish put up last year, when he was among the top 20 or so pitchers in baseball.
Stats: 177.0 IP, 4.20 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 2.8 fWAR
If we’re going to look at Darvish, we should probably look at Arrieta, too. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t too pretty. Although he’s projected to post more WAR this season than last, Arrieta is projected for another light load in 2018, and a bump in his ERA. Perhaps, after three straight deep postseason runs and injuries sprinkled into the 2017 season, the projections just don’t believe he’ll continue to hold up. Obviously, if he’s going to ask for the $120M+ contract we think he might, he’ll have to convince teams that he’ll be far better than this.
Projections aren’t everything, but these projections are quite humble.
Stats: 133.0 IP, 4.41 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 1.7 fWAR
Of course, if you want to hold a player to their projections, than there wouldn’t be much interest in Alex Cobb, would there? At just 133.0 IP over 23 projected starts, Steamer does not believe in the big bounce back year Cobb put up in Tampa Bay this season. He’s expected to take steps back in ERA, FIP, WAR, and even walk rate. His strikeout rate is expected to tick up *a bit,* but it’s still projected to land under 18.0%. These are another rough set of projections for a potential Cubs target.
As for the innings, they’re probably down so far because of his time missed with Tommy John surgery in 2015-16.
Stats: 65.0 IP, 3.48 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 0.7 fWAR
Although the Cubs’ former closer is expected to throw more innings than he has since 2015 next season, he’s not expected to be better for it. His ERA, FIP, and WAR all take relatively significant hits in the latest Steamer projections, while both his strikeout rate (bad thing ) and walk rate (good thing) are expected to come back down to normal ranges.
Stats: 40.0 IP, 4.08 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 0.3 fWAR
Addison Reed has been something of a personal-favorite target of mine for the Cubs this offseason, but maybe some of the issues we’ve already uncovered need to be taken more seriously. After all, given that Reed is likely to command at least three years and probably something around $10M/season, you’d sorta expect him to exceed the 40.0 IP limit and break a 4.00 ERA. Actually, that would be something of a necessity.
Stats: 65.0 IP, 3.77 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 0.8 fWAR
Although Brandon Morrow isn’t projected to be nearly as dominant next season as he was this season, he is somewhat surprisingly expected to be even more prolific. If you could guarantee right now that he’d reach the 65.0 projected IP mark next season, I’d be FAR more interested in giving him a deal beyond just one year.
For more individual Steamer Projections, head on over to FanGraphs.com and enter any players name into the search box.