At the outset of the Winter Meetings (or, rather, this offseason), we knew a couple things about the Cubs’ 2018 bullpen plans: 1.) they’d be interested in adding at least two quality, back-end-type arms, and 2). the Colorado Rockies figured to be among their primary competition, given that they had so many departures in free agency
Well, so far, both of those things look to be true.
The Cubs have already added Brandon Morrow to a two year (plus an option) deal, and the Rockies may be adding not one (Bryan Shaw), not two (Jake McGee), but three(!) high-leverage reliever types:
Rockies are closing in on deal to bring Greg Holland back
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 13, 2017
To be sure, the Cubs never appeared to be enamored with Holland (I know I sure wasn’t after digging in deeper), so a return to the Rockies is not a horrible outcome here. The market, however, continues to move, without too many late-inning-type options left. Wade Davis? Addison Reed? Juan Nicasio? Steve Cishek? Brandon Kintzler?
And how about the Rockies? They’re clearly making a push for the playoffs again in 2018, and they want to make sure that bullpen is all set. Consider how much they’d be adding in relief payroll for 2018, alone:
McGee: $9M (3/$27M)
Shaw: $9M (3/$27M)
Holland: Projected 4 years/$50M by MLB Trade Rumors
Another consideration: McGee and Holland were already on the Rockies last season. You can’t just compare one year’s roster to the next (they’re still adding these three players), but in terms of expected overall team improvement versus cost … well, it’s marginal.
Moreover, absent a significant addition in the rotation, I’m not really sure they’re going to compete with the Dodgers for the division, so is this all in service of a better chance in the Wild Card Game? I’m probably being too harsh, because anything can happen (look how not-dominant the Cubs were last season despite our expectations), but still. I’m interested to see where their offseason heads.
Back to the point of the post: one more potential Cubs back-end target looks like he’ll soon come off the board (and with Anthony Swarzak signing with the Mets earlier, too), the Cubs’ formerly robust back-end options are starting to dwindle.
If and when Holland’s deal is complete, he’ll be the first qualified free agent to sign, and will probably net the biggest contract of the offseason so far.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal is now hearing differently:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2017