To be very sure up front, the idea of the Chicago Cubs acquiring New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom remains firmly in the world of hypothetical, much more than an actual rumor out there that the Cubs are pursuing. I don’t want folks to miss that.
Even when Bruce Levine raised the possibility of the Cubs going after deGrom, it was more in the vein of “if the Cubs wanted to go big, X Y Z.”
That said, we do know that the Mets are terrible and deGrom is an extremely valuable piece that they could trade off if they chose to do so, and we also know that the Cubs have said they’re looking to add pitching and have previously targeted controllable starting pitching, even at a steep price (which would necessarily have to include big league pieces, given the state of the farm system). So if you *WERE* going to do the hypothetical thing, connecting the Cubs and deGrom is not crazy.
To that end, I think the latest from Jesse Rogers is a wholly appropriate look at what it would cost the Cubs – in the minds of people around the game – if they were going to go after deGrom.
Food for thought as the Cubs open the 2nd half: What would it take for the Cubs to pull off a deGrom blockbuster? https://t.co/MHkGlneQuz
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) July 19, 2018
Turns out, folks around the game see the price tag pretty much exactly where we saw it: the Cubs could center an offer around Addison Russell or Ian Happ, if they also included much more – like Mike Montgomery and a couple of their best prospects. If the package included BOTH Russell and Happ, maybe just another prospect would need to be included, but it seems to me that’s a non-starter if the Cubs could simply include a pitcher instead (since they’d be receiving a pitcher in the deal).
So, then, let’s just imagine the proposal on the table is the steepest realistic price entertained by those around the game: Russell or Happ, Montgomery, and any two prospects the Mets want (imagine it being Alex Lange and Miguel Amaya, for the sake of visualization (each has a shot at being a back-end top 100 type by the end of the year, and could be the Cubs’ top two prospects at that point)).
deGrom, 30, is under control via arbitration next year and 2020, and is perversely good this year after being extremely good in 2014 and 2015, and then just solidly good in 2016 and 2017. He has a similarly consistent track record as Jose Quintana did when the Cubs acquired him, but one less year of control, will likely be paid more in those years, and is a year and a half older than Quintana was then. But he also unquestionably has a greater potential to be top tier dominant in a given year. I would peg their value similarly (at the time of the Quintana trade for Quintana, and now for deGrom), with maybe a slight edge to Quintana because of his age and the extra year of cheaper team control.
When you put it in that context, it’s a closer call than you might have thought, isn’t it? As I sit here right now typing, I’m not certain what I would do if the choice was put to me – deGrom for Happ, Montgomery, Lange, and Amaya. I don’t want to undersell the value of Happ and Montgomery, but I also don’t think you can underestimate the impact ability of a starting pitcher like Jacob deGrom, especially in a window like this when the postseason will hopefully roll around every year. Moreover, adding THIS deGrom to THIS year’s club, in particular, seems like it could be especially impactful.
What do you think? It’s close, right? I’m guessing folks break in various directions, with most saying they’d pull the trigger. I’m still thinking.
Meanwhile, we also have to remember that it’s not like the Cubs would be alone in bidding aggressively for deGrom, and there could be other packages out there – of impact prospects, for example – that the Mets might prefer. It’s one thing to come up with a realistic package from the Cubs; it’s another thing for it to actually be the package the Mets would accept over all others (and so good that they don’t just say, “Eh, we’ll keep him for another year”).