Lukewarm Stove: Free Agency Binges, Hoyer, Soriano, Marmol, Samardzija

Social Navigation

Lukewarm Stove: Free Agency Binges, Hoyer, Soriano, Marmol, Samardzija

Chicago Cubs

We’ve got two weeks left until the unofficial waiver trade deadline on August 31. Will the Cubs make another move? It’s still possible.

  • GM Jed Hoyer was on CTL on CSN yesterday, discussing a wide variety of things. Most notably, he reiterated Theo Epstein’s public stance on the relative unattractiveness of signing big-name free agents. “One of the problems with free agency is that there is an illusion in some ways that you’re acquiring this great talent,” Hoyer said. “Most of the time, players hit free agency when they’re on the back half of their career. Players peak [at] 26, 27, 28 [years of age]. Free agents [are usually] in their 30s. So, you’re spending a lot of money sometimes for declining performance. It doesn’t mean you don’t do it. It doesn’t mean you don’t seek the right guys out. [But] we have to build from within and build young players, because the days of going out and signing young free agents is over. Teams lock up their guys. Look at how many long, multiyear deals teams are signing with their pre-arbitration players. You know that you’re going to delve into free agency, but if you have an offseason plan, or a plan of the future dependent upon those names, I think you’re doing things the wrong way.” Keep in mind, the Red Sox were no stranger to big-name free agent signings, so it’s not as if they aren’t a part of the plan – they just might not be part of the plan in the near term. The point is that free agency is not the way to build a winner. Given the financial structure of the game, that should be obvious by now. To field a 25-man roster capable of winning a division, a team – even one with a payroll exceeding $130 million – will necessarily have to have at least half of those guys making $1 million or less. The way to do that, of course, is to develop talent from within. Mix in a few home-grown superstars in their arbitration years, and thus making less than they’re worth, together with some expensive free agents, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
  • But, as I always point out: you’ve got to sign those free agents when they’re actually available. It’s easy to say, without regard to the actual free agent class, that the Cubs need to wait another year or two before pursuing free agents. If the right free agent, however, is on the market this year (or next year, or whatever year is “a year earlier” than you expect to be competitive), you may have to pull the trigger a year early. Because, plainly, that’s when the guy is actually available to sign. Fortunately (or unfortunately), there don’t seem to be too many guys like that in the 2013 class, so I don’t think the Cubs are going to be faced with that kind of dilemma.
  • Instead, I think you’ll see the Cubs going after more rebound type candidates again this year. Your early favorite for rumors? How about Brandon McCarthy? Tons of talent, tons of health problems.
  • Phil Rogers thinks a number of teams could use Alfonso Soriano, beyond just the Giants. He mentions the Rays, the Tigers, and the Rangers (the Rangers?). I certainly agree on the Rays and the Tigers, and you could throw in the Pirates and the A’s, though Soriano has reportedly ruled them out as places to which he’d accept a trade. I remain of the mind that the hurdles to dealing Soriano are probably too steep to overcome right now. He’ll be shopped in the offseason, though.
  • Doug Padilla did the chat thing yesterday, and … (1) Bryan LaHair’s drop-off in production in June and July torpedoed any trade value he might have had; (2) Matt Garza’s trade value this offseason is going to be seriously depressed by his injury, and the Cubs are more likely to shop him after he starts throwing in the Spring and shows that he’s healthy; (3) the Cubs don’t care about losing Alfonso Soriano’s production this season if they move him (query, though, whether they’d worry about losing it in 2013, as Bruce Levine discusses, see below); (4) two or three more front office guys are mulling reduced roles or job title changes; (5) Doug hints that a Carlos Marmol trade isn’t out of the question this month, particularly for a team looking to add a set-up type; and (6) hard to see the Cubs going after a top free agent until after 2013, at the earliest.
  • And how about an MLBTR chat? (1) The Angels could use a bullpen arm (Marmol? Camp?); (2) the Giants almost have to make an outfield addition if they want to keep leading the West, and could consider fringy options like Johnny Damon or Vernon Wells; (3) the Cubs should shop Jeff Samardzija in the offseason; (4)
  • Bruce Levine also chatted (it was a chatty week), and shared his thoughts: (1) Starlin Castro will likely not be shopped this Winter (Bruce asserted this before the extension rumors broke, mind you); (2) Bruce hears vague rumors about Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol being shopped this month, but nothing substantial; (3) the Cubs are likely to go after one-year type free agent pitchers this Winter; and (4) the Cubs shouldn’t move Soriano unless they know who’s going to replace his production next year, and, right now, there isn’t anyone.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.