Lukewarm Stove: Free Agent Contract Projections, Expert Expectations, Selling Free Agents on Chicago

Social Navigation

Lukewarm Stove: Free Agent Contract Projections, Expert Expectations, Selling Free Agents on Chicago

Chicago Cubs

For those looking for an election night diversion …

  • The GM Meetings are underway, but all is quiet on that front. As Jed Hoyer said, we likely won’t hear too much in the way of completed deals this week, but we are likely to hear some rumors in the vein of “the Cubs have spoken to the Red Sox about Alfredo Aceves.” That’s just an example, by the way. Though, I mean, the Red Sox are considering moving Aceves, and he could be an interesting rotational conversion for the Cubs at a relatively low cost.
  • We have every reason to expect that free agent salaries are going to continue the upward trajectory they started last offseason when the new CBA was announced. That agreement’s shifting of dollars from the amateur side to the big league side, coupled with exploding TV deals, have opened up tremendous amounts of money to be spent on free agents, if teams are willing. That’s expected to happen. That said, Buster Olney points out that some MLB executives were surprised to see guys like Edwin Jackson, Angel Pagan, Torii Hunter and Mike Napoli not receive $13.3 million qualifying offers from their teams. The lack of an offer suggests, in those players’ cases, a fear that they would accept – which, at that level of money, would seem a reasonable risk, given the draft pick compensation that accompanies a rejection. Each of those four is expected to command a multi-year deal, so why the lack of an offer? Might we be overestimating the amount they’ll receive? If so, might a guy like Edwin Jackson be on the table for the Cubs?
  • Speaking of which, Jon Heyman and an anonymous “expert” projected the contracts for the top 42 free agents, and the results were surprising. Players potentially relevant for the Cubs include B.J. Upton ($65 to $70 million over five years), Anibal Sanchez ($65 to $70 million over five years), Edwin Jackson ($36 million over three years), Ryan Dempster ($33 million over three years, or $25 million over two), Brandon McCarthy ($20 to $22 million over two years), Shaun Marcum ($20 million over two years, or a hair over $10 million for one), Dan Haren (same as Marcum), and Scott Baker ($6.5 million for one year). To me, those numbers all seem a little low, but when you consider the lack of qualifying offers, maybe salaries for the non tip-top guys will not explode as expected. I’ll tell you one thing: if Anibal Sanchez signs for five years and $65 million and the Cubs don’t get him, I will lose my stuff. That is a contract that is easily, easily worth out-bidding.
  • Similarly, Jerry Crasnick surveyed a handful of executives to ask them a variety of free agency questions. It’s always an interesting read, even if little of it directly implicates the Cubs. Those executives believe that Sanchez is, by far, the second best pitcher on the free agent market.
  • Patrick Mooney looks at the Cubs’ offseason signing plan, and how the Cubs will “sell” free agents on the “opportunity” of playing for the Cubs (which means the chance to be part of the team that finally does it, or, more likely, the chance to get a starting spot where you might not otherwise find one). Theo Epstein, quoted in the piece, likes to point to Paul Maholm as an example of why guys will want to sign with the Cubs, which is really interesting, given than Maholm is the poster child for the Cubs signing guys they can “flip.” From Epstein: “I think Paul Maholm would tell people he’s really glad he signed here, that he got a little bit of help. He got an opportunity and his career took the next step here. Even though he was traded, I think he feels good about his Cubs experience and would come back here in a second if he had the opportunity.” That makes me wonder: are the Cubs up front with guys they’re targeting as flip candidates? We joke about the whole “sign with us and we guarantee you’ll be on a contender come August … because we’ll trade you to one!” thing, but maybe there’s actually something there? Maybe some players actually do find that to be an attractive pitch?

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.