I can’t tell if this offseason is unusually exciting, or if it’s just that the Cubs are expected to make multiple impactful moves for the first time in a long time. Yes, last offseason was arguably filled with what turned out to be multiple impactful moves (Jon Lester, Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero, Dexter Fowler, for a few examples), but, with the exception of Lester, there wasn’t much lead up or anticipation. Things just happened, and they happened pretty quickly.
I don’t have to tell you that isn’t the case for 2016. Unlike last season, the Cubs are widely expected to be competitive on the field and, thus, active off of it. That means that nearly every free agent or potential trade candidate feels like a very real possibility. While that doesn’t make every connection out there accurate, it does make our offseason participation much more enjoyable. For example, when ESPN polls 34 general managers, assistant GMs, scouting directors and other baseball evaluators on seven Hot Stove offseason questions, we can pore over every line, rumor and detail to make connections to the Chicago Cubs. The article is very much worth checking out, there is actually a fair amount of detail regarding each vote, so go and read it, here.
Among the notable thoughts, more executives (19 to 14, to be exact) feel more comfortable giving a nine-figure deal to Zack Greinke than David Price. And while a “nine-figure contract” is purposefully vague in specifics, the reasoning behind it is sound. Essentially, it all boils down to Greinke having the better aging curve vis a vis Price. I mentioned a similar thought in my profile of Greinke earlier, so it’s interesting to see that others think so, as well.
But, to be fair, Price’s nine-figure deal is going to look a heckuva lot different than Greinke’s, and Greinke is two years Price’s elder. I have a feeling the Greinke/Price debate might be very similar to the Scherzer versus Lester debate of last offseason. One guy could be more impactful over the next two years (Scherzer), but the other could be a better bet to age well. And while I understand and agree that long-term success is generally more valuable, I wonder when the Cubs finally pull a real “let’s sacrifice some future, for some added benefits now” move.
Other than that, the baseball executives dive into votes on various talent comparisons like Justin Upton versus Jason Heyward, Chris Davis versus Yoenis Cespedes, Colby Rasmus versus Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond versus Jeff Samardjiza. Further, they question who is most likely to return to the Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon, Johnny Cueto or Ben Zobrist.
And lastly, they’re asked “If the Cubs trade a young infielder in the offseason to ease their position player logjam, who is more likely to be moved – Starlin Castro or Javier Baez?” While the consensus clearly favors a Castro move (20 to 11), it’s probably closer than you’d think. Indeed, one AL executive thinks Baez would “definitely bring more of a haul,” comparing him to Gary Sheffield, while another believes he “can see some teams shying away from his boom-or-bust approach.”
There is a ton of interesting bits in there, so I urge you to give it a read. Then, after that, feel free to share your own answers down below. I’m guessing there will be some pretty significant divergences from the execs on the issues.