Look, I want to be as transparent as possible on this thing, since I mention it so frequently: the Cubs doing a bad contract swap with the Blue Jays is simply an idea that makes sense. It’s not something that is on the table, as far as we know. Cool? But, yeah, it does make a lot of sense.
Specifically, swapping out Tyler Chatwood and the $25.5 million left on the two years of his deal, and netting a quality 36-year-old veteran back-up catcher in Russell Martin, who is set to make $20 million this season before becoming a free agent ($16.4 million). For the explanation and analysis of how/why this could work, see here.
The short version? The Cubs parlay what they may view as dead money into a needed complementary piece (saving a little total money in the process, and getting the financial hit off the books in a single year when they’re gonna be over the luxury tax anyway), and the Blue Jays convert what they may view as a dead contract into two years of a young, possible bounce-back pitcher.
Totally makes sense. Do it, right?
But then the rebuilding Blue Jays, who might want to take a chance on a bounce-back from a 29-year-old starting pitcher (given that it would cost them so little), wound up acquiring Clayton Richard and signing Matt Shoemaker, a couple other buy-low, maybe-become-a-trade-asset types. Would they even still want to swap a bad contract for a couple years of Chatwood and the chance he gets it back after a totally lost 2018 season?
Team GM Ross Atkins didn’t quite make it seem like the Richard and Shoemaker acquisitions closed the door on more pitching additions, suggesting that neither pitcher has a guaranteed spot in the rotation, and adding that there could be more additions (MLB.com): “It could be in the form of a starter, it could be in the form of a reliever and we’ll look to continue to do that. We’ll continue to consider any opportunities to move players potentially off of our roster. It’s not something we are proactively looking to do, but we do have a great number of players that other teams are interested in. I’ve said this before, it just keeps getting busier. I can’t imagine being any busier.”
Oh, and Atkins also said that Russell Martin, specifically, is “interesting to a lot of teams.” And to that I’d say absolutely … but no team is going to pay anywhere close to $20 million for one season of the 36-year-old on the downswing of his career, and probably best suited for a back-up gig.
So, hey, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could still have interest in additional pitching options like Chatwood, at a time when they’re pretty clearly just looking to add pieces on the cheap that could possibly become something interesting down the road.
What can I say? I really, really like the Russell Martin fit for the Cubs, and the opportunity to save some money in the process while clearing out a guy who does not really have a spot in the Cubs’ rotation or bullpen is pretty appealing. I’m keeping hope alive.