The offseason is still a ways away, and the postseason remains the appropriate focus for the Cubs and Cubs fans (yes, even if it winds up the Wild Card … ), but a note from Buster Olney caught my eye, and I figured I’d at least share it now.
Writing about the very early state of the chase for soon-to-be-free-agent-ace Gerrit Cole, Buster Olney mentions the Cubs as a suitor: “Cole Hamels’ current deal runs out this fall and Jon Lester is signed for at least one more season, so the Chicago Cubs could be involved in the Cole bidding – but they’ve already got a lot of other dollars on the books.”
Olney goes on to mention three other more fitting suitors at the moment, to his mind at least, in the Phillies, Angels, and Yankees. All sensible pursuers, of course.
When it comes to the Cubs, I don’t think it’s going to be very difficult to make the argument that they should go after Cole, both because of Hamels’ possible departure and Lester’s age, but also because Jose Quintana can be a free agent after next season, and the system isn’t yet pumping out middle-of-the-rotation-and-up starting pitchers. There’s also the matter of Cubs’ revenues continuing to rise, and the further expected growth from the Marquee Sports Network and increased premium club space at Wrigley Field.
But it’s also going to be true that, despite a lot of contracts rolling off the books this winter, there will be needs all over the roster, including some transformations to the offense and the bullpen, the costs for which are difficult to predict until we get a better sense of what players could be available in trade (i.e., perhaps the Cubs take on a contract in trade, because the free agent market on the positional side is going to be thin (though Anthony Rendon sure is attractive … )). I’m not sure $150+ million for Cole is going to be the Cubs’ primary focus.
That said, obviously it’s worth noting just how incredible Cole has become, as the Astros applied their transformational joojoo sauce liberally. He’s seen a spike in his spin rate and velocity, a better honing of his pitch mix (and the quality of those pitches overall), and the soon-to-be 29-year-old has posted an ERA just over 2.80 in his two years with the Astros, having peripherals that completely support that level of production. He will be one of the most attractive pitchers on the free agent market in a long time.
All in due time.