Roster Filling Up, the Meaning of Mutual Options, Chafin, Rockies on Blast, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Roster Filling Up, the Meaning of Mutual Options, Chafin, Rockies on Blast, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The question we face every time the Cubs sign someone now to a big league deal: is that all the scratch left available? Would the Cubs commit almost $3 million of their scant remaining dollars to a reliever? Did the reported opening up of the baseball budget mean that Jed Hoyer now had enough to sign a lot of these one-year guys to address a variety of holes, and he simply had the money set aside for a good reliever? We’ll see, depending on what comes next (or doesn’t). Payroll, you’ll note, is still down tens and tens and tens of millions from last year.

•   None of the Joc Pederson, Trevor Williams, or Andrew Chafin signings are officially official, which you could regard as normal slow process during a pandemic (physicals and such), or you could wonder about whether there are simultaneous maneuvers happening on the 40-man roster to coordinate. Adding that trio would put the 40-man at 40, so there isn’t an obvious explicit need, but it’s possible the Cubs have something else cooking, OR simply don’t want to be right at 40 at the moment if they don’t have to be. That said, there really aren’t lot of super obvious DFA candidates at this time, so it’s possible this just fills things up, and additions from here will either be minor league deals (another starter?) or truly impactful types whose price tags fall (Kolten Wong?).

•   With the Cubs re-signing lefty Andrew Chafin on a one-year deal with a mutual option (the Joc Pederson deal also reportedly has a mutual option, and the Cubs haven’t been alone in this), I thought you might be wondering about those – why they exist, why we’re seeing them, etc. At first blush, you might think mutual options have no reason for existing. If both sides – mutually – agree that the player should earn $X, why have an option at that price? Why not just, you know, re-sign? And it’s true that a mutual option almost never exercised by both sides, since it would’ve had to have been written, year(s) in advance, at the absolute perfect price point for both sides. That just doesn’t happen.

•   So, you’re like, yeah, I know – why do they exist then? Well, two main reasons, both purely financial. One simply reason is that they take part of the guarantee (the buyout) and shift it to after the season. It’s basically a small deferral without calling it a deferral. The other reason – sometimes the bigger reason – is that it can allow the sides to play with the buyout. This is idiosyncratic to each contract, so it isn’t *always* like this, but sometimes teams and players structure the mutual option such that one side has to decide first, and depending on their decision, might trigger the buyout. This Chafin contract would actually be a perfect example (again, we don’t know for sure whether it’s actually structured this way): say he finishes the year, and wants and exercises his half of that $5.25 million option. Maybe he got injured or was disappointing and he knows he can’t beat it in free agency. At that point, the Cubs would have to decline their half of the mutual option, and pay him the buyout to go away. By contrast, say Chafin kicks butt and wants to hit free agency – he knows the Cubs would love to keep him for $5.25 million. So he declines his half, and then the Cubs, who wanted to keep him, do not have to pay the buyout. It’s win-win, since they save a little money, and he’s on his way to a much bigger payday. And he was still guaranteed at least $2.75 million when he initially signed, it’s just that he chose to forgo part of it for a better score.

•   Again, that’s how *SOME* mutual options operate. Others are purely about deferring the money, and the buyout is locked in no matter who decides what.

•   Speaking of Chafin, I’d had the Cubs bookmarked for signing one more surer-thing-type reliever before the offseason was up, and he certainly fits the bill. Last year was just wonky for him because of the shut down, the injury, and the trade, but he was frequently really darn good before that. I remember hearing last year that the Cubs had actually tried to get him from the Diamondbacks before, so clearly there’s something they really like about him. And guaranteeing him $2.75 million in this market, given their limitations, tells me they really think they might even be able to get him to another level – an impact reliever could have a lot of value at midseason, even if the Cubs aren’t competitive (but, you know, hopefully he helps them be competitive). I really dig the signing, though I’m pleasantly surprised they were able to spend at this level to bring in a quality lefty reliever – a clear need.

•   Heads up to a particularly huge Super Bowl bonus offer for those of you who partake, and a thanks for checking it out and letting us share this stuff (probably a lot more this week, because it’s an important one for the ole revenues):

•   Man, the Rockies are getting eviscerated in Denver (as they should):

•   National media none too kind either:

•   Eric Longenhagen wrote up the trade return from the Rockies’ perspective, digging in on the prospects, and, uh, yikes. The Rockies did not do well.

•   Fun with screenshots:

•   Super Bowl snacks, bedding, and supplements are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Cubs DNA with a fun and interesting Q&A with Russell Dorsey, the Cubs beat writer for the Sun-Times, and also one of the youngest – and very few Black – beat writers in MLB.

•   I love this shot:

•   Jeff Passan’s big story on Drew Robinson is out in a number of formats (I also grabbed the podcast to listen to, and I’m going to watch the doc on ESPN+):

The more I read of Mario’s work on the Blackhawks, the more I realize this has become a sneaky good year to get into the Blackhawks. Expectations? Quite low. Injuries? Everywhere. Young guys stepping in and looking surprisingly interesting? Yup! Pretty good place to be when you’re pseudo rebuilding. Hence, give our new Blackhawks coverage a follow on Twitter, and smack that like button on Facebook, please and thanks:



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.