The Chicago Cubs should acquire Tyler Glasnow this offseason so that they can be the team that gets him in 2023 when he’s finished rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. That’s really all this post is. I wanted to say it.
I was looking ahead to the Cubs’ offseason and all their pitching needs, and considering how I hope they are VERY aggressive on the priciest of the interesting short-term, high-risk, high-upside types (like, if the Cubs aren’t SPRINTING to sign Noah Syndergaard, I will be pissed (but that’s another post for another day)). And, oddly enough, that got me thinking about a guy who (1) can’t help the Cubs in 2022, and (2) isn’t even a free agent. But since it popped into my head, I wanted to get it down on paper, so to speak.
I strongly believe the Rays aren’t going to want to pay Glasnow, 28, to rehab in 2022 on the hopes that they can pay him even more in 2023 for his return season. It just isn’t their style. So unless they could get him to sign some kind of funky multi-year deal right now (going into his 30s, also not their style), I think they have only two possible paths with him this offseason: a non-tender or a trade.
The non-tender is possible, as Glasnow himself admitted in a recent interview. But before that would happen at the tender deadline on December 2, the Rays would undoubtedly first shop him around to see if there is a team willing to give a little something up in exchange for being the team to rehab Glasnow. And I think that team should be the Cubs.
Put it this way: I figure Glasnow will make $6 or $7 million in 2022 in his second-to-last year of arbitration (raise from $4 million this year), and then maybe another $7 million in 2023, when he’ll enter the season nearly 20 months removed from surgery. So basically you’re paying $12 to $14 million for Glasnow’s 2023 season post-TJS, and you get to spread the payments over two years. It’s actually kinda like signing him to a one-year, $6 or $7 million deal with a $7 million team option for 2023 – arguably exactly the kind of deal a guy in his situation would get in free agency, but maybe a little cheaper.
Another modest plus in Glasnow’s situation? Because of the timeline of his surgery and recovery, he will be throwing long before next year’s non-tender deadline. So, just in case there are hiccups in the recovery process and you realize 2023 at $7 million now looks like a bad risk, you can cut your losses at that point. *AND ALSO* since his 2023 deal is an arb-level contract, it’s also not fully-guaranteed until the end of Spring Training. So once again, if for some reason things look bad in March, you can save about $5-6 million at that point. (Note: you wouldn’t want either of those outcomes! I’m just saying the risk is softened compared to signing him to a true two-year, $12-14 million deal right now. It makes trading for him all the more attractive.)
The upside, of course, is that Glasnow continues the progression he was showing pre-injury, and you just got yourself a front-half-of-the-rotation arm for 2023, fully recovered from Tommy John.
You can’t assume Glasnow will just be great again in 2023 after surgery, but he will have had a full normal-ish offseason of throwing before that 2023 season. In other words, he’ll have had a little more distance from surgery than many other pitchers in their “first” year back from TJS.
Heck, he says it turned out there was enough damage there in the old UCL that he thinks he’ll actually feel way better post-recovery than he was feeling before the surgery. From there, yeah, you would have him only for the 2023 season, but then you have the first crack at an extension, you have the opportunity to trade him (if necessary), or make a Qualifying Offer after the season (if that’s still a thing). You figure that part out later. Right now, it’s about just getting him into your org, and giving yourself a shot at a really nice arm in 2023. (Or in the bullpen at the very end of 2022 (oh, probably not that one, but I mean, if he recovered fully within 13 months …. ).)
To be sure, the Cubs wouldn’t be the only club thinking this way, but they might be among a smaller pool of clubs that (1) have the money to take on this kind of risk with ease, and (2) are not necessarily balls’ing out with their spending for 2022 at the expense of 2023+.
But since the Cubs would nevertheless not be alone, it’s going to cost a decent prospect or two, I suspect, to pull this off. Not necessarily an ELITE prospect, because obviously. But an interesting set down in your system? Probably. And since the Cubs have one of the deepest farm systems in “interesting” guys, it makes all the more sense that they could be the org that parts with the asking price. You can’t keep every “interesting” prospect over the years ahead – there are roster limits and only so many innings to go around for developmental purposes – and this is a way to use your extreme depth.
Also? There may already have been some interest there from the Cubs, given the pre-Trade-Deadline talks with the Rays that reportedly could have included Glasnow.
So you can expect I’ll be banging this drum for a while.