It’s not often that we hear about the Chicago Cubs not being even remotely involved on a quality free agent and my reaction is to shrug and say, “Well, I mean, yeah that’s fine.” But that’s the case today, and it really is fine.
The Cubs did not attend Justin Verlander’s recent workout, per Gordon Wittenmyer:
Cubs were not among the 15-to-20 teams scouting Justin Verlander’s showcase Monday.
Verlander, coming off Tommy John surgery, reportedly showed a return to high velocity and command.
He has not informed the Astros whether he will accept their $18.4 million qualifying offer.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) November 10, 2021
There are several reasons that, while this is news worthy of sharing, it is not something that bothers me in the least:
1.) Verlander, 39 in February, is going to be extraordinarily choosy in where he signs, which will mean that combination of significant and certain near-term competitiveness, and comfort. He might love the Cubs for all we know, but could you really blame him if he doesn’t feel the Cubs are the best bet to win in 2022? I just don’t see him signing with the Cubs anyway right now.
2.) I still think Verlander’s best bet, coming off surgery, having aged, and with no post-sticky-stuff-enforcement performance or data to show, is going to be accepting that Qualifying Offer. Signing him to a multi-year deal right now is quite a risky proposition, and I’d rather the Cubs looked elsewhere, all else equal.
3.) Because of the QO, Verlander would cost the Cubs their high second round pick, the associated pool space, and $500K in IFA bonus pool space. While you want the Cubs in on high-dollar short-term arms, I have generally been opposed to it when we’re talking about qualified free agents. The “cost” just gets so high for such a limited return. And since a three+ year deal for Verlander looks so risky *anyway,* I really don’t see a good fit here for the Cubs.
4.) You don’t HAVE to be in person to scout a guy right now, especially when he’s gotta first make a QO decision in a week. You COULD be interested, see what happens with that decision, and then observe him later in some way if you actually wound up getting serious. (That won’t happen for the Cubs, mind you, but I am simply saying that not attending a throwing session in early November doesn’t absolutely prove anything. Points 1 through 3 are the main ones.)
Justin Verlander might come back great. It’ll be an interesting story to follow. But that comeback wasn’t going to take place with the Cubs in any realistic universe. That they aren’t getting involved at any level here in early November is really not a big deal, and doesn’t say anything about the rest of their offseason pursuits.