I didn’t *think* this would be a change after the Cubs signed Marcus Stroman to a short-term deal – thus confirming that, no, they do not intend to completely punt on 2022 – but I appreciated getting confirmation from Sahadev Sharma.
I’m referring to the Cubs’ hopes to be able to add additional prospects this offseason by way of taking on a “bad” contract. It’s something we have discussed at length before, and something the Cubs even discussed at the Trade Deadline with the Padres and Eric Hosmer. Doing this kind of deal doesn’t have to be about getting a bad player – just a bad contract. So the Cubs could still be trying to work a deal like this for a player who could actually contribute to the team in 2022 (even if the main focus is the prospect return).
In any case, Sharma confirms it’s still on the table for the Cubs:
(The Cubs) weren’t in on the Jackie Bradley Jr. trade that sent the veteran outfielder from Milwaukee to Boston along with a pair of talented prospects, David Hamilton and Alex Binelas, for Hunter Renfroe. An intra-division trade just isn’t likely, especially one like that. But the Cubs are willing to add a contract a team might view as burdensome if it means bringing in a quality prospect or two.
The Cubs attempted such a move over the summer, discussing a deal with the Padres that would’ve netted Eric Hosmer (and the more than $60 million and three additional years on his contract) and a highly regarded prospect. Those talks fizzled in July but certainly could be rekindled once the lockout ends, or perhaps they’ll engage with another organization looking to unload a larger contract.
These types of deals are rare and really difficult to put together. But it’s exactly what the Cubs should, and will, try to explore in their current situation. They have the money, they have the roster spots — Hosmer, a defensive, left-handed-hitting first baseman who fits in any clubhouse, would make sense overall too — and they still want prospects. Whether they can find the right partner and come to an agreement is the hard part.
Don’t gloss over the last part. There’s a reason these trades are so rare, because they require not only a good fit from a roster and financial standpoint, but also a team that values getting rid of a contract more than their own prospect(s).
But, as Sharma points out, and we’ve been saying all offseason, the Cubs are in a pretty unique spot to land one of these deals. They not only have the requisite financial flexibility and the desire to accumulate prospects, but they have a LOT OF roster spots where a guy on a “bad” contract could still be an upgrade over what the Cubs currently have in place. Imagine a perfect deal that lands the Cubs a useful player to improve the team *AND* some quality prospects, all in exchange for the one thing they have plenty of and that doesn’t have to limit the future: short-term money.
We already know about Hosmer and have discussed the possible fit, but he’s certainly not the only contract the Padres might want to move at a spot where the Cubs could accommodate an addition (maybe the Padres don’t care about Ha-Seong Kim’s great glove and don’t want to wait on the bat; maybe they want to hit undo on the Jurickson Profar deal; maybe – gulp – they want to send Yu Darvish back out; etc.). And the Padres are certainly not the only club that might look to move a contract. Consider that we don’t even know what the next universe of the luxury tax is going to look like – it’s absolutely conceivable that even big market clubs might want to move out a contract or two, allowing them the flexibility to make free agent additions they prefer under the luxury tax.
Or how about snagging a prospect or two for the above-market remaining deal on a plus-defensive shortstop like Nick Ahmed? Or maybe the Diamondbacks pay out the nose (in prospects) to be rid of Madison Bumgarner? Or maybe the Twins want to save as much of the Josh Donaldson deal as possible? Or maybe the Astros feel like they whiffed on Jake Odorizzi and want a little more flexibility? Or the Royals on Mike Minor? I could go on, because the range of possible teams and players is sufficiently wide that you’re just guessing blindly (especially, again, since we don’t know what comes in the next CBA).
All of this is just something to keep on the radar, as it’s still on the table for the Cubs.