Jon Heyman on the Cubs’ Next Offseason: “I Hear They’re Gonna Spend”
On the latest episode of his podcast “The Show,” Jon Heyman said the one thing we’ve all been dying to hear from literally anybody willing to say it: The Chicago Cubs are going to spend a kajillion dollars in free agency this offseason. Well, it wasn’t quite that sexy, but Heyman definitely opened a door we’d like to keep open over the next 6-8 months.
Listen to the discussion in full right here, but here’s the part that jumped out (bolded emphasis mine):
“I’m sure Mets fans would like to keep [Brandon Nimmo], and maybe they will — Steve Cohen is the owner, so there’s always hope. Some teams I’ve heard that could be interested in Nimmo include Seattle, who we talked about earlier, Texas, who we touched on, as well, Cubs, who I hear they’re gonna spend, so that’s going to be interesting and something something to keep an eye on. They need to spend and get better.”
In a conversation about the impending free agent market for center fielder Brandon Nimmo (we’ll circle back to him in a moment), Heyman snuck in a fairly juicy bit that the Cubs are a team planning to spend this offseason. Implicit in his tone is that they’re going to spend more than you might otherwise expect in a typical winter. Given how far away from the offseason we actually are — and thus, how little any one specific player/agent/team would benefit from such a rumor — and given how Heyman was highly critical of the Cubs’ spending late in the offseason, I tend to believe this is based on things he’s actually heard. And that’s something to tuck in the backs of our minds here at the end of May.
Whether big spending is actually going to play out is an entirely different story and possibly not even something the Cubs know for certain just yet. I think a more realistic version of Heyman’s rumor would be that the Cubs are prepared to spend big this offseason, if the right opportunities present themselves and the team appears to be in a place where it makes sense to make those trajectory-altering additions. Which, sure, that’s still good to know, but it’s also a big difference.
One of the big reasons I’m careful to draw the distinction between what the Cubs WILL do and what the Cubs are PREPARED to do? The sheer volume of open-ended questions on the roster.
Even though we’re almost two months into the season, the Cubs still need to know so much more about guys like Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, Willson Contreras (will he even be around?), Nick Madrigal, Nico Hoerner, Brennen Davis, Justin Steele, Caleb Killian, Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, Adbert Alzolay, Codi Heuer, and so on before they can even begin to lay out big and specific plans for the offseason.
Unfortunately, a large swath of those players are currently injured or in the minors and are therefore delaying that process of planning for this offseason. So, yeah, sure … if we see nice performances from a majority (not even all) of those players, I believe the Cubs would be silly NOT to open the check book in a big way this offseason. But if the next four months go like these last two months have gone in terms of still-open-questions, then they might be just a little more reluctant to break the bank.
But that’s not to say someone like Brandon Nimmo, whom Heyman explicitly attaches to the Cubs, or a number of other free agents, wouldn’t still make sense either way. (Brett: Think about how Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki required $170 million in commitments in advance of a season we all knew had something like a 10% chance of being competitive. You sign those guys when they’re available because they make sense beyond just the one year. Realistically, you don’t turn a crap team into a division winner in a single offseason of free agent spending. It takes much more than that.)
To roll with Nimmo as an example …
Theoretically, the Cubs could be happy with a 2023 outfield that includes Ian Happ, Brennen Davis, and Seiya Suzuki from left to right, but each of those players comes with significant questions about their immediate future — Happ has only one year of team control remaining, Davis is not yet established, and Suzuki is still adjusting to MLB.
Meanwhile, Nimmo, 29, has been the 12th most valuable player in baseball this season, slashing .291/.384/.437 (141 wRC+), while playing above average center field defense for the Mets. If he’s open to the Cubs, you can easily envision his fit in Chicago (and you coordinate the rest from there).
My point here is that the Cubs ABSOLUTELY SHOULD have another nice spending offseason this winter, no matter what happens the rest of the way. But if we want to see them break the bank in the way Heyman seems to be hinting (think MULTIPLE guys like Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Jacob deGrom, Sean Manaea, Carlos Rodon, Noah Syndergaard, etc.), then a lot of key players will have to get healthy, stay healthy, and start stabilizing their big league performance soon.