UPDATE: Fowler's homecoming and Desmond going to the Rangers means we have a tie for first place: billybucks and Robert Marciano. How's that for maximum late inning drama!

Everyone but Desmond is off the board, so congrats to billybucks for his win in the . It turns out that the predictions business is something of a blood sport and not exactly easy (see Y. Berra).

While billy is doing his victory lap, the rest of you can start your prognostication engines for the Thanks to WISCGRAD for his kind assistance in putting this together. 

We'll run it the same way--with the Google doc, which makes my life that much easier. Let's say that it closes at 12pmCST on Opening Day, April 3.

And good luck! You're going to need it.


Well, first of all, I'd like to thank the players, because without them this wouldn't be possible. And, of course, the GMs and owners, who are so important in the process. Oh, and the agents! Can't forget the agents... ~~orchestra music slowly builds~~...and, and the media!, they are a big part of this, too ~~music steadily builds, rendering the rest of my acceptance speech inaudible as I am led offstage~~...

I only have view only access to the 2016 predictions spreadsheet.

Whoops, try it again.

BILLYBUCKS: Congratulations.

I enjoyed your acceptance speech. 


Heyward signing Being a Cardinal fan for many, many years I watch many of their games, and, of course the Cubs rivalry. I want to thank the Cubs for getting Hayward because he was more of a let down for us offensively. His offensive stats were not as good as Dexter Fowler's, and struck out to much, many with the bat on his shoulder. P Good luck with him, but if you would have resigned Fowler you would have may more $$$$$$'s still in your pocket!

may have more $$$$$$$ still in your pocket yum, more money. Moran.

Why did Cards offer him more money then?

Fowler was better. Fowler .250/.346/.411... Heyward .291/.359/.439 Heyward is much better defensively, struck out less, got on base more..and is younger. Okay. Thanks for the effort though Troll. Heyward is overpaid, but He's a better player.

Well, let's fact check this: OBP: JH .357, DF .346. Advantage Heyward OPS: JH .798, DF .757. Advantage Heyward SB: JH 23/26, DF 20/27. Advantage Heyward. WAR: JH 6.5, DF 2.2. Huge advantage Heyward. K: JH 90, DF 154. Advantage Heyward. I like Dexter, but to say Heyward's stats weren't as good as Fowler's is truly moranic.

That was remarkably quick -- about 30 minutes after the moran's post, the Cubs re-sign Fowler. Creepy.

The Cardinals beat up on the Cubs for years. You can take your beatings now for a change. Regarding Heyward- I dreaded him coming up to bat last year, he was such a tough out with a disciplined strike zone. He would just foul off pitch after pitch until he got one he liked or got walked.

Hey now...

Coghlan gone. Someone use the Internet to tell me if I'm happy.

Best post ever.

And that's a last minute +3 for John Beasley in the Contest, which means he joins the second place scrum.

Az Phil, scouting report on Aaron Brooks please. Thank you.

Wonder what they see in Aaron Brooks? I guess it's more AAA depth and clears a roster spot for someone else (CF backup with defensive chops). Also, Cogs was due $4.8M this year so it's "cash in our pockets" (as the cardinal dude says the cubs should have done with Fowler/Heyward) per mlbtr...Maybe Brooks can be flipped for Zobrist again (unpossible says Ralphie Wiggums)
Brooks, 25, was acquired by the A’s late last season in the Ben Zobrist trade. He made nine starts for the A’s in 11 appearances with forgettable results. His 6.71 ERA was a sight worse than his 6.18 K/9 and 2.47 BB/9.
Now Arismendy Alcantara and Matt Szczur are the top backup outfielders on the depth chart. Of course, that also overlooks Javier Baez who is expected to be used in a super utility role.

I assume this means more AB for Javy and LaStella. Also, possibly good news for Szcur as a defensive replacement for Jorge.

I see Szczur filling three roles: He is a good defensive fill-in for Soler or Schwarber. He is the fastest runner on the roster. He has shown potential as RH pinch-hitter.

"Wonder what they see in Aaron Brooks?" Ryan Williams type? Strikeouts on the low side of respectable, but walks are very low: 1.9 BB/9 in five seasons in the minors. Brooks, that is. No one can come near Williams's 2 walks in 53.2 innings (18.50 SO/W) at South Bend last year. Kyle Hendricks also relevant here.

Did the Cubs just sign Fowler?

So it appears... whoa!


Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 31s31 seconds ago Dexter Fowler has re-signed with the #Cubs, per @MDGonzales. One year deal with mutual option.

One year with a mutual option for 2017... Theo wins again.

Must have been because his offensive stats were so much better than Heyward's.

Wow. More deals to come? Soler? I really hope not.

All depends on what they get back.

He'll be gone, need to edit my Soler game prediction. :/)

If Soler gets traded, I refuse to return my FA Picker championship trophy (I already sold it on ebay).

If Soler gets traded, I hope Brooks goes with him.

i knew something weird happened when i checked TCR to see 20 new comments since i last checked not too long ago... ...wasn't expecting fowler...especially after it was reported on tuesday he had signed with the O's. there's either a $13m 4th OF'r...or soler's about to go...or something. *shrug*

Schwarber/Soler lf platoon /faints

Hearing Fowler gets: 2016 $8 mill 2017 option- $9 mill. $5 mill Buyout.

Theo says no more trades for now.

LHRP Zac Rosscup to the 60-day DL (shoulder) 

More catching for Schwarber?

If there truly won't be anymore trades then this is my thought. Only way Fowler makes sense is if they have Schwarber catching more than anyone thought.

no more trades but they're completely backed up at almost every position. I don't believe no more trades.

I just heard the Theo interview and while obviously he's not committed to anything he says is a great trade were to open up he was very clear and firm in saying there would be no more trades. I sort of believe him. Also Soler will be playing some LF and Heyward will be playing a lot more RF.

Another player leaving money on the table in order to play with the Cubs. If/when Fowler starts, does he lead off, Heyward 2 and Zobrist bats 6/7 taking either Soler's or Montero's spots. My brain is having a hard time wrapping around playing time and batting orders. Assuming no injuries or trades, I could see starting the game with an offense first line up and then moving to a defense first as the game dictates. Amazing depth, this team could absorb multiple position player injuries and keep starting a great line up.

With all these position players, there's still no real backup for Rizzo, he of the lean in batting strategy. Theo has done a real shit job building this roster.

I bet Murton could play first. He is the missing piece to this roster. Bring him up!

Oh Lord, I already forgot about Murton. The depth of this team is almost staggering. If they don't pull a Golden State Warriors I'll be disappointed. I did actually have a dream where the Cubs were something like, 53-17. I don't have any idea why my dream cloud came up with that number.

Madden just said Baez is Rizzo's backup so he's just gonna play everywhere.

"MASN's Roch Kubatko reported Tuesday evening that Fowler had agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Orioles, but that deal apparently fell apart when the 29-year-old requested an opt-out after the 2016 season."

per mlbtr (pre-Fowler news):
It’s possible the Cubs are narrowing on a free agent outfield acquisition. Top available names include Austin Jackson, David DeJesus, and Shane Victorino. Ian Desmond could also be viewed as an option.
someone here must be really happy to see Austin Jackson speculation get crushed like an empty beer cup

"Free agent Austin Jackson recently turned down a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $5-6 million from the Angels, according to Alden Gonzalez of" good luck with what's coming after that ajax...

Front office supposedly claiming there's no trade in mind following the Fowler signing, but there's a serious OF surplus unless Schwarber gets a lot of C time and Baez gets a ton of infield time. While Soler seems most likely to be on the block, that does make the lineup (the OF in particular) very left-handed. Kind of don't understand how Fowler fits, but the contract seems too reasonable to pass up given that the two-year cost is so close now to the qualifying offer they made way back when.

I won't be able to say "bring him up" this year. There's no place for anyone.

This is a good, patient way to run an organization. There's a nice contest in the minors for CF-of-the-future but Almora and the others can feel comfortable turning their phones off at the movies. It's not going to ring anyway.

using soler as a part-time player would be both a hell of a great luxury and a hell of a waste. i would be willing to bet soler was good as gone if they didn't get rid of coghlan so quickly. heyward isn't very good vs lefties (as well as sapped of power) and soler in LF would be a good time to rest schwarb vs lefties (really bad, but small sample size, etc) there's that to consider from the team's POV, too. i'm kinda leaning toward the team actually going with this setup. hopefully soler isn't going to throw a fit about it.

I get that Soler is a great bat, but he has some work to do defensively.

Didn't they just trade Coughlan? I assume this is the trade that corresponds to the Fowler signing and Soler gets relegated to the Coughlan role as 4th outfielder, Baez as the backup middle infielder. Fowler easily slots in as the leadoff hitter: Fowler CF, Zobrist 2B, Heyward RF, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Schwarber LF, Montero C, Russell SS, Pitcher Crazy.

vs AL (and opening day and Angels): Fowler, Zobrist, Heyward, Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber (DH), Soler (LF), Montero, Russell two switch hitters at the top of the lineup, might be a Cub first.

But Coghlan is a borderline 4th outfielder/bargain starter. Soler is a coveted power prospect and Fowler is a legit starting CF. Both seem slightly wasted as part-time players.

Maybe on most teams, but this isn't just any team, this is the Chicago Friggin Cubs. The cream of the crop. Excellence.

The hell?

Happy birthday, Ron Santo!

WIN TOTALS: The E-Man is going 93-69 for 2016 Put 'em up, bitches.

Lost in the Fowler stuff are some rule changes. Managers will only get 30 seconds on the mound, rolling double play break up attempts are banned and neighborhood plays are reviewable.

Those all seem like positive changes to me. 30 seconds actually seems long to me, but I guess if you count the walk to the mound and the walk back, then it makes sense. Don Cooper doesn't move too fast, so he'll have to talk quick.

The neighborhood review is just gonna slow play down some more, imo.

The neighborhood play able to be reviewed might lead to more injuries is the concern I have with it. Right now the defender is able to get out of the way quickly and with this change they might be forced to stay longer in the path of the slider.

Oh, man. These predictions about what Maddon is going to do are flippin' hilarious.

Sad to see Coghlan go. I really liked the guy and his versatility. Maddon said Coghlan was very upset with the news. I feel for the guy. Brooks is a AAA pitcher who is stretched out as a starter and has some options left, so he can bounce up and down if needed. He hasn't had much success at the big league level yet, but did OK at AAA and keeps his walks down. That trade mainly saves some payroll. Overall, these moves definitley make the team stronger. And it also seems like Fowler brings some intangible clubhouse benefits, the players really seem to like him and the story of his surprise return today was fun to read. 

brooks has a fastball, change, and a slider...nice control...but he has been hit rather strongly on every level he's played from rookie level on. i don't recall how he looks pitching, just going by the numbers over here. that said, i'm a little surprised cog wasn't worth more or another target searched out even though brooks technically has some upside (and club control) to match his tools.

Aaron Brooks and Dallas Beeler have similar stuff and a similar profile. Both project as AAA starting pitching depth in 2016, and both have one minor league option left, so they'll both be out of minor league options this time next year. 

Brooks + Bosio = Ace

I really liked Coghlan a lot. He could do worse though than being in Oakland (the Coliseum notwithstanding). So if you're gonna get traded, the Bay Area isn't the worst place to go, and he may even be able to afford a small apartment there.

Coghlan = square peg. Hits like a centerfielder but can't play center. Nice bat (and at-bats) but doesn't thump like an LF.

Had to be a tough day to be Chris Coghlan yesterday. While you are packing your bags to leave town, there is a love-fest Dexter reunion going on outside. Nobody really said anything about the guy, who was a solid contributor last year and played some decent 2B when asked.

wRC+ for LF vs CF vs RF over last 5 years:

  • 2015: 99 (LF), 101 (CF), 107 (RF)
  • 2014: 103, 103, 100
  • 2013: 99, 99, 105
  • 2012: 103, 101, 104
  • 2011: 99, 101, 109

We now have a natural leadoff man and 4 strong outfielders allowing for a platoon if Schwarber doesn't figure out how to hit Lefties. Also dramatically improves our defense in Right Field. I see zero downside to this.

The Cubs won't pick until the end of the 3rd round, plus they are restricted on the international front. It's safe to say 2016 will not be a banner year for young talent acquisition. Still loving the move for Fowler. It's just the gray lining.

Ar present, Jorge Soler is signed to a nine-year contract that runs through 2020 and that will pay him $3M in both 2016 and 2017, and $4M per season in 2018, 2019, and 2020, However, Soler is eligible to opt-out of the contract if he is eligible for salary arbitration, and (at present) he is on target to be eligible for salary arbitration post-2017.

However, opting-out when he is eligible for salary arbitration will NOT make Soler a free-agent. Rather, opting-out will only terminate his present contract, but he will remain under club control and be eligible for salary arbitration until the conclusion of the season in which he accrues at least six years of MLB Service Time. 

So (as things stand right now), Soler will be eligible for salary arbitration (making him eligible to opt-out of his current contract) post-2017, and he will be eligible to be a free-agent post-2020. 

Soler has used three minor league options, but he is eligible for a 4th minor league option that can be used in either 2016 or 2017 (but not both seasons), and if he spends at least 45 days on optional assignment to the minors in either 2016 or 2017, he would remain under club control through the 2021 season instead of through 2020, although he would still be eligible for salary arbitration post-2017 (as a "Super Two"). Therefore, the Cubs could buy an extra year of club control over Jorge Soler (without changing his eligibility for salary arbitration and the right to opt-out of his contract post-2017) if he is optioned to the minors for at least 45 days in either 2016 or 2017. 

While the Cubs cannot overtly send Soler to the minors just to buy another year of club control (Soler and his agent would certainly file a grievance if it was presented that way), if there is a plausible reason to option Soler to the minors in 2016 (let's say), it wouldn't be the worst thing to happen (at least from the Cubs POV) if it buys another year of club control. 

For example, Matt Szczur is out of minor league options, and the Cubs could option Soler to the minors at the end of Spring Training and keep Szczur on the MLB 25-man roster at the start of the 2016 season somply because Szczur is out of minor league options (a perfectly plausible reason to keep Szczur over Soler, something that has been done by MLB clubs at the end of Spring Training many, many times over many, many decades), and then recall Soler from the minors sometime after he spends at least 45 days on optional assignment. 

Again, optioning Soler to the minors cannot be done overtly just to gain an extra year of club control, just like the Cubs could not come out and say publicly that the reason Kris Bryant and Addison Russell were sent to Iowa to start the 2015 season was to make sure that they would not get credit for a full season of MLB Service Time in 2015 (thus delaying free-agency for both players to post-2021 rather than post-2020), even though that was clearly the real reason.

But if it is presented in a way that is not a matter of sending Soler to the minors just to gain an extra year of club control, but rather because he needs to get regular playing time and because of roster pressure related to wanting to keep players who are out of minor league options (like Neil Ramirez, Matt Szczur, and Christian Villanueva) on the MLB 25-man roster rather than risk losing the player to another club off waivers, then it could be done (for a minimum of 45 days), if the Cubs were so inclined to do so. 

That's interesting/awesome.

As I see it after a day of surprises, the Cubs have traded Coghlan for Fowler as a spare outfielder. I like the move. Fowler can actually play center field. He hits lefties better than righties, and the Cubs have two outfielders (Heyward and Schwarber) who hit less well against lefties. I see a lot of guys playing 135 games (there are hints on FanGraphs that this is the New Thing), a lot of lineups based on matchups, a lot of pulling Schwarber and Soler after the sixth inning, and a lot of Baez playing second base and Zobrist (who lately has also been hitting lefties well) as the supersub. Of course, Soler could get traded tomorrow, but I think this is unlikely. I think today's events have improved the Cubs' prospects, and I am digging the new wave of thinking from the front office.

Great move in signing Fowler back. He had a great 2015. Sad news trading Coughlin he also contributed very well in 2015, and filled in every time he was called upon I sure would have loved to see him with my Cardinals. I believe Soler and Baez won't last the season with the Cubs. GO REDBIRDS'

cheer up...there's always mike leake and the ability to go on cubs fan boards to talk about mike leake. maybe save up for a jedd gyorko or brayan pena jersey... that might be fun.

I'll take odds on Baez and Soler lasting the season more than I will Carpenter (nice job in the NLDS against us, right?).

Assuming the Dexter deal is for one year, and assuming the Cubs are serious abut making Schwarber a catcher, I don't get the logic of trading Soler, unless the Cubs are higher on Javy than Jorge for OF.

Relax dude. Somebody leaked something about your client's intent. It happens all the time.

looks like A's are considering Coghlan their new "Zobrist" Coghlan was 3rd on the Cubs "Zobrist" depth chart after Zobrist and Baez. Crazy concept, the Zobrist depth chart.

AZ Phil: Do you recall any Cubs team that had two switch hitters at the top of their lineup (assuming Fowler, Zobrist bat 1-2)? The last major league team to have this?

Cubs 6, Padres 0, July 22, 2014. Bonifacio leading off, Alcantara batting second. (Wrong Phil, sorry.)

Why do so many assume Fowler will bat 1st? If I have the option, I day Heyward gets that spit and Fowler maybe steals some #2 spot chances from Zobrist, who gets pushed behind rizzo, Bryant, and Schwarber on those days.

I think we assume so because Maddon has said so:

"When he plays, he should probably be the leadoff guy," Maddon said. "Everybody has to play. There's days he may not be playing and he may not be the leadoff guy and coming off the bench."

Oof. Then maybe the question is why is Maddon thinking that way? Didn't we just do Heyward to Fowler comps yesterday?

McGee/Coleman 80s Cards

It's actually not as uncommon as you might think. There have been a number of key top of the order switch hitters and at some point in their careers they have been paired with another switch hitter at the top. Pete Rose and Tim Raines did 1-2 for a while for the Expos, Jose Reyes paired with Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo for the Mets, Devon White and Roberto Alomar for the Blue Jays, etc.

CUBSTER: Not every day, but Rodney Scott & Jerry White the latter half of '78, Bump Wills & Larry Bowa in '82, and Don Kessinger & Paul Popovich whenever Glenn Beckert wasn't in the lineup (which wasn't very often) during the Durocher years.

On a separate note, I hope the Pirates can find a way to keep McCutchen. He's my favorite ballplayer not wearing blue, and I like the Pirates and their ability to grow the team from the inside. It's bad for baseball if he leaves Pittsburgh.

Well said.

So the old Saints QB took some Sammy Sosa cream and came out of retirement and switch sports to try to play baseball??

And for today's OF signing, Shane Victorino gets a minor league deal with the Cubs.

Shane Victorino is the third post-2015 Article XX-B MLB free-agent signed by the Cubs to a 2016 minor league contract (LHRP Manny Parra and INF Munenori Kawasaki are the other two). 

If an Article XX-B MLB free-agent signs a minor league contract at least ten days prior to MLB Opening Day, and then is either not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or MLB Disabled List by 3 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day, the player automatically receives a $100,000 retention bonus, and the player can unilaterally opt-out of the minor league contract on June 1st if he has not been added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or an MLB Disabled List by that date.

I cant believe what I am seeing here! Just keep adding Theo.

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  • crunch 18 hours 32 min ago (view)

    don't worry, i'm sure even though he was spared from cuts there's some hardship he's being tortured with that he has to unfairly overcome.  #coreystrong #onthecross #yolo #swag #kony2012


  • crunch 18 hours 33 min ago (view)

    there's no way a system like that or something similar to that would work.

    "oh hi." - green bay packers

    *shoves out of way*

    like i said, there's no way that would work.


  • Hagsag 21 hours 29 min ago (view)

    Corey Black still has a job.


  • Charlie 21 hours 37 min ago (view)

    I am ready for MLB owners to give it a f***ing rest. I don't have any outrage to spare on them.

    If they can't afford this crisis, maybe they can surrender franchise rights to the players, grounds crew, concession employees, etc., and MLB teams can be employee owned.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    Couldn't have said it better myself, unfortunately.


  • JustSayin' 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    These players weren't cut/released; laid off is more like it. Fifty-two minor leaguers let go before any real games played, in two waves. The draft will be five rounds this year, not forty.  This is industrial downsizing, anticipating no traditional season this year and capitulation to MLB demands for a much smaller minor league system in 2021.  Next year or 2022 could also see a labor stoppage in the big leagues, over what promises to be a very tough CBA negotiation.  The game will not be what it used to be after this.


  • crunch 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    i don't blame the ownership/font office for doing what they did with bryant.  it was just kinda bad timing that bryant was the client that boras was finally "i'm sick of this" over.  the cubs were warned that boras was going to make a stand and it dragged on so long there has to be some kind of toll on the boras/cubs relationship.


  • bigsky33 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    Hi Phil, yes, hoping for an extended AZ Fall League.  Do you think there will be more cuts?  De La Cruz was the only big sureprise to me. I thought he had some upside. 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    It'll be more over when Kris leaves. Or whenever the same thing happens to another of his clients.

    He isn't wrong though...


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    Presuming there is no traditional minor league season in 2020, expect an expanded Arizona Fall League (with potentially a new "Florida Fall League" as well) for the best prospects and expanded post-season instructs for other minor leaguers (all TBA). 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    My understanding is that the other two Cubs minor leaguers who are to be released are the two post-2019 Article XX-B MLB free-agents who signed 2020 minor league contracts, Brandon Morrow and Jason Kipnis. The Cubs will then supposedly re-sign them to new minor league contracts without the $100K retention bonus and 6/1 opt-out. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    CRUNCH: Agreed. Not counting the "4-A" guys, Oscar de la Cruz is the one legit MLB prospect on the list.  


  • crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view) la cruz had some decent looking spring outings (though late inning spring work isn't exactly challenging).  the years of injuries insanely slowed his progression.  totally wouldn't mind seeing him return in 2021 if the team would still be on his radar after getting cut at a time like this.


  • crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    that whole "kris bryant thing" is over...but it's never going to be over as long as this ownership group and boras is around.

    boras could have focused this on 29 other teams, especially the more vocal ones because the cubs have been mostly silent.  the cubs aren't the only team out there paying off "creatively financed" loans, either.

    he chose the cubs.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    Not looking forward to seeing that list. Hate to see it when a guy you've invested any sort of energy in is given up on.


  • Cubster 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    Chi Tribune today. Boras picks, and focused on the Ricketts. 

    Headline writer, fun job: Agent won’t let Cubs get away Scott-free Matt York/AP and Paul Sullivan.

    Boras told his players “the game can not be played without you” and asked them to share the concept with teammates and opposing players when “MLB requests further concessions or deferral of salaries” during negotiations.