Cubs Complete Outfield By Signing Dexter Fowler and Shane Victorino
In less than 24 hours, the Cubs have significantly altered their outfield situation for 2016. Yesterday, Dexter Fowler was re-signed to a one-year $8 million contract with a $5 million buyout or $9 million mutal option for 2017, and joined the team in a surprise, heart-warming moment. Fowler will start in CF and lead-off most days, with Jason Heyward now slotted for starting everyday in RF, with the ability to move to CF to give Fowler a dayoff or as part of late inning double switches. This significantly increases Heyward's value, since he is a strong right-fielder with little experience playing center. Jorge Soler will now back-up both RF and LF, perhaps forming part of a platoon with Kyle Schwarber in LF, playing against lefties. Soler has hit lefties and righties about equally well so far in his career (though with limited PAs to draw conclusions from). Though again in limited PAs, Schwarber has struggled aginst lefties, posting an OPS nearly 500 points lower than against righties. Similarly, Heyward has posted an OPS nearly 200 points lower against lefties than righties over his career.
To make room for Fowler on the roster, the versatile Chris Coghlan was traded to the Oakland Athletics for AAA starting pitcher Aaron Brooks, who has not produced much at the big league level, but is stretched out as starter, has minor league options left, keeps his walks down, and is cheap. This will be his age 26 season, so he still has some time to click, and presumably the Cubs at least saw some potential in him.
Today, the Cubs made their latest move by signing Shane Victorino to a minor league contract worth $1 million with an additional $1 million possible in incentives. Victorino struggled badly the last two years while battling a number of injuries, including some back issues. He had just 133 PAs with the Red Sox in 2014 and 204 PAs split between the Red Sox and Angels in 2015, and posted and OPS of just .635 combined over that time. He also abandoned switch hitting over those two seasons, hitting only right-handed because hitting left-handed aggrevated his injuries. This will also be his age 35 season, so it is not clear how much he has left in the tank. He claims he is healthy--but all free agents typically do that during the off-season--and there were rumors that he was back to switch-hitting, though we'll see if that materializes in spring training. If he is indeed healthy, then of course the upside potential is high. In 2013, before injuries set in, he put up an 801 OPS, was 21 for 24 in stolen bases, won a gold glove playing mostly RF, and had a WAR of 6.1. That was a career year though, and a repeat shouldn't be expected. Still, if healthy, he could bat .260 with some occasional pop, steal some bases at a high percentage, and back-up all three outfield spots with a strong arm. In addition, he has over 250 post-season at bats across 6 seasons, and has two World Series rings. And all of that is not bad for $1 million. If he really struggles or gets injuried again, he'll be cut in camp. But if he survives and plays at all decently he will almost certainly make the opening day roster, relegating Matt Szczur to AAA. With both Javy Baez and Ben Zobrist able to play OF if needed, the team now has sufficient abilty to cover those three positions and do a lot of defensive switching and playing matchups, which Joe Maddon likes to do.
With those two signings, that makes the opening day position player part of the roster essentially set, barring injury: Miguel Montero, David Ross, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Tommy La Stella, Addison Russell, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Shane Victorino, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Heyward. That would then leave 12 slots for pitchers. Assuming a rotation of Jake Arietta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks, that leaves a stiff competition for the final 7 bullpen spots between at least these 9 players, with injuries likely making the decision for the team to start the season:
Hector Rondon (R)
Pedro Strop (R)
Justin Grimm (R)
Neil Ramirez (R)
Rex Brothers (L)
Trevor Cahill (R)
Adam Warren (R)
Travis Wood (L)
Clayton Richard (L)
crunch 17 hours 38 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 17 hours 40 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 20 hours 36 min ago (view)
Corey Black still has a job.
Charlie 20 hours 43 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 57 min ago (view)
Couldn't have said it better myself, unfortunately.
JustSayin' 1 day 9 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 13 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 13 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 15 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 15 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 15 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 15 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 15 hours ago (view)
aww...de 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 22 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 22 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.