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)
Charlie 3 hours 15 min ago (view)
Yeah, it seems like I lean more toward overvaluing Bryant than most commenters here. Also, I completely stopped following prospect lists once the Cubs were good again, so I'm out of the loop on Pache especially. I had imagined that the Cubs would be looking more for immediate major league value rather than a projectable prospect, but I guess if you really like Pache you don't mind waiting a couple years.
K Dub 9 hours 59 min ago (view)
PHIL: Excellent breakdown, Phil. Thanks.
I'm sure you heard. QO value was set at $17.8 million the day after you made your post.
K Dub 10 hours 7 min ago (view)
Pache, Wright, Muller and Riley feels light to you, Charlie? I respect your opinion, but I would jump at it. I highly doubt the Braves would do it, though. Were talking 2 years of Bryant at what could be 18 million and 28-30 million in his last year of arbitration.
The Cubs would be hurting their chances next year and building for 2021 in a deal like that, but that's rebuilding/retooling in one fell swoop.
Arizona Phil 2 days 14 hours ago (view)
CHARLIE: Austin Riley is actually a third-baseman but he had to play LF for the Braves in 2019 because he was blocked by Josh Donaldson, and Cristian Pache is considered to be the best defensive centerfielder in the minors and his bat has improved enough over the past year or two to where he is now rated in or just outside the top ten overall prospects in MLB.
So a package that includes Riley and Pache and one of the Braves young MLB or MLB-ready SP would probably be more than enough to get the Cubs to bite.
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 17 hours ago (view)
Max Fried or Bryse Wilson
crunch 2 days 17 hours ago (view)
t.skaggs story keeps getting deeper.
allegations the team knew about skagg's drug abuse (also his family). teams are required to report this to MLB.
Charlie 2 days 20 hours ago (view)
Except for the headline, the linked post reads more like a trade hypothetical than a trade rumor. I like the idea of looking at this package as a discussion point for expected return for Bryant. I would say it feels a little light to me. It's deep, with two decent outfield prospects with upside and two OK pitching prospects. But Riley doesn't help the team solve the CF problem right now, so he's either redundant to Bote or sort of a Schwarber replacement. Muller's inflated BB% at AA this year worries me a bit too.
crunch 4 days 16 hours ago (view)
they get 3 guys and the cubs get 1 guy. sounds like a slam dunk for the angels. pencil trout in the cubs lineup. he's got upside.
Jackstraw 4 days 18 hours ago (view)
I'd hate to part with both Kemp and Chatwood, but if it will bring that Trout guy back, we could even throw in Almora.
crunch 4 days 21 hours ago (view)
the ricketts got a brazillian dollar tax break...they need to trickle that down and flex on the entire league.
we gonna get grandal, rendon, castellanos, g.cole, strasburg, ryu, a.chapman...maybe sign bumgarner and odorizzi to work the pen.
Arizona Phil 4 days 22 hours ago (view)
CHARLIE: If the Cubs trade Quintana and his new club pays 100% of his 2020 salary his new club assumes 100% of his salary AAV liability, but if the Cubs agree to pay a portion of Quintana's 2020 salary as part of the trade, whatever portion of Quintana's 2020 salary that is paid by the Cubs would count against the Cubs 2020 AAV.
Charlie 4 days 23 hours ago (view)
PHIL: Thanks for that Boston context--I hadn't realized the trend there. If the Cubs did decide to pick up Quintana's option and then trade him (assuming the Cubs would not agree to pay part of the contract as part of the trade), do they have to do that by a certain date in order for Quintana's contract not to count against them for the CBT? I haven't been able to find any dates attached to the CBT in a quick internet search.
Arizona Phil 4 days 23 hours ago (view)
My presumption in the Cubs declining Jose Quintana's 2020 club option as well as declining the club options on the veteran relievers who have one and non-tendering Addison Russell (and this also applies to Joe Maddon not returning as manager in 2020) is that after the monumental late-September collapse of 2019 on the heels of the 2018 Game #163 and Wild Card game defeats Ricketts will no longer accept the Cubs payroll going over the CBT threshold ($208M AAV in 2020) or extending a manager making $5M a year.
crunch 5 days 5 hours ago (view)
i actually like ATL the team...the fans and the 3+ hours of tommy hawk chawpin' non-stop is beyond annoying before even getting into how messed up it is they're still doing that in 2019. it's all they do, just that 1 single thing...for hours...
fans were so upset about not getting foam hatchets pre-game yesterday (that was the club's way to "dial it back") they were busy letting the "PC police" know they're here to chant and chop as loud as they could before the first pitch was even thrown.
it took about 10 runs to shut them up.
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 days 18 hours ago (view)
Damn. Atlanta was the only team in the NL I was hoping would advance. I don’t know what I was hoping in LA vs WAS series. Cataclysmic event? (Side note, I live in the DC area, what a dreadful group of fans. They deserve nothing good ever.)