Free Agents Predictions 2017

Congrats again to Ryno for winning this year's . Giving (almost?) everyone two points for picking the Cubs to win it all was the most enjoyable grading I've ever done. Now it's time for free agent fun!

Enter this year's . (Can you stand it!) I don't think I've ever been less interested in the Hot Stove--it's amazing what winning the World Series can do--but this might get me into it a little.

We'll run it just like last year, except that since predictions are hard (especially about the future), we'll move it up to 20 players, rather than 15. It's not like we have anything else to do. Let's make the deadline Nov. 15--or the first signing from the board, whichever comes first.

Good luck!


Hurray! I do terrible at these! The Prado on here is Martin, right? He signed a 3-year extension with the Marlins in early October.

Hot stove the past 2 years has produced Lester, Ross, Zobrist, Heyward, Lackey, Hammel and Fowler (sort of). Gonna be hard to top that.

I forgot about Prado. I put up Napoli, instead.

Fowler gets a qualifying offer from Cubs.

So much for the Gentlemen's agreement.

I don't think there's any such thing as a gentleman's agreement not to offer a guy a one-year $17-million contract. Nothing more gentlemanly than earning $17-million a year to play a bat and ball game.


  1. Mark Trumbo, Orioles
  2. Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, Mets
  4. Neil Walker, Mets
  5. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
  6. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
  7. Ian Desmond, Rangers
  8. Dexter Fowler, Cubs
  9. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
  10. Justin Turner, Dodgers

I might be over-simplifying here, but I think Fowler is 30 years old, won a W.S. ring, and is now ready for a big fat payday- I think he'll be looking for something more than a qualifying offer of 1/$17 mil. And so the aggressiveness with which the Cubs go after Fowler will tell us just how confident they are in Almora's abilities. If they let him go, maybe that means they have confidence in Almora to step in as a starter. And that's where I think the Cubs will land with the CF position- Almora starting in 2017.

If Almora starts in CF, that means one of the following is not in the starting lineup: Zobrist (RF), Schwarber (LF), Baez (2B) or Heyward (CF). Maybe Maddon will move Baez back to the utility role and put Zobrist at 2B, but, given Joe's love of defense, I don't see it happening.

Schwarber doesn't make sense on an NL team. You got to love the guy, but man... even at the beginning of 2016, Schwarber in LF left us with a lot of questions about defensive liabilities.

BILLYBUCKS: As things stand right now, I think an Almora/Heyward platoon in CF is the most-likely scenario, with Zobrist in RF and Schwarber in LF, and with Almora (in CF) and Heyward (in RF) both on the field to protect late-inning leads, with Zobrist moving to LF.

It's not as likely, but if Fowler were to accept the QO, there also could be a Baez/Heyward lineup platoon with Zobrist going back & forth between RF and 2B, depending on whether Heyward is starting vs a RHP or Baez is starting vs a LHP, with Heyward (in RF) and Baez (at 2B) both on the field to protect late-inning leads, with Zobrist moving to LF.

And I still wouldn't rule out the National League going to the DH. There are a lot of former A. L. guys running N. L. clubs now.

Hey CT, the Google Doc is in read-only mode. Can you please change it so we can participate? ;)

The link should be fixed. It's so hard to find good help around here.

Hendricks, Lester and Scherzer named the three finalists for the NL Cy Young - good stuff.

Bryant, Seager and Murphy are the NL MVP Finalists.

Maddon a finalist as well with Dusty and Roberts.

Only one Cub MVP finalist? We was robbed!

CRAIG A: It's actually good for the Cubs (business-wise) that Rizzo did not finish in the top two in MVP voting, because he is presently signed to a "team-friendly" contract that runs through 2021 ($7M in 2018, $11M in 2019, and $14.5M in 2020-21 with a $2M club option buy-out each season 2020-21, but his 2019-21 salaries increase by $1M if he wins one MVP or has two Top 5 MVP finishes 2013-19, and he may void the 2021 club option with a Top Two finish in MVP voting anytime 2013-19 and/or if he is traded.


SIGNED FOR 2017:   
Jason Heyward - $21.5M
Jon Lester - $20M
John Lackey - $17.5M
Ben Zobrist - $16M
Miguel Montero - $14M
Anthony Rizzo - $7M  
Jorge Soler - $3M
OTHER: Dexter Fowler ($5M severance) and Jason Hammel ($2M buy-out)
2017 SUB-TOTAL: $106M    

Jake Arrieta - $17M?
Justin Grimm - $2M?
Hector Rondon - $6M?
Pedro Strop - $5.5M?

Albert Almora Jr
Javy Baez
Aaron Brooks
Kris Bryant
Jake Buchanan
Jeimer Candelario
Gerardo Concepcion
Willson Contreras
Carl Edwards Jr
Kyle Hendricks
Pierce Johnson
Tommy LaStella 
Mike Montgomery
Spencer Patton
Felix Pena 
Jose Rosario
Zac Rosscup
Addison Russell
Kyle Schwarber
Matt Szczur
Christian Villanueva
Rob Zastryzny
ESTIMATED PROJECTED 2017 AUTO-RENEWAL SUB-TOTAL: $7.5M (majors) and $1.5M (minors) - $9M


: $161M+
2015 PAYROLL (PAID): $142M+


Thanks AZ Phil -- interesting stuff. If they go for a FA closer, next year's number could be about the same as this year. Lackey and Miggy come off the books next year -- there's $31MM to extend some guys!

BILLY BUCKS: Without knowing what the Cubs player payroll budget is for 2017, it's hard to know how much salary-space is available right now, but I would think it's probably at least $20M above present projected/estimated payroll commitments (an additional $10M+ could be available if the Cubs trade or non-tender Rondon or Strop, and Grimm, and rebuild the bullpen with young pre-arbitration arms like Edwards, Pena, Patton, et al).

So the Cubs could sign a high-priced closer (Jansen or Chapman) if they were so inclined, but they still need $$$ for a new Lester-catcher (and again, A. J. Ellis would seem to fit the bill) and probably one or two veteran relievers (of which at least one or maybe both would be lefties). And of course if Fowler were to accept the QO, then that's $17M+ in salary right there (Fowler gets his $5M severance whether or not he accepts the QO). 

But 2018 should be much better. Arrieta, Lackey, Montero, and Strop are free-agents after next season and the Fowler severance and Hammel buy-out go away, too, so that's $60M+ in payroll savings right there. 

On the negative side, Arrieta (a Scott Boras client) will be a tough re-sign, and Bryant, Russell, and Hendricks will be first-time salary-arbitration eligible post-2017 (Bryant and Russell will have  "Super Two" status, and both are Scott Boras clients, so extensions are unlikely), and Soler can opt-out of his first contract if he is eligible for salary arbitration (that's only if he thinks he can make more than $4M, which is what he's scheduled to get each season 2018-20) 

Still, the Cubs should be able to spend pretty freely post-2017, and replace Lackey and (if necessary) Arrieta with free-agent pitchers in the starting rotation if their young guys (Cease, Clifton, de la Cruz, Clark, Hatch, et al) aren't ready to step up.

Phil: Unless one of them is hurt to the point he won't be able to pitch effectively in 2017, non-tendering Rondon, Strop, or Grimm would be insanity, right? I'm just trying to figure out if you're suggesting that's in the realm of probability or if you are simply laying out options that are merely possible.

CHARLIE: With about $20M in payroll probably presently available in 2017, I was just laying out options for saving additional payroll in 2017 if Fowler accepts a QO AND the Cubs sign Jansen or Chapman, and a trade would actually be likely with regard to Rondon if the Cubs were to sign Jansen or Chapman. I don't think Strop is going anywhere unless he is standing between Fowler coming back AND the Cubs signing Jansen or Chapman, but Grimm ia a possible non-tender candidate no matter what happens.

Thanks, Phil!

Do you think the Cubs really see value is high-priced free agent closers, or was Chapman a one-time deal because the Cubs were doing so well and Maddon was nervous about Rondon and Strop?

CRAIG: I think Chapman and Jansen are in a class by themselves. They are game-changers. We're not talking Mark Melancon or even a pre-triceps strain Rondon here.

I think if the opportunity presents itself and the Cubs can fit one of them into their 2017 payroll, they will sign Jansen or Chapman (doesn't really matter which one).

An added benefit of signing Jansen or Chapman is that it means at most one of them can sign with Washington, San Francisco, or the Dodgers.

in a world where j.hellickson gets a $17m qualifying offer i feel that arrieta might be getting north of 20m given his past 3 years performance. they're not exactly related events, but it should make for some interesting $$ offer exchanges.

Always a silver lining.

Really surprised Terry Collins wasn't ahead of either Dusty of Joe. Usually, managers who win with very talented teams don't get a lot of votes, while managers whose teams overachieve, or overcome injuries, do. Must be that anti-NY media bias.

in terms of actual gentlemen agreements, it appears the Cubs and Hammel did have one. "...Hammel said, the Cubs honored a commitment they made when they signed him to a two-year, $20 million free-agent contract in Dec. 2014 — a commitment not to exercise his third-year option and trade him."

this is nice to hear as well...from Jason's wife Elissa “The families of the Cubs’ organization are treated like gold. And they know how that affects the player. I don’t think it’s just us. They know there is a ripple effect. You keep the family happy, you keep the player happy and the players can perform. They followed that mantra the entire time we were there.”

Or they could have just added a "no trade" clause in the contract for the third year.

“If they would have picked up my option, it very easily could have ended my career.” who knew the year's most dramatic statement by a ballplayer would happen after the season was over (the retired curt schilling doesn't count). thank god the cubs didn't end hammel's career. that was a close one. it sucks to lose the ability to trade him in this market. the phillies made their QO to jeremy hellickson today...this is the kind of guy worth keeping around for 17m on a 1 year deal in this market. knock 5m+ off that cost for a single season of hammel on the trade it would be greatly interesting, even if not spectacular. the reality of it all stings a bit, but at least the cubs aren't a team with huge needs or a small wallet. treating it all as some weird gentlemen's agreement means they've been building the team to plan around this eventuality it's ultimately only moot disappointment for the fans.

This is calculated altruism. You might lose a Hammel trade, but you also build a brand as a team who cares about it's players. A destination that might be worth playing for at less than market value a la Jason Heyward. Or maybe I'm just cynical. *shrug*

either way, no one but the fans and pundits were surprised about it until it was explained. the team wasn't counting on trading him for talent this offseason all along. it's probably for the best the cubs get one of the longer-club-controlled arms a decent amount of work rather than picking up hammel's option, too...even though it's a cheap one in this market. i still wonder how healthy his elbow is, but that will play itself out.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson says the team was ''extremely disappointed and frankly shocked'' that a domestic-violence complaint was filed against closer Jeurys Familia in a New Jersey court. The complaint, dated Oct. 31, alleges the All-Star pitcher caused ''bodily injury to another.'' ------ ...guys stawp! also, wtf mets closers the past couple years.

I think it's fair after this Hammel fiasco, the Cubs brass are demonstrating how over their head they are at managing a baseball operation.


that seems reasonable. counterpoint: hitler did nothing wrong

I'm pretty sure Theo cries himself to sleep at night with the awareness he's not prepared for the responsibilities given to him. Worst case of imposter syndrome ever.


I have watched some of the Cubs on TV stuff -- David Ross is a natural, and has been a great interview. I could see him in a broadcast booth, or maybe on the CSN pre/post game Cubs team.

A pair of notable front office changes took place today, as the Phillies announced that they’ve hired D-backs assistant GM Bryan Minniti as a special assistant to general manager Matt Klentak. The Diamondbacks clearly already had a replacement for Minniti lined up, however, as they announced this afternoon that they’ve hired Cubs director of professional scouting Jared Porter and named him senior vice president and assistant general manager.

I guess the Cubs winning the World Series really was going to bring about the onset of the end of the world.

Amen brother!


I wish it was a joke.  but the US will back out of the Paris climate agreement, the EPA may very well get defunded and corporations will be free to destroy the Earth. 

that's if North Korea or the someone else doesnt taunt Trump into using nuclear weapons first.

Yep. You got that right. I think about my kids' generation, actually. Gonna be fucked.

I'm literally furious at everyone today. Republicans, Democrats, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Clintons, people who should have voted but didn't, white bumpkins looking to get back at someone and blaming all their problems on the brown people... I'll get over it, but today I rage. And I ain't got time to listen to Jake Arrieta's political opinions.

If not the end of the world, at least the sunset of a certain foundation.

Time for Hollywood to pony up and head for the border #illhelpyoupack#beatit

I'm sure he's cancelling his cable subscription as we speak. Hopefully he'll be packing his Cubs bags next offseason.

Ugh. I wish athletes would stop actively putting up obstacles to rooting for them.

trading him to Toronto would be sweet justice....

Wait, am I reading that right? Is he telling all those out-of-touch libruls in Holly-weird to get out of his country now that Trump has won? Has anyone heard of his politics before now?

white sort-of college educated male from Texas...take a guess?

anyway, quite a few actors (and others) said they'd move to Canada if Trump won, I'm sure he was riffing on that.

anyway, Arrieta, Soler +1 for Stroman?

And very wealthy and paying high taxes. So, no, not a surprise he is a Republican. With that said, why on earth would he say something like that now? Nothing good can come of it, especially with a fan base from a state that voted overwhelmingly against Trump.

sadly, Cubs are spread out for the offseason that they can't visit the White House before the change of tenure. I hope they decline the invitation next year or exercise their personal rights and some withdraw on their own.

I am shocked and frightened by the results...but I do disagree with you here. I see an invitation to the White House being about the institution and not about who happens to be in the White House. I think if you are honored enough to receive an official white house invitation, you should respect the institution and go. With that said, there is an added element here that changes the dynamic, but still. I don't think protesting this does much of anything.

"Mr. President, remember last year when you said the team wasn't being run well?" "Wrong! Never said it. I have to go, but Secretary of the Interior Schilling will stay for the photo."

in most other circumstances I'd agree with you

but you only have so many opportunities to speak up and against neo-Nazism and fascism and make no doubts that is who he is and what he represents under those badly tailored suits.

not to mention the healthy number of minorities on the team and in the organization that you're telling to fuck off, plus the lesbian co-owner. I'd applaud it if they did it as an organization or as individuals (which of course would be a lot harder). It seems like Dex would be the guy to start something like that, but he won't be around. Also the likelihood of Trump in some fucked up way taking credit for the Cubs win would enrage me.

That all being said, this is down somewhere around #750 or lower on problems we have to face...

on cue... "Cubs looking to make White House visit before Obama leaves office and Trump takes over "

I assume it has more to do with the Chicago connection than politics, but it'll ruffle feathers nonetheless.

I assume they are just wanting to get it done sooner rather than waiting until January and that it has nothing to do with who is living there, but I could be wrong.

Would usually be during series vs Nationals

"Kyle Hendricks was named the 2016 Players Choice Award winner for NL Outstanding Pitcher." neat. it's not the cy young award, but whatever.

Can anyone explain why the Official Chicago Cubs roster includes Kawasaki? I get why Fowler was returned. He will disappear once he declines the QO, but why is Kawasaki still listed?

ALEXANDER: Dexter Fowler and Munenori Kawasaki are both free-agents and should not be listed on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster. The fact that Fowler was extended a QO did not automatically put him back on the 40. However, if Fowler were to accept the QO, he would immediately go back on the 40.

Normally Article XX-B free-agents are automatically declared free-agents at 9 AM (Eastern) on the day after the final game of the World Series (and that means the next day after the day that the last World Series game began, not when the game was completed, so even though Game #7 of the World Series ended early Thursday morning after midnight, it actually began Wednesday night, so Thursday is considered the day after the final game of the World Series for free-agency purposes). 

As a vested NPB player, Kawasaki is eligible to sign a non-uniform major league contract where he can receive Article XX-B contract rights (if the player and club agree) and can elect to be a free-agent, or, he can not file and (in his case) be eligible for salary arbitration instead. But he did file (but not right away), so he became an Article XX-B free-agent (just like Cahill, Chapman, Coghlan, et al), but he didn't become a FA at the same time as the others (because they were automatically declared free-agents, whereas Kawasaki had to actually file). It was only after he filed that he was removed from the Cubs MLB 40-man roster, but the transaction apparently went unnoticed at, although it was recorded & noted at the MLBPA site (which is authoritative). 

In the case of Fowler (and Hammel, too), they did not become free-agents automatically at 9 AM (Eastern) on the day after the last game of the World Series (like Cahill, Chapman, Coghlan, et al) because they had contract options that had to be exercised or declined, and the options were not officially declined until three or four days later, and it was only when the options were declined that Fowler and Hammel were removed from the 40, but again, one of the two transactions (Fowler declining the mutual option) was apparently missed at, although it was recorded & noted at the MLBPA site.

Thank you AZ Phil! It's odd because Fowler was removed for a few days but then returned when he was offered the QO. That's why I thought they put him back was because of the QO. I hadn't heard that Kawasaki had been offered a QO. I think this tells me to stop looking at the site for roster news and pay more attention to the Cub Reporter site. You guys have it right most of the time anyway.

STL is gonna stretch out t.rosenthal for a possible rotation spot. he threw 40.1ip last year, btw.

Sounds like a winner

rizzo wins the NL 1st base sliver slugger...his 1st.

Arrieta got one too

Nice for Rizzo, though Votto might've been more deserving. 2016 was a good opportunity for both of them to win some awards given Goldlschmidt's power outage.

Didn't see it mentioned here yet but I read on Cubs Den (John Aguello's site) that Jared Porter was recruited away from the Cubs. No word on what team Theo is going to do to replace or promote his spot.
Jared Porter, formerly the Director of Pro Scouting for the Cubs, to the position of Senior Vice President and Asst. GM. That is essentially the same title that Jason McLeod holds with the Cubs. Given that the job is a promotion, the Cubs will not receive any compensation.


CLOSER: Wondering if the Cubs are looking to the Pacific Rim at all for pitching/closer help? The Korean pitcher for the Cards did a nice job. I know they're out there. Just don't know much about who they are!

dat risk, tho. they've been burned before and a slew of these guy other teams have brought over who eventually ended up closing were brought over for middle relief work. still, i'm down for any arms race improvement for the pen. i wouldn't mind seeing them look into boone logan (yes, those numbers and splits with COL) for some middle relief lefty pen filling if he's cheap. it's hard to tell what's gonna be up. they really only have an immediate need for a closer (or a strong/dependable pen arm), and they got the loot, but they also got 2018+ to look to and pay for.

I know Madden lost trust in Rondon but he was great as a closer and only struggled in other roles. It's the thing I was worried about when they got Chapman because Rondon was never good when asked to do things other than close. I'd be perfectly happy with him moving back to that role though if Madden can regain the trust in him.

I think he started having problems when he came back from his injury. Before that (last year also), he was able to be effective in a set-up role.

Yeah, I'd look to the injuries to explain the struggles of both Rondon and Strop before I'd blame any change in roles.

I think that with Strop. I do think Madden constantly bringing Rondon into a dirty inning and lifting him at the first sign of trouble was not the best way to use him. He was not used to coming in with men om base and it would have been nice to get him more comfortable in his new role with more clean innings.

I have very little confidence in Strop. Maddon always seemed to know when to use him and when not to, but I can remember seeing him come in with 1 and 2 run leads and walking the leadoff hitter. That sooo irritates me. I don't think Strop has the command to be relied on in big playoff situations.

ra dickey and bartolo colon are braves...that AARP discount on roadtrip hotel rooms...that's moneysballs.

Lot of shitty players being moved around today, formerly know as Cubs season highlight day.

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  • crunch 3 hours 11 min ago (view)

    Chicago Cubs Thumbs Up GIF by NBC Sports Chicago


  • Alexander Dimm 3 hours 36 min ago (view)

    I'm in.  What more do we need, really.  A beer.  A game or two.  The 162 game season can wait until next year (I hope).  Have fun with a micro-mini season.  Let the powers fight over the labor agreements.  They can finish by next spring, right?


  • crunch 3 hours 48 min ago (view)

    2020 quickly shaping up to be the best season ever.


  • Cubster 5 hours 8 min ago (view)

    And a few kegs of beer. Hamberders too.


  • crunch 7 hours 20 min ago (view)

    they should just play a quick weekend tourney where no one actually wins and everyone gets a small participation trophy.

    declare the fans the MVPs and dedicate the series to everyone who has died in the history of humanity.

    ...then a free live-streamed Nickleback concert hosted by 2Pac's hologram


  • Charlie 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Lol at worrying about a second wave disrupting revenue.


  • Cubster 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    IN BRIEF (Tribune, from their mini-sports section):    In a letter, MLB rejects players’ plan for 114 gamesNews services Major League Baseball rejected the players’ proposal for a 114-game schedule in the pandemic-delayed season with no additional salary cuts, telling the union that teams have no reason to think 82 games is possible and now will discuss even fewer.Players made their proposal Sunday, five days after management’s initial economic plan.


  • Cubster 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    Pete Ricketts causing some backspin on their serve...Chi Tribune, Thursday AM:


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 25 min ago (view)

    Here are the last two Cubs minor league releases from this week (for a final total of 30): 

    Conor Lillis-White, LHP (acquired frrom LAA for Tommy LaStella post-2018 - missed 2019 season with hip flexor injury)

    Alberto Mineo, C-1B (has been quarantined in Italy since he re-signed with Cubs in February) 

    Lillis-White was eligible for selection in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, and Mineo was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2020 


  • Charlie 2 days 1 hour ago (view)

    Great read from players I came of age watching. Really shows how badly MLB needs to empower their players to speak in real time and not just after retiring.


  • crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    "A conversation: Retired African American MLB players on race, baseball, America"

    d.glanville, j.rollins, r.howard, d.willis, t.hunter, l.hawkins

    unlocked/free article.


  • Jackstraw 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    I'm trying to come up with scenarios where saying "The problem I have with you people....." really helps the conversation move forward constructively.  None really jump to mind.


  • crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    i still want proof that tom ricketts and ted cruz aren't the same person


  • Cubster 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

    Tom's older brother is an ass, even with an embarrassing apology.

    Here is the twitter video from Pastor Jarrod Parker:


  • Cubster 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    I agree.  Laura is the real deal. I think she was the major influence that showed Tom R. and Crane Kenney how to show a "human side" and deal realistically and in a non-threatening way, with the local Chicago politicians. Kenney was clearly clueless in his initial attempts regarding the neighborhood, the Rooftop owners, and the Wrigley Field rebuild. 


  • Hagsag 2 days 16 hours ago (view)

    I am a Laura Ricketts fan. To hell with the rest of them.