Dealing With Strengths
Speaking of impact hitter Arizona Phil yesterday was. And I agree: the Cubs should extend Derrek Lee this winter. I see the chances of Lee walking away after another fine year in 2006 as too high, and the consequences of that - the hostile fan reaction, the price and difficulty that would come with replacing him - as too dangerous. That said, I think a deal for Lee such as the one Arizona Phil was proposing is just as dangerous. So here's the pretty complicated new contract I propose the Cubs try to get Lee to sign this winter... In 2006, a guaranteed $13m, a $3.5m improvement or so on what he's owed for 2006 under the terms of his current deal. From 2007-09, a guaranteed $7m per year, with another $2m per year if he reaches 550 plate appearances, another $3m bonus for each top ten placing in NL MVP voting, another $3m bonus for each top three placing (such that a top three placing would earn him $6m in total). A $15m mutual option for 2010 versus a $3m buyout. Finally, a full no-trade clause up until the end of the 2007 season, and the right to block a trade to, say, five teams of his choice thereafter. In total, the deal could be worth anywhere between $37m/4yrs and $73m/5yrs. I did warn you it was pretty complicated. [UPDATE: Trying to build in protection against injury is somewhat superfluous because of the existence of such a thing as insurance, it now occurs to me. Duh! Given also that Lee's recent health history is as good as they come, I'd have little problem guaranteeing the money tied to plate appearances, as such taking the guaranteed money up to $43m/4yrs.] Why might Lee jump at it? Well, he can boost his 2006 salary here and now, and so start reaping the rewards of his superb 2005 right away, which he'd otherwise have to postpone until free agency. He also guarantees himself a very considerable amount of guaranteed money from 2007-09, money that he could quite easily never see if he pushes for free agency but succumbs to injury or has a terrible year in 2006. At the same time though, Lee isn't having to give up on a big pay day for the sake of immediate long-term financial security: this deal allows him to earn $15m a year every time he puts up MVP calibre numbers over a full season, which is roughly what he'd be looking at via free agency based on recent deals given to Konerko, Delgado and Thome. Neither is he completely giving up on the idea of ever seeing free agency, since the deal only ties him to the Cubs through his age 33 season. At that point, if he wanted, he could decline his half of the mutual option and try to get a another big contract on the free agent market. Finally, by signing this contract now, Lee shows loyalty to the Cubs and the city of Chicago, doesn't portray himself as a free agent mercenary, and he can book himself a nice long break in the Caribbean next winter rather than worrying about where his next home will be, where his next paycheck's coming from. Why should the Cubs jump at it? The Cubs show the same loyalty to Lee, they commit to him in advance and they offer him a no-trade clause. But the real key to this particular deal for the Cubs is that has its own built-in insurance. If Derrek Lee was for real in 2005, and Lee rattles off .300/.400/.600 seasons over the next few years, he gets paid accordingly, up to $73m/5yrs. But there's also the very realistic possibility that Lee reverts back to his old .270/.370/.500 self, that he gets injured, that he simply declines with age. Because a lot of the money in the deal is tied up in bonuses and the option, such that Lee would end up with no more than the equivalent of a $27.5m/3yr [UPDATE: $33.5m/3yr) free agent deal from, say, the Dodgers next winter if he were to go Todd Hundley on us, the Cubs can avoid a good chunk of the bad contract-ness. That's still actually better than Lee's current deal, and an awful lot of money, a bad contract still to be sure. Not that Lee's agent is likely to see things that way, maybe arguing that his client can get a much more guaranteed money if he just holds out for free agency. That though would raise the interesting contradiction that Lee trusts his ability to stay healthy and to hit for one year (long enough to get to free agency), but not for three or four. In that case, why should any team, presumably less subjectively bullish than Lee himself as to his career prospects, make him any kind of long-term big-money commitment? In other words, if Lee rejects this kind of deal on the grounds that there isn't enough guaranteed money involved, he's forsaking loyalty and earning his corn for the possibility of financially exploiting the sheer stupidity that strikes other General Managers when the free agent market gets in motion. Greed. I really don't think that that's what Lee's about, which is why I'd offer him this deal, confident that he'd like it, but if it is what he's about, he's probably not what the Cubs really need anyway. No, if that is what he's all about, maybe what we need is some non-tendered Hee Seop Choi! Well, maybe not. I rant and I rave at you these days, Jim, but credit where credit's due, great trade.
Arizona Phil 1 hour 43 min ago (view)
Beginning in 2019, a club must wait a minimum of seven days before it can place a player who was claimed off Outtright Assignment Waivers during the off-season back onto waivers, so because he was claimed off waivers on Wednesday 11/27, yesterday (Wednesday 12/4) was the first day the Cubs could place LHRP C. D. Pelham back onto Outright Assignment Waivers, and so tomorrow (Friday 12/6) is the first day the Cubs can send Pelham outright to the minors (if he was placed back onto waivers yesterday).
Arizona Phil 22 hours 30 min ago (view)
A Competitive Balance draft slot can be traded only during a period of time starting on December 2nd and extending up until two hours prior to the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft), so don't be surpised if these draft picks are traded during the off-season.
Keep in mind that the slot cannot be traded for cash unless it is a financial adjustment made to offset the salary of one or more of the players involved in the trade.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 32 min ago (view)
The active list roster limit changes scheduled to go in effect in 2020 have not yet been officially approved. Same goes for the three-batter minimum (or else record the third out in the inning) for relief pitchers.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 35 min ago (view)
And then the active list roster limit will expand from 26 to 28 on September 1st (max 14 pitchers in September).
Arizona Phil 22 hours 38 min ago (view)
The "26th man" who was added for doubleheaders will now be the "27th man" and he can be a pitcher.
crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
ATL signs cole hamels 1/18m...a'ite then.
also, z.wheeler 5/100+ to the phillies.
Charlie 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
I think without the off-field issues, a front-office might at least be tempted to gamble on Russell's youth and dreams of his upside. But with what we all know about him now, the challenges of improving both on and off the field are too great to gamble on.
George Altman 2 days 10 hours ago (view)
This was the easiest non-tender decision, maybe ever. As if there weren't enough off-field reasons alone, there were even more baseball reasons. He became a sub .700 OPS hitter with bottom of the order OBA results. His defense, formerly his strength, became inconsistent due to attention deficit issues. He turned himself into bench infielder with suspect skills which is someone you don't pay more than $1--1.5M/yr.
crunch 2 days 23 hours ago (view)
he was due for a 3.5-4m payday (3.4m last year) at a minimum, anyway.
it's as good of a time as any to cut him loose. nico hoener's spring just became a lot more important.
Craig A. 2 days 23 hours ago (view)
Addison Russell, to no one's surprise, was non-tendered. I still think he has the talent to excel in the major leagues, but it'll take a new attitude for him to realize his potential. It can't be easy to deal with his baggage in front of millions of fans. I won't forget his contributions in 2016, or that beautiful play that used to be the banner of TCR.
crunch 4 days 18 hours ago (view)
keuchel doesn't have draft pick compensation attached to him and he's a decent enough ground ball pitcher...that will be attractive to a lot of clubs. that would put 3 lefties in the cubs rotation (pending a trade) again, though. not sure they want to go for that look again.
that said, i still imagine the cubs are probably looking to make this thing happen via trade. it's hard to tell what their $$ situation is, but they've done a great job signaling they're not looking to spend $$ this offseason.
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 days 33 min ago (view)
Looking for impact starting pitchers, but won't be shopping at the top of the market? So I guess they won't be in the market for impact starting pitching.
Still hoping they find a taker for Q.
crunch 5 days 2 hours ago (view)
"Patrick Mooney of The Athletic writes the Cubs are in the market for impact starting pitchers but won't be shopping at the top of the market."
darvish, lester, hendricks, Q, (???, a.mills, t.chatwood)...pending trades
d.keuchel? r.porcello? trade target pitcher?
Arizona Phil 5 days 3 hours ago (view)
HAGSAG: I suspect going into his age 30 season and coming off a great year as a pinch-hitter, LaStella wanted a chance to be an everyday player, and since that obviously wasn't going to happen if he stayed with the Cubs, TLS (or his agent) may have asked the Cubs to trade him somewhere he could get that opportunity.
crunch 5 days 4 hours ago (view)
dunno any official reasoning, but his D is miserable and they decided to "upgrade" there with descalso for similar loot as well as getting a trade piece back. the whole a.russell thing was lingering over the team.
it's not like descalso is great with the glove, but la stella plays a miserable 2nd and meh 3rd.
i do wonder if things would have turned out differently if russell wasn't due to miss significant time.
Sonicwind75 5 days 7 hours ago (view)
Was just thinking about this, maybe that isn't a good thing for TLS? I wonder if Maddon will use TLS differently after seeing his success last year. That's my gripe with people complaining about Theo trading away a player that turns into an All Star. If TLS had stayed with the Cubs, Maddon would most likely kept using him in the same manner and with the same results.