Cubs MLB Roster

Cubs Organizational Depth Chart
40-Man Roster Info

59 players are at MLB Spring Training 

40 players are on the MLB RESERVE LIST (roster is full) 
19 players are MLB Spring Training NON-ROSTER INVITEES (NRI) 

Last updated 2-6-2024
 
* bats or throws left
# bats both

PITCHERS: 22
Yency Almonte
Adbert Alzolay 
Michael Arias
Javier Assad
Ben Brown
Jose Cuas
Kyle Hendricks
Porter Hodge
* Bailey Horn
* Shota Imanaga
Caleb Kilian
Mark Leiter Jr
* Luke Little
Julian Merryweather
Hector Neris 
Daniel Palencia
* Drew Smyly
* Justin Steele
Jameson Taillon
Keegan Thompson
Hayden Wesneski 
* Jordan Wicks

NRI PITCHERS: 11 
Colten Brewer 
Chris Clarke 
Carl Edwards Jr 
* Edwin Escobar 
* Richard Lovelady 
Sam McWilliams 
* Thomas Pannone 
Ethan Roberts 
Cam Sanders 
Riley Thompson 
* Brad Wieck 

CATCHERS: 2
Miguel Amaya
Yan Gomes

NRI CATCHERS: 4  
Jorge Alfaro 
Pablo Aliendo
Joe Hudson 
* Bryce Windham

INFIELDERS: 9
* Michael Busch 
Nico Hoerner
Nick Madrigal
* Miles Mastrobuoni
* Matt Mervis
Christopher Morel
Dansby Swanson
Luis Vazquez
Patrick Wisdom

NRI INFIELDERS: 3 
David Bote 
Matt Shaw 
Chase Strumpf 

OUTFIELDERS: 7
Kevin Alcantara
Alexander Canario
* Pete Crow-Armstrong
Brennen Davis
# Ian Happ
Seiya Suzuki
* Mike Tauchman 

NRI OUTFIELDERS: 1 
* Owen Caissie  
 



Minor League Rosters
Rule 5 Draft 
Minor League Free-Agents

Offseason Update: Shota Imanaga

1/11/24: The Cubs finalized their deal with Imanaga, settling on four years and an option for the fifth with some additional complexities. Today, they also traded Zyhir Hope and Jackson Ferris for DH/Corner IF Michael Busch and RP Yency Almonte. Busch looks to be competing with Morel, Mervis, and Wisdom for playing time, assuming none of them get traded before Spring Training. Catcher Brian Serven has been DFA'd to make room on the 40-man.

 

1/10/24: Reports today and yesterday say the Cubs are finalizing a deal with NPB veteran starting pitcher Shota Imanaga. Details of the contract have yet to be made official. However, early reports indicate the deal will include opt outs and escalators creating a significant range of total years covered. A physical is pending and all details must be determined before Imanaga's posting window closes on the 11th. More to come soon. 

Continue your discussion of offseason roster moves below!

Comments

here's to hoping he's not drew smyly 2.0

if he can put up 170+ innings without giving up 30+ homers that would be a nice start on both fronts.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Without looking at the schedule closely, it's not too hard to imagine him getting 25-27 starts in this first season and taking advantage of opportunities for extra rest. Then push to 30 or so in the next year. Voila. Tendons and ligaments and obliques will have their say, of course. 

 

I'd lIke to see Wicks get 15-20 MLB starts this season and could imagine a 6-man rotation or something similar for some stretches.

[ ]

In reply to by Charlie

150+ innings is fair enough for those handicapping his potential 2024 workload, i imagine.

numbers aside, my main concern is he may be a bit hitable and give up homers along with it.

he doesn't seem to like to walk guys and he relies on swing/miss on the off-speed stuff while pounding the zone with his fastball with great accuracy.  if MLB hitters can sit on the fastball or regularly get ahead in the count, that might not go well for him.

one of the cool things about his game is for a guy who's very effective with a hitch-pause delivery with no one on, he's also got great command of all his pitches out of the stretch.  it's a minor thing, but runners are running again with those new pizza box bases.

4/53m...27m option for 2028 at the conclusion of 2025 or 2026.  if the cubs decline either, he can immediately opt out.

i really wonder what baseball contracts are going to look like in another decade...probably take 3-4 paragraphs to explain them.

given that the rumor mill was pushing a 5/100m area contract, this one really undercut the rumors.  if imanaga is worth more than the gamble and pays off early enough to pick up the option, it's a 5/80m deal.  it will be interesting to see if the deal is front-loaded (and how much).

ugg....cubs are supposedly targeting yency almonte from the dodgers.

can we f'n quit scrap bin hunting guys like this to add to the 25-man roster?

alzolay needs a partner on his level, not a gamble-upside trade for a guy with a 2m contract and some club control.  pen is already loaded with these guys.  lock down a better-chance sure thing rather than clogging up the roster with these guys.

alzolay avoids arbitration with a 2.11m contract, btw.

Almonte deal reportedly done, no word on anyone going to LA. “Oddly”, he has good stats on even years but bad stats in non-even years.


Edit: whoa, supposedly good prospect and 2019 1st round pick  (31st) Michael Busch in the deal too. I don’t have much on him but he does play 3B. Supposedly a bat first type.

i really hope c.morel is still a cub...

wesn or assad would be an acceptable give for this kind of trade.  that's at least excess talent.

it may take ben brown for busch, though...busch is a heavy minor league piece.

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

i hate taking on almonte more than getting busch.  the pen needs help, not gambles...the pen is full of gambles.

now that the cubs have gone cheap on a SP pickup and it seems like 3rd base is now not a FA target (unless they see busch as a 1st)...where the hell do the cubs plan on spending some money?

MLB Dodger prospect link sbout Busch. 
https://www.mlb.com/prospects/dodgers/

I like this part of the Busch writeup: 

With his sweet left-handed stroke, patient approach with good balance, uncanny hand-eye coordination, bat speed and strength, Busch is equipped to hit for both average and power.”

He was at the time of this link their #2 prospect. Between Morel, Mervis and Busch they can get some young mlb ready play at 1st, 3rd and DH with Shaw soon to join that competition.

 

This might take Matt Chapman off any Cub radar which would be a bullet dodged (after seeing AZ Phil’s take on Chapman).

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

If the Cubs play Michael Busch at 3rd base they might as well play Morel there, because Busch is a bat-first 1B-2B-DH who has dabbled (very unsuccessfully) at 3rd base without any of the tools required to play that position. 

However, Busch is a better hitting prospect than Matt Mervis, with just as much power and a much better hit tool, and I will predict here right now that Busch will play 1B and/or DH for the Cubs, - NOT - 3B. 

Busch was blocked long-term, in LA by Freddie Freeman at 1B and by Mookie Betts at 2B and now by Shohei Ohtani at DH, so the Dodgers wanted to get his bat in the lineup any way they could, which is why they tried him at 3B and in LF, albeit without much success. 

Jackson Ferris was the Cubs # 4 pitching prospect (behind only Horton, Wicks, and Brown). He has Chris Sale (healthy version) type upside but is probably at least two years away from MLB. 

Zyhir Hope was the star of Cubs AZ Instructs. His ceiling is Cedric Mullins (a still raw lefty bat with pop and with plus speed in the OF and on the bases), but the Cubs have a TON of outfield prospects and so I figured Hope would be traded eventually. But in another time and place, he would be a Cubs Top 15 prospect. I will not be surprised if Hope is the Dodgers starting CF in 2027. 

No question the Cubs need a lefty bat with power in the middle of the order, and Michael Busch can certainly be that guy. It's just that he is not an established MLB hitter (yet), but there is no reason to think he won't be the Cubs long-term answer at 1B. So I guess the Cubs might be out on Bellinger, unless it is another short-term deal. 

So I see the trade as Ferris and Hope for Busch (again, to play 1B, not 3B), and then Almonte was just a throw-in, somebody the Dodgers would have non-tendered in November if he had not agreed to sign a take-it-or-get-non-tendered contract (just like Patrick Wisdom did), and he is probably somebody the Dodgers were planning to DFA eventually anyway. (Almonte is out of minor league options, so he has no roster fungibility). 

This was the somewhat rare high end bat prospect for high end arm prospect trade. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Jed gets his new Rizzo.  Here is a snippet from BA on Busch, "The Dodgers drafted Busch as a first baseman and attempted to turn him into a second baseman, but his lack of range makes him a liability without the help of a shift. He’s a below-average runner who lacks quickness and agility and is a below-average defender at the keystone. He began playing third base in 2023 and started most of his games there in Triple-A and the majors. He shows a good feel for body positioning and reading angles at the hot corner but is still a below-average defender learning the nuances of the position. Busch has also seen time in left field, but his best position remains first base . . . The Future: Busch projects to be a middle-of-the-order force who gets on base and hits for power."

Be careful about over-analyzing Jackson Farris.  He has a some-what complicated, long delivery that is mentioned in just about every scouting report. Last year at Low-A,  he had a low strike % compared to what is preferred.  I watched him a couple of times on Marquee and he was impressive, but I could understand the scouting reports on his delivery.  If he doesn't tighten things up, he won't fulfill his promise.  I wonder if the Dodgers were given a choice between Farris or Gray.   

Busch's MiLB career fielding stats at 3B aren't encouraging. He's definitely more comfortable at 1B, then 2B.
But he never played 3B in college at UNC, or in his first three yrs in MiLB.
He's only played 61 games there (all in 2023 at AAA).
Jed just doesn't like Morel at 3B.
So, Busch gets the chance. Or, moves over to 1B and Mervis is effectively gone.
He's a left hand hitting infielder. He's hit a lot better in MiLB than he did in college, actually.

I'm not happy at about losing Ferris and Hope.  I thought Hope was a steal in the 11th Rd., and Phil stoked that excited. But Busch is a top 50 MiLB prospect from the Dodgers who hits lefty!! That's going to cost you.

 

This bat first, weak arm IF who is ok at 2B but gets a crack at 3B is the Madrigal scenario.  Madrigal is a high contact, no power guy so he’s an unlikely 3B model but he did a solid job defensively at 3B. The issue is can they get more power with Busch, Shaw or Morel at 3B? Morel’s arm was strong but erratic but that might improve over time whereas Madrigal’s concern was arm strength not consistency.  Busch and Shaw seem to be in this category but if Madrigal can play 3B, there might be some hope that one can stick at 3B.

If Busch is indeed targeted for first base, it pretty much closes the door on Matt Mervis with the Cubs. I would expect him to be moved.

Baseball America ranked Busch as the Dodgers #1 prospect. 

Here is some of their take…

Busch…won MVP of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last year after batting .323/.431/.618 with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He is a potent offensive threat with elite strike-zone discipline, a controlled approach and a balanced, powerful lefthanded swing. Busch drives balls hard in the air from gap-to-gap, handles both premium velocity and quality breaking stuff and mashes both lefties and righties. He projects to be an above-average hitter who can anchor the middle of a lineup. A first baseman in college, Busch has played both second and third base in the minors but is below-average at both. His best position is first base…

He projects to be the Cubs’ Opening Day first baseman in 2024 and their long-term answer at the position.


The article also covers  the entire trade including Almonte, Ferris and Hope.

https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/cubs-acquire-michael-busch-yenc…

so...looks like 1st is sealed (with an outside shot of 3rd)...pen is pretty much full...

PCA + tauchman covering CF (not strictly, especially if PCA gets hot) seems to be the current swing since eventually moving bellinger to 1st on a long contract makes less sense now.

3rd and SP are the best chances of a team upgrade, but it's not like the in-house options to choose from are black holes lacking talent.

things are crowded and technically covered enough to go into opening day with this crew, but is it the right crew to put together a playoff season?

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

I fail to see, with $40M AAV left, why the Cubs should be 'out' on Bellinger. Busch sounds like more of a DH to me, and PCA remains a 'Prospect' in my world. Hope he pans out, but no guarantee. If he gets 500 PA, how much above a .250/.330/.385 slash line do you honestly think he goes? If he hits more than 12 HRs what does that do to replace Bellinger's LH power?

 

Jed still needs to add Cody to this offense, put Morel at 3B, and HOPE Horton is ready by July 4th. Busch at 1B/DH.

I don't think that the Cubs are a true large market team in the same sense that the Dodgers, Yankees and mets are true large market teams.  They are lacking the large market stadiums with large market parking lots, large market off season venues, and large market teams ability to play as many night games as they want to.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

The Dodgers sell out every year, with a capacity of 56,000 seats.  IF the Cubs sell out, they sell about 42 thousand seats.  How much more money do the Dodgers bring in in a good year?

The Dodgers have 16 thousand parking spaces available at Dodger Stadium, with the lowest rate if $27 dollars per game.  How many parking spaces to the Cubs have available?

Do the math.  And then remember that the Dodgers have substantially more luxury boxes than Wrigley Field.  And 10 times more off season events that Wrigley.   Hundreds of millions more dollars available to the Dodgers each year, before the first ticket is sold.

Not all top tier teams are created equal.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

LA and NYC are their own tier, f'sure.

chicago is the top dog out of the philly, houston, dallas, atlanta, boston, and SF tier, though...even sharing the city with the wsox taken into consideration.

the cubs have had a lot of punt and underfunded seasons during the new ownership.  yes, they've shown they will spend and attempt to compete, but you can't count on it.

rather than wondering what they'll blow the 40-ish million left to spend on, i'm wondering how much of that 40-ish will actually be applied to the team.  today's trade has me wondering why they weren't more in on yamamoto more than if they're still in on bellinger.  that's just where i'm at mentally with the club.

Loved this part of the Athletic article on Imanaga:

"Imanaga’s group now has a collection of tourist photos around Chicago that could best be described as “Where’s Shota?”"

A lot of data to digest. Fangraphs 2024 ZIPS for the Cubs.

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2024-zips-projections-chicago-cubs/

A few quick first takes caught my eye:

Shōta Imanaga is my favorite signing of this offseason and I think it’s probably the computer’s favorite as well (ZiPS utilizes DeltaGraphs stats for NPB players). I suspect some teams are going to kick themselves that the Cubs got Imanaga this cheaply

 

The bullpen projects as very middle-of-the-road in 2024. Steamer’s more positive, with the bigger differences being that ZiPS is giving a little more side-eye to Mark Leiter Jr. and Luke Little. Adbert Alzolay’s projection breaks down as a 3.00 ERA as a reliever

 

ZiPS doesn’t see any offensive prospects roaring to make a big impact this year. The computer likes Kevin Alcántara over the long haul, projecting a 25-WAR career, but it doesn’t see him breaking through and earning much of that in 2024.

 

There’s still a lot of winter to go, but ZiPS sees the Cubs as most likely finishing in the 83-88 win range or thereabouts.

kerry wood and aram make the team HOF!  great choices, both of them.

i'm waiting on zambrano.  some people don't like him, but he was an impact pitcher for the team.

also waiting on bob rush...and bill nicholson...both overlooked legit cubs stars.  bill nicholson played during WW2 and bob rush pitched for some very poor hitting cubs teams.  that don't help their cases, but they were very good players regardless of the situation they played in.

i wouldn't hold your breath for sosa unless the ricketts demand for a forced apology happens...or time heals things.

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

Looked up Big Z's baseball reference to double check my personal bias.  I loved Z. He had some really great seasons, very deserving.  Three times he was 5th in Cy Young, multiple All Star games.  His 2004 season he had a 160 ERA+ and even earned a MVP vote.  Made 30+ starts 5 years in a row.  Wins are a little old school but had 18 win season along with a couple of 16 win season.  And of course the weird no hitter in Milwaukee versus the Astros.  

[ ]

In reply to by Sonicwind75

And you could add to the above that he was a VERY good hitter, and probably could have been a two way player if the National League had had a DH at that time.  Too bad the end of his career with the Cubs turned so sour.  Like Sosa, there were reports that he was not a particularly good clubhouse guy.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

BILL: Back when he was with the Cubs and the Cubs minor league HQ was at Fitch Park, Carlos Zambrano owned a house across the street from Fitch in the gated community on the north side of 8th Street, and he would often let young Venezuelan Cubs minor leaguers who were at Extended Spring Training or who were playing in the AZL stay at his house during the spring and summer. I remember Angel Guzman lived at "Z"s house for a couple of years while he was rehabbing from arm surgery. 

Also. "Z" would organize unofficial ad hoc games at Fitch Park during the off season (usually in January), where Cubs players and MLB players from other organizations who lived in the Phoenix area could get together and play some ball. They used a pitching machine to throw the pitches in the games, and "Z" was always the DH. He LOVED to hit! He had tremendous power from both sides of the plate. He was also ambidextrous, so he could throw left-handed as well as right-handed. 

BTW, the Cubs let "Z" use Fitch Park during the off-season back then (I'm pretty sure they gave him a key to the place, but he was really good friends with the grounds crew so I'm not sure he would have even needed a key to get in), but I was asked not to write about the games (even though I was allowed to watch them) because I don't think the Cubs knew exactly what "Z" was doing in there, especially since it involved players from other organizations.

Carlos Zambrano is one of the friendliest, nicest, and most-generous guys I've ever met in baseball. He might have been a bit hyper and had a bit of a temper on the field, but otherwise he was very funny and real laid-back in person. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Thank you for sharing AZ Phil!  That is a great story.  

 

Not near as insightful or as cool but I remember seeing Z during a rehab stop with Iowa towards end of his career.  I-Cubs were playing my local Round Rock Express. We had pretty good seats close to the Iowa dugout. Recall being struck by how much enthusiasm he had with his teammates.  Believe he pitched an inning or two. He also got a hit and was very stoked about that. Not positive but I think he stayed and cheered instead of going to the clubhouse after he completed his inning or two.  

[ ]

In reply to by Alexander Dimm

I never understood why he fell out of favor so completely at the end of his career.  He publicly lost his temper, destroyed a water cooler or two, and made a few other public displays of anger, but many others have done similar things, and were forgiven because that was considered a result of a competitive desire to win and excel.  Not so with Zambrano.  I always thought that there must be things behind the scenes (bad clubhouse guy, bad personal history, etc. that caused it, but Phil's story seems to make that less likely.  One way or another, he was a very big portion of the success of the Cubs run in the mid 2000s.  A truly good pitcher.  Not quite at the same level as Wood or Prior, or an earlier Maddux, but better than anyone but Steele on the current roster.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

Punching his catcher aND hurting him badly eenough for it to be very visible played a significant role.

Staying on the field helped Zambrano to significantly outproduce both Wood and Prior, of course. Assuming we aren't looking at only peak pproduction, he's the best Cubs starter since Maddux.

[ ]

In reply to by Charlie

It certainly didn't help.  As I remember, Barrett had a prior reputation for being in fights and perhaps even instigating them.  I don't remember anyone specifically blaming Zambrano as the instigator, but one way or the other, the Cubs and the players kept things quiet about the cause of the incident.

Again, I always assumed that may have become a clubhouse problem towards the end, but the story related by ArizonaPhil has made me a little unsure of that assumption.  One way or the other, Zambrano was a good cub for a long time, and I would like to see the team bring him back into the fold.  I feel the same way about Sosa.

Convention on Marquee Network. They don't change the formula much but you have to love the fan enthusiasm in snowy Chicago January.  2023 Highlight video with the Tauchman catch as the centerpiece. Always glad to see the Classic Cubs who participate like Kerry Wood, Aramis plus my generation Cubs,  Fergy and  Billy Williams.

Jed Hoyer was asked about having a small market mentality and his response was, “I think that’s what I want to have, we want to find value.” I agree with not just going bonkers with your money like the Mets and finding value deals. What I don’t agree with is having that kind of mentality when you have the ability to spend more then virtually everyone else outside of a 3 or 4 teams. Of course it’s nice to have some guys on “value” deals but you’re not going to win anything of consequence with a bunch of players on said deals. You need stars to win and being in Chicago, there’s no reason you should be “trying” to win without the presence of some star players. Not necessarily pointing out this off-season, but future off-seasons we should be in on those guys and be able to bring in those types of players. His comments I just found to be concerning for future seasons.

[ ]

In reply to by Edwards23

there is only 1 team in the NL Central that can use money as a weapon.

i'm not expecting the cubs to go all-in every season, but there's been a slew of underperforming seasons where the focus of picking up talent pre-season was "maybe we'll invest mid-season if the signings we gambled on the cheap works out by mid-season."

[ ]

In reply to by Charlie

They kind of are? Current estimated 2024 NLC payrolls per Fangraphs:

 

Cubs: $190M

Cards: $178M

Brewers: $105M

Reds: $100M

Pirates: $69M

 

The Cards are probably done spending significantly this winter, while the Cubs probably add another $30-60M* I expect. 

 

*Well, in AAV. Not sure in actual payroll dollars. Could be more than the AAV, could be less.

I agree with both of you crunch and charlie. The comments made by hoyer just made me concerned for future off-seasons. Like you crunch, I don’t believe we should go out and spend money on big names every off-season but, I don’t think we should hold out for value deals every off-season either. Which seems to be Jed’s philosophy. If he wants to run this organization like that, I don’t believe he needs to be in Chicago…

I’m not saying they don’t spend money bradsbeard.  I’m more concerned with who they’ve spent money on and willing to spend money on in the future. They haven’t shown a willingness to go get that star player. We currently sit at almost 200 million in payroll. Does this seem like a 200 million dollar roster? It consists of some good players, not one star. If you subscribe to Jed’s way of thinking, that you can win with no stars, then I’m sure you think this is fine. I just don’t agree with that sentiment. I’m not pointing out this off-season necessarily because there wasn’t very many star players in this free agent class. I’m talking more in future off-seasons. Again, this is Chicago, you should be able to get star players here. You should want to bring star players here. The more comments I see from Hoyer, the more I believe he isn’t the guy for the job. You shouldn’t have a small market mentality in the 3rd largest market in sports. You get what you pay for and if all you’re worried about is value deals, you’ll miss out on all the big name players. That’s just a fact. You’re advantage is you can spend more then just about anyone. Certainly anyone in your division, but when all you’re comfortable doing is deals you deem value deals, I don’t believe you should be in this kind of market. I will say, I like the Imanaga signing. Probably more than most. But the team needs some star power in my opinion. 

[ ]

In reply to by Edwards23

Jed Hoyer is doing exactly what Tom Ricketts wants him to do. If Hoyer doesn't want to operate the Cubs like a small market team, then Ricketts will hire somebody who will. So Hoyer actually is EXACTLY the right man for the job. 

The issue isn't Hoyer being PBO and then deciding on his own to operate the Cubs like a small market team, it's Ricketts being the owner of a big market team and deciding he wants the Cubs to operate like a small market team (or more precisely a big market team that chooses not to operate like a big market team). 

There is a reason why the other four teams in the N. L. Central get a competitive balance draft pick after the first or second round every year and the Cubs don't. It's because the presumption is that because they are a big market team, the Cubs will be able to sign free agents the Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, and Pirates can't afford.  

So if the Cubs choose not to take advantage of being a large market team and spend accordingly, then that's on them. 

Bottom line is that the Cubs are Ricketts' team, and he can do whatever he wants with it,, and fans have the right to support or not support the team as it is presently being operated. 

AZ Phil, I don’t agree with that at all. The issue isn’t spending money. They have and will spend just not on who most of us would like them too. As long as Hoyers there anyway. Wouldn’t you say that’s it’s more of indictment on the front office that this is the roster they’ve put together so far for nearly 200 million? I don’t know maybe I’m wrong but I think a 200 million dollar roster should look a hell of a lot better on paper then this one and that falls at the feet of Jed Hoyer. He’s came out and said he doesn’t like long term deals. He doesnt think you need stars to win. He wants to have a small market mentality. This is all things that are coming out of Jed’s mouth, nobody else’s. I don’t love Ricketts but I’m not blaming him for Jed’s small market mentality. 

[ ]

In reply to by Edwards23

 Not to speak for Phil, but my feeling is that this was the vision laid out by Ricketts before the power transition from Theo to Jed happened. Ricketts was coming off those infamous “biblical losses” and very likely wanted to recoup that over the next however many years. He almost certainly made it clear to Jed that exactly what we’re seeing is the path Ricketts wants. Jed agreed and is following his mandate.

TL: DR- they’re both to blame.

DJL- they are spending though. It’s not like they’ve shed all payroll and went below 100 million for multiple years like 2012-2014. Last year they finished not far from the first luxury tax and they’ll likely be up against that to start the season. My problem has nothing to do with them not spending money because they do for the most part spend. It’s who they are spending it on is where I have the problem. 200 million should get you a pretty damn good roster. One that in the NL central, should be clear favorites. But they aren’t. I blame Jed for that.

[ ]

In reply to by Edwards23

I agree that Jed has misallocated resources. But I also think for the last few years and seemingly this year, the tax threshold has been a hard salary cap for the team. And that’s ridiculous for a team with this spending power. That’s on Ricketts.

just a thought/and I am hoping for some commentary...

I wonder what Counsell's input might be on acquiring Josh Hader after his Brewer experience. I know they unloaded him (controversially because it was just before the Brewers were competing in a division race) to SD (for 4 players, none of which at this point directly impacted the Brewers although two of the players in secondary deals brought in William Contreras-Joel Payamps). They successfully moved their 8th-inning guy to closer, Devin Williams. Was there some clubhouse issue? I recall Hader had some struggles that year and struggled initially in SD.

note: the Brewers, had a three-game lead in the NL Central when they sent Hader to the Padres on Aug. 1, 2022, but went 29-31 the rest of the season and missed the playoffs first time since 2017.

here is a Ken Rosenthal article discussing that trade a year after it happened.

https://theathletic.com/4708717/2023/07/21/milwaukee-brewers-trade-dead…

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

hader and counsell + bob melvin (SD) butted heads on workload issues over recent years.  this is coming from a guy who's workload is 50-60 innings a year.

hader is not a fan of the 4-out save or anything similar.  he wants to work his inning and call it a day.

the issues from the racist/homophobic/etc social media stuff he was doing in highschool that popped up in 2018 seems to have smoothed over to the point it's not an issue, fwiw...so i wouldn't count that as a potential issue with signing him.

I think a lot of the Hoyer era thinking had been clouded by the ghost of Jason Heyward. For years,  the Cubs carried a $23MM contract of a player who  the kindest of terms, wasn’t pulling his monetary weight. Hoyer is doing everything humanly possible to make sure that kind of mistake never happens again. Bellinger is the ultimate staring contest between Boras and Hoyer. 

[ ]

In reply to by azbobbop

that's the fault of giving slugger money to a guy that averages 10-15 homers and 25-30 doubles a year who's WAR is inflated by the 2-3 chances a game in RF he makes a play.  it's not like the guy was a .400-ish ob% guy to even that bat risk out.

being awesome in RF is nice, but you're paying a premium for a guy to get 2-3 chances a game on average to show off that awesome.  it's easier to be one of the best with the glove there when a chunk of teams don't value that 2-3 chances a game as much as other teams.

matt shaw says his off-season defensive reps have been almost totally at 3rd base.  whether he can stick there or not, it looks like he's going into 2024 with a focus on 3rd.

[ ]

In reply to by Finwe Noldaran

Almost impossible to answer that, since we have little to go on regards to Shaw's defensive abilities at second base.   But Hoerner's defense is about as good as any second baseman I have ever seen.  In my opinion, better than Sandberg, who almost never made a throwing error or even a fielding error, but seldom dove for a ball.  I have never heard comments to indicate that Shaw would be much better than average at second base.  I would say Hoerner a 9 and Shaw a 5.

[ ]

In reply to by Finwe Noldaran

i know so much more about hoerner and so little about shaw i can't fairly handicap the two.

it's harder to compare the guys when one of them (hoerner) went from SS to 2nd and got a gold glove in his 1st full season there.

hoerner's value in being able to shift over to SS if needed and cover it extremely well is worth considering, too.  he didn't leave SS because he wasn't great at it, he left it because swanson was an established gold glover at SS.

according to gordon wittenmeyer the cubs were in on brent suter up to the end and was one of the finalists with CIN (who eventually snagged him).

gordo now works the CIN beat, btw...still has CHC contacts i'd imagine

also, it seems like the cubs are still in the market for a pen arm.

given it's the cubs, i imagine a.chafin or w.smith are more likely targets than j.hader.

Just looking through the current 40 man roster and trying to guess what opening day will look like if no one else is added.

Starting staff - Steele, Imanaga, Taillon, Hendricks, Wicks, Smiley swing man

Relief - 9th inning Alzolay, 8th Merryweather, 7th Cuas,  Long Wesneski, Assad, Almonte, Little 

Catcher - Gomes Amaya

Infield - 3B Morel, SS Swanson, 2B Hoerner, 1B Busch, DH Canario, Vasquez, Madrigal

Outfield - LF Happ, CF PCA, Rf Suzuki, Tauchman

Most likely to be brought in by free agency or trade.

Hitter to replace Canario.  Could be a third baseman that would move Morel to DH or first baseman to move Busch to DH, or a new DH.

Starting pitcher to move Wicks to swing man and Smiley to long relief.

Two relievers to be on the Iowa shuttle or to move Sesneski and/or Little to the shuttle. 

Obviously, outstanding or devestating spring training performances or injuries will affect the above.

Comments?

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT advocating any of this, and I also acknowledge that additional MLB and minor league free agents will likely be signed, trades could be made, players will be released, and there will be injuries (TBD) during Spring Training, all of which will impact this, but AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW...  

NOTE: Jackson Ferris would have been the #1 SP at South Bend and Zyhir Hope would have been the CF and lead-off hitter at Myrtle Beach if they had not been traded.  

* bats or throws left 
# bats both

CHICAGO CUBS (MLB)

26-man roster

LINEUP VS. RHP:
* Tauchman, CF (out of options) 
Hoerner, 2B (can move to SS if Swanson not in lineup)
Suzuki, RF (Article XX-B / has full "no trade") 
# Happ, LF (Article XX-B / has full "no trade") 
Swanson, SS (Article XX-B / has full "no trade") 
C. Morel, DH (4th option available in 2024)
* Busch, 1B 
Gomes, C (Article XX-B) 
Madrigal, 3B 

LINEUP VS LHP:
Hoerner, 2B 
Suzuki, RF 
# Happ, LF 
Swanson, SS 
C. Morel, DH  
Wisdom, 1B 
Gomes, C 
* Tauchman, CF 
Madrigal, 3B 

BENCH: 
Amaya, C (out of options) 
Wisdom, 1B-3B-LF-RF (or Busch when LHP starts)
* Mastrobuoni, INF (2B-3B-SS)
Canario, OF (4th option available in 2024)

STARTNG PITCHERS: 
* Steele (out of options) 
Hendricks (Article XX-B / will get full 10/5 "no trade" beginning on 6/26) 
Taillon (Article XX-B / has partial "no trade") 
* Imanaga (SP on Sundays only? - has partial "no trade") 

BULK / MULTI-INNING / PIGGY-BACK 
* Smyly (Article XX-B) 
Wesneski 
Assad 
* Wicks 

ONE-INNING 
Alzolay (out of options) 
Leiter (out of options) 
Merryweather (out of options) 
Almonte (out of options)  
Cuas 


IOWA (AAA) 

28-man roster

STARTING LINEUP:
* PCA, CF
L. Vazquez, SS 
* Caissie, LF-RF 
* Mervis, 1B 
Alfaro, C 
B. Davis, RF-LF 
# Murray, 3B 
Slaughter, DH (also INF)
Strumpf, 2B 
 
BENCH: 
Bote, INF 
* Hill, OF (LF-CF)
* Roederer, OF (CF-LF-RF)
Serven, C 
* Windham, C-IB-2B-3B 

DEVELOPMENT "STASH" LIST (POSITION PLAYERS): 
Hudson, C 
McKeon, INF 
Maldonado, OF-1B

STARTING PITCHERS: 
B. Brown 
Kilian 
R. Thompson 
Clarke 
* Pannone 

BULLPEN: 
Roberts 
Palencia 
* Little 
K. Thompson 
Rucker 
* Horn 
C. Sanders 
Brewer  
* Wieck or * Escobar  

DEVELOPMENT "STASH" LIST (PITCHERS): 
* Wieck or * Escobar  
M. Espinoza 
Gallardo

REHAB (EXST): 
Leeper 
* Patterson 
Reindl 


TENNESSEE (AA)

28-man roster

LINEUP:
Triantos, 2B (also 3B)
Shaw, 3B (also 2B-SS)
K. Alcantara, CF (also LF-RF)
* Ballesteros, DH-C 
McGeary, 1B 
Aliendo, C-DH 
C. Franklin, LF (also CF))
* Pagan, RF (also CF-LF) 
Howard, SS

BENCH: 
# Cantrelle, INF 
* Pinango, OF (LF) 
Pertuz, INF  
# Opitz, C 
Beesley, OF (CF-LF-RF)

DEVELOPMENT "STASH" LIST (POSITION PLAYERS): 
Knight, C 
Spence, INF 
Nwogu, OF  

STARTING PITCHERS: 
Horton 
K. Franklin 
Birdsell 
Powell 
Devers
Kachmar  

BULLPEN: 
Hodge 
E. Nunez
Leigh   
* Martin 
Bigge 
Whitney 
Ueckert 
Scalzo 

DEVELOPMENT "STASH" LIST (PITCHERS): 
Bain 

REHAB (EXST): 
* Carraway 
* Stambaugh 


SOUTH BEND (Hi-A) 

30-man roster

LINEUP: 
* Bateman CF 
Rojas, SS 
# P. Ramirez, 2B (also 3B)
Kalmer, DH (also 3B-1B)
Rivera, 3B (also 2B-SS)
Stevens, RF (also 1B)
Long, 1B 
Garriola, LF 
* Hearn, C 

BENCH: 
Pabon, C-INF 
R. Morel, INF-OF   
* Chavers, OF 
# R. Garcia, INF 
* Wetzel, OF 
Verdugo, INF  

DEVELOPMENT "STASH" LIST (POSITION PLAYERS): 
* Granadillo, C 
Preciado, INF (formerly switch-hitter) 
J. Mora, INF
* Mena, OF  

STARTING PITCHERS: 
Arias 
* Gray 
W. Sanders
McCullough 
Noland 
* Santy 

BULLPEN: 
J. Romero 
Oquendo 
T. Johnson
* A. Hernandez 
T. Santana 
Hull 
Nahas
Y. Cabrera 
Kipp 

DEVELOPMENT "STASH" LIST (PITCHERS): 
A. Gonzalez 
* Watkins 
Schlaffer
K. Perez

REHAB (EXST): 
Wiggins
S. Gonzalez
Thoresen  


MYRTLE BEACH (Lo-A) 

30-man roster 

LINEUP:
* Collier, LF 
A. .Hernandez, 2B 
C. Hernandez, SS 
* Carico, DH (also C) 
Bowser, 1B 
A. Sanchez, C 
* Encarnacion, RF 
Paciolla, 3B 
L. Espinoza, CF  

BENCH: 
Trice, C-INF-OF 
* Suriel, 1B-OF 
* More, OF 
* Escobar, INF-OF 
Olivo, INF-OF 

DEVELOPMENT LIST (POSITION PLAYERS) / EXST thru June:  
F. Hernandez, C-1B-OF
Avitia, C 
Mule, INF 
Lubo, INF 
* Melendez, INF 
A. Rosario, OF 
* W. Soto, C-1B 
# J. Diaz, C 

STARTING PITCHERS: 
K. Valdez 
E. Rodriguez 
Rujano 
* Noriega 
A. Romero 

BULLPEN: 
Ginn 
Armstrong 
Frisch 
G. Brown 
Dean 
Moore 
Egbert 
Pichardo 
Paredes 
Lebron 
L. A. Reyes

DEVELOPMENT LIST (PITCHERS) / EXST thru June
McGwire
* Machado 
Marshall (ex-C) 
* C. Garcia
Agrazal 
Hambley 
Peters 
Martinez-Gomez
Y. Rojas 
Silverio
Bello 
W. Mora 
* D. Brown  
* Cunningham (attending college til June)

REHAB (EXST): 
* Flanagan  
Sierra 
Wheat 

In the past they have built their bullpen through low cost free agents signed in number and winnowed out the unsuccessful ones.  I suspect that they will continue using that method until they feel that their farm system can produce the same results.  Relief pitchers are so inconsistant from year to year on a seemingly random basis that it is probably as good a way to go as any.

By the way, the above is probably not useful in finding top closers, and at some point they are likely to sign or trade for one when the time seems right, as they did when they got Chapman and Kimbral.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

Their bullpen strategy has been fine overall. I think it’s better to try that and then address the volatility during the season then the previous strategy of a bunch of middle relievers getting multi year deals. It worked fine but it ate up money that could have been spent elsewhere. If you’re in the playoff hunt, acquire a few solid RPs at the deadline, you at least have a decent idea of what you’re getting despite positional volatility.

One of the best things about Assad is that he was a really good piggyback start guy which may be valuable if they want to use Imanaga on a once-a-week schedule (at least initially). Keegan Thompson had that role in 2022 but lost his mojo in 2023. Hopefully, Thompson can rebound this year. I heard a lot about young players' progress not being linear, we can hope that is the case with KT.

 

That mural is really awesome!

How much arm strength can a non-pitcher add with current/modern training techniques? I'm looking at you, Matt Shaw. Training technique might not be able to take a "2B-arm" and upgrade him to a "SS-arm"  but can it work at 3B as the throws are not coming from as many varying angles/distances and at 3B the key upgrade needs to be a more distanced but repetitive throw from 3B?

 

 I suppose it's more of a question for an athletic trainer who works with pro ballplayers and I certainly don't know the answer.

Also, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck...?

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

We talk a lot about Madrigal making the transition to 3B, but Nico also had a below-average arm coming up through the system, and it was a major question heading into 2022 if he could make the throws from SS. He worked hard on arm strength that winter though and had plenty of arm for the position. I don't think it is too much to ask of Shaw to be able to get the arm to be playable at 3B.

[ ]

In reply to by bradsbeard

BRADSBEARD: While I agree that a player with below-average arm strength can sometimes improve it to a certain extent, if it does happen it will usually happen fairly early in his pro career (as was the case with Nico Hoerner). 

Nick Madrigal is a real outlier, in that he was mostly a second-baseman in college (he played 75% of his games at 2B at Oregon State), so he played very little at SS in college (and made too many errors when he did play SS) and only one game at SS in pro ball, and no games at 3B in college or in pro ball. So he very infrequently needed to make long throws from deep in the 5.5 hole at SS (and when he did he showed well below-average arm strength) and never from behind 3rd base. Most throws from 2B are sort of a side-arm sling/flip or maybe occasionally a 90 foot flat-foot or leaping throw when turning the DP.   

But then after he was moved to 3rd base in 2023, Madrigal (against all odds) was somehow able to alter his throwing mechanics by throwing more over-hand and with more body-momentum (take an extra second or two to get set-up, get some body momentum going, get behind the throw, and then power the throw with max effort over-hand), something he never did at 2B. 

Madrigal always had a good glove and good range and enough arm to play 2B (he was named PAC 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017), so he was clearly an outstanding defender at 2nd base, but the ball comes on a player faster at 3B than it does at SS or 2B (it's kind of like being a hockey goalie), so that was another unknown for Madrigal (but it turned out he does have the speedy reactions and one-step quickness needed to play the hot corner).  

Remember, too, that prior to signing Dansby Swanson, the Cubs were (apparently) perfectly content going into the 2023 season with Nico Hoerner at SS and Nick Madrigal (if healthy) at 2B. So as long as he was recovered from the groin injury that ended his 2022 season early, Madrigal was seen by the Cubs as an every day player, maybe not at 3rd base, but certainly at 2nd base. And then it turned out he could actually play 3B! 

So it's not that Madrigal can't play 3B. Rather, it is the lack of SLG at a position (3B) where it is preferred if not required, and (even worse) his annual hamstring and/or groin injury that keeps him from being the elite baserunner he was in college and in the minors (122 SB in 374 games combined between college ball, summer league ball, and the minors 2015-19) and from playing a full season in MLB (he played in just half of the season in 2020, 1/3 of the season in 2021 and 2022, and 2/3 of the season in 2023).    

All that said, Matt Shaw might or might not be able to play 3B well enough to do it in the big leagues (TBD), but even if it turns out he is below-average defensively at 3B, it really would not surprise me if he becomes an MLB second-baseman, and if he is indeed the "real deal" as a hitter (as he is projected to be) and if he is at least adequate defensively at 2B (as a former college SS, he should be able to play 2B just fine even with a below-average arm), the Cubs could look to trade Nico Hoerner sometime before he becomes a FA post-2026. 

Jim Bowden predicts Bellinger will wind up with Cubs. (The Athletic, https://theathletic.com/5203155/2024/01/15/mlb-free-agents-best-availab…)

3. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF

Best match: Cubs

A return to the Cubs is the best option for Bellinger, who has generated interest in free agency from the Blue Jays, Giants and Angels, among others. His ability to play first base, right field, center field and left field has helped his market. His asking price is high, but that reflects his ability to impact a game in so many ways. When the staredown between Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and agent Scott Boras ends, I believe Bellinger will get his best offer from Chicago, where he had his NL Comeback Player of the Year season last year.

Makes sense.  The market for Bellinger's high dollar - long term contract is dropping daily.  If it continues, he will end up with a 1 or at most 2 year "prove it" contract.  And this could easily cause the Cubs to become the high bidder in this market.  The Cubs have a lot of outfielders coming up in the next two years, some of which could become the greatly needed low-cost stars that have to be the foundation for almost any non-Dodger/Yankee/Mets team.  A long term Bellinger contract could cause substantial problems in the future, while a short term Bellinger contract would exactly fit their needs.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

I don't know if it's possible to disagree more with this take.

This implies PCA, Caissie, and Alcantara will be on the 26-man and in the lineup by summer, 2025. Kind of a bold statement. 

I fail how to see how a LH bat with his power, who is a Gold Glove at CF/1B/RF couldn't find a spot in the Cubs lineup for the next 4-5 years. SMDH.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

I don't think it's a bold statement to imply that at least 1 of 3 top 100 OF prospects who all finished at AA or higher last season will be in the lineup by the summer of 2025. But I think Bellinger is versatile enough that it will all work itself out even if one of those guys breaks through by then.

I'd love it if they could do something like 2 years $75m ($37.5m AAV) with a player opt-out, so if Belli has another great season he can still go after the multi-year deal at a young age next offseason, but if he regresses due to those very poor hard hit percentages, worst case scenario is 1 additional year.  That would put his annual salary on par with Mike Trout and just behind Aaron Judge.  

Imanaga gets a $1M signing bonus to be paid 1/15/2024, and then $9M in 2024, $13M in 2025, and a $57M club option for 2026-28 ($20M in 2026, $20M in 2027, and $17M in 2028) or else a $15M player option for 2026 (2026-28 club option must be either exercised or declined after the conclusion of 2025 World Series and then player option must be either exercised or declined but only if 2026-28 club option is declined), then if player option is exercised for 2026 there is a $42M club option for 2027-28 ($24M in 2027 and $18M in 2028) or else a $15M player option for 2027 (2027-28 club option must be either exercised or declined after the conclusion of 2026 World Series and then player option must be either exercised or declined but only if 2027-28 club option is declined), plus a $1M salary escalator if first, $500K if second or third, and $250K if 3-10 in Cy Young, and a $250K bonus for winning N. L. RoY, and Cubs pay $9.825M posting/release fee to Yokohama BayStars ($4,912,500 due on 2/1/2024, $1,670,250 due on 8/1/2024, $1,670,250 due on 2/1/2025, and $1,572,000 due on 8/1/2025) plus 15% of any salary and/or bonus paid to Imanaga that brings the total value of the contract to more than $53M. 

The Imanaga AAV hit for 2024 and 2025 is $13.25M but the AAV would increase to $18M beginning in 2026 if the 2026-28 club option is exercised after the conclusion of the 2025 World Series and it would increase to $18M in 2027 if the 2027-28 club option is exercised after the conclusion of the 2026 World Series. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

It would appear that the Cubs 2024 payroll right now is about $196M (including player benefit costs, money contributed to the pre-arb bonus pool, $1M for players on optional assignment to the minors, and $5M that needs to be set aside for players replacing players on the IL. during the course of the season), meaning they are about $40M under the CBT threshold. 

So - IF - Ricketts set a self-imposed hard-cap max payroll limit at the 2024 $237M CBT threshold (as apparently was the case last year), Hoyer has about $40M to spend in 2024 MLB player additions. However, the $40M does NOT include payroll they might want to set aside for Trade Deadline acquisitions (presuming the Cubs are buyers and not sellers at the deadline). 

So to preserve as much 2024 AAV as possible so that the Cubs can add as many MLB players as possible, Hoyer would probably actually want to go with longer free agent contracts with lower AAV rather than shorter high AAV contracts, and/or trade Top 10 prospects for guys with relatively low 2024 salary AAV (like Cease, Bieber and Clase, or Luzardo and a LHRP like Tanner Scott), and/or trade Hendricks ($16M AAV) and/or Smyly ($10M AAV) in order to increase 2024 payroll AAV for somebody else (like Hendricks or Smyly and a bullpen pitching prospect to Boston for Kenley Jansen, or even Hendricks and Smyly and one pitching prospect and one position player prospect for Jansen and a LH hitting high-contact DH like Masataka Yoshida).    

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

40m...

that could buy a couple more Jumbotron style advertising scoreboards...buy a few more properties around the wrigley field...lobby the city to shut down street traffic before/during games and set up bollards around the area to increase around-and-in-park revenue under the guise of safety...

that should leave a couple million left over to make an offer to josh donaldson.

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Upon further review I did NOT include the $5M needed to pay players temporarily on the MLB 26-man roster who are covering for players on the IL in the $196M, so the Cubs have only an estimated $35M to spend before reaching the CBT threshold, not $40M (and that maximum $35M in available payroll also presumes no payroll is being set aside for Trade Deadline acquisitions). 

BTW, when a player is acquired at the Trade Deadline, there is about 1/3 of the season left, so unless there is a salary offset involved, a player making $15M is owed about $5M at the TDL. So there is no way to really know how much might be needed for Trade Deadline acquisitions, or even if the club will be a buyer or a seller (this time last year the presumption was that the Cubs would be sellers and not buyers at the Trade Deadline). 

Also, for every FA signed, one player changes from a projected member of the MLB 26-man roster to an optioned player, so because the difference between the average MLB split salary and the average minor league split salary is about $600K, that difference in salary would be added to available payroll (if the Cubs sign a FA).

Again, this is all presuming that the Cubs self-imposed 2024 max payroll limit is set at the 2024 CBT threshold, which it might not be. The self-imposed payroll cap could be over the CBT threshold, or it could even be under, or it could be a "soft" cap (meaning it is set at a certain amount, but it could be increased in a very special circumstance and with permission from Ricketts, like maybe if the Cubs are in contention at the Trade Deadline, the payroll limit could be increased to allow the Cubs to acquire a certain player at the TDL, but otherwise not). 

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

GEORGE A: I really believe a free-agent contract AAV as it impacts the 2024 season's team payroll (and AAV) is really going to matter a lot to Jed Hoyer, so for Bellinger I would say something like an extremely front-loaded 8/$176M ($22M AAV) like maybe $29M-$27M-$25M-$23M-$21M-$19M-$17M-$15M 2024-31 but with Imanaga-like contract escalators based on MVP finishes that could push the AAV up higher in future seasons (but not in 2024) plus multiple player opt outs beginning after the 2026 season (when 5/$95M would be left on the contract and Bellinger is 31), is probably what it would take to get it done. To further lower the AAV, some of the money could be deferred (if Team Bellinger is OK with that). 

FWIW, the overall value of this contract ($176M) would be $1M less than the overall value of Dansby Swanson's contract (not that Swanson would necessarily care, but it does show some deference to Swanson's place on the team), and it would also be $8M less than the overall value of the Jason Heyward contact (which might make it more palatable to Ricketts, who I suspect still has nightmares about that one). 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

And to reiterate, if the Cubs are willing to package Christopher Morel plus two or three pitching prospects (but NOT Cade Horton) to trade for a SP like Cease, Bieber, or Luzardo, they can then trade Hendricks and/or Smyly to get more 2024 payroll AAV back that can be used to sign a second FA besides Bellinger (perhaps Josh Hader?), or to add somebody like Kenley Jansen via trade. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Just my opinion on a potential Bellinger contract - sorry it's so long:

I think that the Cubs would be bidding against themselves if they gave Bellinger a contract with this overall value (8 years at $176). And I get the purpose of scaling the contract down in value each year which would encourage Bellinger to opt out soon if he is performing, but I would also consider a few other factors. If Belli regresses, the Cubs need to have a chance to escape the contract or mitigate their risk. This can be done by (a) signing Belli to a short-term contract, (b) including a team option somewhere within the contract, or (c) making the contract extremely incentive-laden. If Belli regresses, the Cubs do NOT want to pay $176 million over the next 8 years. 

In addition to all of that, the value of the dollar is decreasing pretty quickly these days. Based on current trends, a $20 million salary today would only be worth about $17 million in 5 years. If that's the case, Bellinger should not be willing to accept a contract like that unless he believes he can't sustain the level he showed this past year and simply wants the most overall money possible.

If Bellinger believes he is the guy we saw last year, he should have no trouble accepting an incentive-laden contract, a short-term contract or one with club options early in the term. Teams are clearly worried about regression and need one more year of success to help them dish out the money he is hoping for, so I believe he should sign a one-year contract with the Cubs for highest dollar value and be able to test free agency again next year without the burden of draft pick compensation. 

If he is successful again in 2024, he should have little trouble finding the $175-200 million dollar contract he wants to finish his career under. If he is not successful, he can play it year by year and hope for another fluke year like 2023.

Of course, Boras also knows that if Belli is unsuccessful moving forward, he won't get paid nearly as much as he potentially can make this year if the right team overreacts and offers more years and more overall money than anyone else is offering. Therefore, he is waiting it out. He most likely feels that he has at least two teams who are currently offering a high value, one-year deal and Boras won't likely sign that until he feels he is down to one team. Therefore, this could go into spring training if teams remain interested.

I would offer Bellinger the following four contract options:

(1) $25 million for 2024 (gets one more year to prove his value & no draft pick compensation. Buys PCA and others another year to get ready in the minors.)

(2) Guaranteed $40 million for two years ($20 per) with $5 million incentives for games played both years (or escalators) (Hedging his bets between 2023 being a fluke and being able to still cash in while only 30 years old - Cubs have him for his most prime years remaining at a great market value.)

(3) $15 million for 2024 increasing $1 million each year for 8 years with player opt outs and club options scattered throughout the term ($148 million overall value but Cubs are only on the hook for $66 million if the Cubs first chance to opt out is after the 2027 season & Belli can become a free agent after 2026, for example).

(4) $10 million per year for for nine years with up to $10 million in incentives (for plate appearances not games played, so he can be a pinch hitter if he sucks without triggering games played bonuses). No player opt outs - no club options. (Cubs are on the hook for $90 million at minimum but Belli can make up to $180 million with relatively easy to earn incentives). Biggest risk for the Cubs financially & for the salary cap ($20 million hit each year), but it's spread out over nine years.

Thoughts?

[ ]

In reply to by Wrigley Rat

I've looked at ALL the metrics you and other Bellinger detractors have posted on here since FA began for him. AZ Phil has the only take I believe sees the real picture - he worked on his stroke and hit LH better than he ever has, struck out less than he ever has, and didn't try to kill the ball after strike one. He was a 4.1 WAR player who missed 35 games. If he continues to be a 3 to 3.5 WAR player, Bellinger is a $26-30M/Yr value.  

Go ahead. Watch him sign elsewhere. Then, when he puts up this kind of stat line for the next 4-5 years, let's see where PCA, Owen Caissie, K. Alcantara production compares. And how much a gold glove at 1B, CF, RF could add to whatever lineup the Cubs put on the field in 2025-2028.

Also, let's not bring up (others) the Heyward contract. Theo blew that one by not factoring his 5.0 WAR with STL/ATL was 50% due to his fielding in RF. At Bellinger's worst offense production, Heyward isn't even in the same conversation with Bellinger as a hitter.

And can we stop worrying about a $4.0 billion franchise's salary risk?

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

And I think it makes sense to worry about that salary CBT threshold as long as exceeding it causes a ballclub to forfeit Draft choices and cuts down the ability to spend for foreign players who are not subject to the amateur draft.  Those penalties affect your ability to acquire new talent, regardless of your willingness to overpay on the penalties for exceeding the CBT.

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

If the Cubs exceed the 2024 CBT threshold by no more than $20M, they would pay a 20% tax on any 2024 payroll over the CBT threshold (the tax rate is higher if a club exceeds the CBT threshold by more than $20M and/or exceeds the threshold in multiple consecutive seasons). 
NOTE: A club that exceeds the CBT threshold in a given season by more than $40M would have its highest pick in the next Rule 4 Draft dropped by ten slots (or its next highest pick would be dropped by ten slots if the club's highest pick is among the top 10 overall picks in the draft). 

Additional penalties for a team like the Cubs (not a revenue sharing receiver) that exceeds the 2024 CBT tax by no more than $20M are:  

1. If the Cubs sign a post-2024 Article XX-B MLB free agent who received a Qualifying Offer from his previous club, the Cubs would lose both their 2nd AND 5th highest draft picks (not just their 2nd highest draft pick) in the 2025 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft) AND would have $1,000,000 subtracted from their 2025 International Signing Bonus Pool instead of $500K (so an additional $500K would be subtracted from their 2025 ISBP). 
NOTE: A club can acquire additional ISBP space up to 60% of its assigned ISBP via trade (must be acquired for player or players, not for cash).   

2. If the Cubs lose a player who received a Qualifying Offer post-2024, they would receive a 2025 Rule 4 compensation draft pick after the 4th round instead of after the 2nd round. 
NOTE: As of right now, the only Cubs players eligible to be an Article XX-B MLB free-agent post-2024 (and eligible to receive a QO) are Kyle Hendricks, Yan Gomes, and Drew Smyly (mutual option), and none of the three are likely to be extended a QO by Cubs post-2024. 

So there are a couple of penalties besides the 20% tax on payroll up to $20M over the CBT threshold, but they are fairly minimal (ISBP space lost can be reacquired via trade, losing two draft picks instead of just one only matters if the club actually signs a Qualified Player, and dropping the comp draft pick two rounds further down for losing a Qualified Player only matters if the club actually loses any Qualified Players). 

So beyond a self-imposed salary cap set at the CBT threshold, there really is no reason for the Cubs not to spend up to $20M in payroll over the 2024 $237M CBT threshold (the tax would be $4M if the Cubs 2024 payroll is $20M over the CBT threshold). 

[ ]

In reply to by Wrigley Rat

I started thinking about a potential Matt Chapman contract and it just doesn't seem like he would be the best fit for this team for a couple reasons. (1) He's a pretty average right-handed hitter who costs a bunch and is exiting his prime. (2) He has draft pick compensation attached to him. (3) The hope is that Matt Shaw could potentially fill that spot within a year or two (or sooner).

I think he will re-sign with Toronto, but I think the Cubs could offer him two contract options that would allow the Cubs to maintain flexibility with the position and keep the salary cap number down.

Option 1: 5 year contract with salaries of $10 million, 15, 20, 15, 10 with a player opt out after year 2 and a club option after year 3 and a No-Trade Clause if he wants it. The lower 2024 salary takes into account losing a high draft pick for signing him and keeps the AAV at $15 million.

Option 2: 7 year contract with salaries of $21 million, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3 with no opt outs, club options or NTC. The total value to Chapman is $84 million but the AAV is only $12 per year. After year 3 or 4 the Cubs should consider trading him (he will be in his mid-30's & hopefully Shaw or another prospect will be ready) and his actual salary will be very low for a club taking on his contract. He offers the Cubs "insurance" against minor leaguers not panning out, but his contract is flexible enough to be shipped off without too much trouble.

I don't see how anyone else would want to offer more for such average production (even with the great glove). Thoughts?

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

BILL: It will indeed be very interesting to see what Cody Bellinger ultimately gets. 

Remember, Bellinger declined his half of the $25M mutual option for 2024 after the Cubs exercised it, so the Cubs apparently did not have a problem fitting a Bellinger $25M AAV into their 2024 payroll, at least they didn't just after the conclusion of the World Series. 

But as I have said, I strongly suspect Hoyer would want the AAV to be as low as possible so that he can sign other free agents and/or add payroll via trade(s), so some kind of a short-term / high AAV contract just doesn't seem too likely (to me).   

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Phil, I agree that Hoyer would desire as low an AAV as reasonable for this year.  But I think that even more important to him is that it does not extend too far into the future for several reasons.

1 There are reasonable concerns out there that Bellinger is more likely to regress from last year, rather than perform as well or better.

2 The very good farm system he has built up is top heavy in outfielders, and the need for Bellinger in center is likely to recede as soon as next year.

3 First basemen are easy to come by, compared to most positions. And though defense is important at all positions, it is probably less important at first than any of the others.   A Freeman is probably worth a high dollar, long term contract, but Bellinger is not likely to be a Freeman.

Phil, 

I like your thinking and $$ breakdown on a Bellinger deal. In terms of years, total $$, and opt outs, i believe both sides would get a win.

I also lIke that package for a SP if it doesn't include Horton, Gray, or Brown.

Not sure on what Jansen has left in tank, but if BOS would take Hendricks' contract in an even swap, I would gamble on $1.5M for him as the 2024 Closer.   

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

The thing about the Red Sox is that they had two RHP (Houck and Whitlock) in their starting rotation in 2024 who would probably best be used of the pen. Trading Jansen for a SP would allow the Sox to move Houck or Whitlock back to the pen. 

Also, Jansen and Hendricks are making the same money ($16M) in 2024 and both will be free agents post-2024, so there would be no added future financial obligations or additions to the 2024 payroll for either the Cubs or the Red Sox if Jansen was "exchanged" for Hendricks. It would be a financial "wash."   

I was both a Cubs fan and a White Sox fan while growing up in suburban Chicago (my mom's side of the family were Cubs fans and my dad's side of the family were Sox fans), but for some reason that I have never quite understood, around 1963 I became a huge Kansas City A's fan (but not so much after they moved to Oakland). 

I thought Charlie Finley was really cool because he was constantly fighting with the other team owners in the American League and sticking his thumb in their eyes, and so my dad would take me to Sox - A's games at Comiskey whenever we could go. I have scorecards from A's - Sox games at Comiskey Park from the 1960's, photographs from games, and A's yearbooks and glossy team photos that I sent for.  

Anyway, I was going over some of my old A's stuff the other day, and I was reminded that the way the Oakland A's became a three-time World Series champion 1972-74 was helped in large part by drafting guys in the 1960's while they were still in KC, especially the three amigos from Arizona State, Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, and Rick Monday (plus Joe Rudi). 

And when they first came up to Kansas City, this is what they did: 

Rick Monday: 098/213/171 with 16 K in 48 PA in 1966 
Sal Bando: 208/275/273 in 178 PA in 1966-67  
Reggie Jackson: 178/269/305 in 135 PA in 1967 
Joe Rudi: 186/239/233 in 46 PA in 1967

So if a player gets called up to the big leagues and struggles initially, don't presume all is lost. Not everybody hits the ground running. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

"glossy team photos that I sent for"

i miss the team "picture packs" that used to be more common.  cubs had some nice ones in the 60 and early 70s, especially.

i recently picked up a cubs one from 1944 featuring one of the very few mass produced images of jimmie foxx as a cub.  there's not a lot of wartime stuff out there for obvious resource intensive reasons.

Phil, 

Because Cubs had no night baseball, I went to a lot of Sox night games at the old Comiskey in the 80s. We saw most of the AL but tried never to miss the As. Something about those games hit different. I even had a satin As Starter jacket.    

angels give r.stephenson a 3yr deal.  the top pen arms are getting thinner.

i dunno if the cubs are even looking relief help at this point.  if they are i imagine lefties like matt moore or wandy peralta are on their radar...or phil maton if they're scrounging the bargain bin...or aroldis chapman if they want the last big dog lefty in a thin field.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

GEORGE A: It somewhat depends on whether the DFA is after the Cubs add a position player or a pitcher, but I would say: 

1. Yency Almonte: Signed a $1.9M contract with the Dodgers last November to avoid being non-tendered. He is out of minor league options so he lacks "shuttle" fungibility during the season. If he gets claimed off waivers the Cubs get $50,000 and save $1.9M in salary and 2024 AAV. If he makes it through waivers and gets outrighted, I doubt that he would elect free-agency and forfeit his $1.9M salary so the Cubs cxould keep him as depth at AAA. But if he does elect free-agency after being outrighted, the Cubs save the $1.9M in salary and AAV. Also note that if Almonte accrues 29 days of MLB Service Time he will attain Article XIX-A status, meaning he cannot be sent outright to the minors without his consent (the Cubs would have to either keep him on their MLB 26-man roster or release him and eat his salary).  

2. Michael Rucker: Although Rucker is probably the next in line to get a DFA (30 years old in 2024 with a high floor / low ceiling and so probably fairly easy to replace), he is a legit, healthy, experienced MLB middle-reliever with a minor league option available so he has some value as a AAA "shuttle" depth guy, and because of that he would probably get claimed off waivers. Fungibility matters in the pen. (Rucker will be out of minor league options in 2025)

3. Caleb Kilian: One of three guys on the 40 who took a step backward in 2023 (Brennen Davis and Keegan Thompson are the other two). Kilian may be one of the Cubs pitching prospects who did not benefit from the Pitch Lab and so he might benefit from a reset in a new organization. He is just AAA "shuttle" depth at this point. (Kilian will get a 4th minor league option in 2025).  

4. Brennen Davis: He doesn't appear to be the same player who was MVP in the MLB Futures Game at Coors Field in 2021. While the 2022 back surgery might have taken away back pain and will make his life better in the long run (which is good for him), it also may have affected his flexibility, because he does not seem to be the same hitter he was prior to the surgery. Because of his pedigree the Cubs will PROBABLY give him another year at AAA (or at least a couple of months) to see if there is any improvement over 2023, but otherwise his remaining time on the 40 might be short.  

5. Keegan Thompson: Nobody on the 40 had a worse 2023 than Keegan Thompson. This time last year he was projected to be a key member of the staff (multi-inning reliever) in 2023, but it just didn't happen. His FB velo was down a couple of ticks all year (if you remember, I first reported it during Spring Training). I suspect he Cubs would like to see if he can somehow get back to where he was in 2022 (because he was REALLY good that year) before they cut him loose, and, like Rucker and Kilian, he has some "shuttle" depth value because has has a minor league option available in case he doesn't make the MLB Opening Day roster, but if there is no improvement in his stuff (especially his FB velo) in Spring Training he will probably not last much longer on the 40. (K. Thompson will be 30 years old and out of minor league options in 2025, so his clock is ticking).  

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

AZ Phil: Speculating on Keegan Thompson’s issues has puzzled me. Did he not comply with a good offseason program or  was there a subtle injury? It’s can’t be  an aging issue. I don’t feel like it was the dreaded…”prospect progress is often not linear” situation. Any other thoughts on KT.

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

CUBSTER: I don't know the cause, but whatever it might be was evident right at the start of Spring Training and never seemed to get better. I would think if there was an injury he would have reported it and it would have been addressed medically before the start of the season (he had shoulder and lower back issues in 2022, but was apparently healthy at 2023 Spring Training). He was on the Iowa IL mid-June to mid-July, but he was working regularly out of the Iowa bullpen and was on the shuttle between Des Moines and Chicago in August & September. 

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

GEORGE A: It used to be that way, but not anymore. A change was negotiated in the most-recent CBA. The way it works now is, If a player eligible for salary arbitration signs a contract prior to a salary arbitration hearing or even prior to filing for salary arbitration, the contract is 100% guaranteed. That also includes contracts signed prior to the MLB contract tender date (as was the case with Almonte). 

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

Jay Jackson and Paul Blackburn come to mind. I remember hoping each would make it as a Cub pitching prospect only to see them eventually emerge in other organizations as bullpen guys with reasonable mlb careers. Actually, it happens throughout the league quite a bit and it’s more about opportunity, timing, coaching, persistence, developing a new pitch and probably quite a few other factors.

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

CUBSTER: Jay Jackson had a very long (EXTREMELY long) development arc, eventually making his MLB debut (briefly) when he was with his fifth organization, seven years after he was drafted. And even then he did not make it to MLB to stay (sort of) until he spent several seasons pitching in Mexico and Japan. So I can't fault the Cubs on that one. 

Paul Blackburn was a legit prospect. He was traded to Seattle with Dan Vogelbach for Mike Montgomery, who as we all know got the save in Game #7 of the 2016 World Series. I'm not sure that Paul Blackburn could have done that, at least not at that point in his career (he was still in AA in 2016). 

after crapping on the cubs focus for most of the offseason, i feel like putting some positivity out there...

miguel amaya.  let's not forget that his injury laden career has always been followed by a comeback that didn't miss a beat.  though i have concerns about his 2023 alarming lack of arm strength that didn't used to be an issue, i love his bat (for a catcher) and the rest of his defense is solid.  he's the assumed #2 catcher in 2024, but his progress is worth keeping an eye on.

michael busch.  hopefully last season was his "breaking in" season and he'll progress into MLB-ready.  he may be jed's rizzo.  as cubs fans we all hope he's jed's rizzo.  he's as good of a bet as any prospect in all of mlb to be the next rizzo.

daniel palencia.  at worst he's probably j.merryweather and that's not bad even if not lights-out.

javier assad.  he had a cruddy april and june.  the rest was excellent.  whether he wins the 5 spot or he's in the pen he delivered quality in both slots in 2023.

christopher morel.  i like christopher morel.  he'll probably play 3-5 different defensive slots in 2024.  i'm rooting for him everywhere he plays because baseball needs guys like him around and i'm glad we got him on the cubs.  the explosive velocity he gets out of swinging a bat is crazy nice even if the swing/miss can get a bit cringe.

seiya suzuki.  i still believe he's both a better hitter and defender than he's shown.  that's all.  he doesn't have to do much more to prove it, but he needs to do it consistently.

I would say the top six free agents still on the market are Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger, Jordan Montgomery, Matt Chapman, J. D. Martinez, and Rhys Hoskins, and they all have one thing in common. Scott Boras is their agent. Even the top two pitchers most often mentioned as possible trade candidates (Corbin Burnes and Dylan Cease) are Boras clients, and so they will almost certainly not sign a contract extension before hitting free-agency (Burnes post-2024 and Cease post-2025) unless the extension sets a new total $$$ value & AAV record for pitchers (and even then an extension would not be certain). 

Not even considering Boras's specific, peculiar, and somewhat unique characteristics as an agent, for one agent to be representing all six of the best available free agents gives that agent a tremendous advantage, because normally one agent does not know what another agent has discussed with a particular club. But Boras knows everything there is to know about all six of his players and the expressed needs, desires, and financial restrictions of all 30 clubs. No matter who signs who, Boras will know that he has taken the best deal he can possibly get for each of the six players, because he doesn't have to worry about another agent cutting a deal or a club using him as a stalking horse. 

Scott Boras is in complete control right now. He can essentially take as much time as he wishes (within reason) to make a decision. The only danger for him (and his clients) is if he waits too long and/or overplays his hand and one of his free-agents is left out in the cold.  

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

If things continue to drag on for the Boras free agents, don't be surprised if he sets up his own Spring Training Camp in Arizona where Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Rhys Hoskins, J. D. Martinez, James Paxton, Julio Urias, Shintaro Fujinami, Elvis Andrus, Joey Gallo, Hyun Jin Ryu, Jurickson Profar, Zach Davies, et al, can get into game shape. (I say Arizona because the Spring Training "baseball weather" in Arizona tends to be better than it is in Florida, plus Spring Training facilities are much closer together in Arizona than they are in Florida, making it easier for MLB scouts and executives to watch the workouts). Also, it would seem that the majority of MLB clubs interested in signing Boras clients and with the wherewithal to do it (Cubs, LAA, SF, LAD, and TEX, and perhaps SEA, SD, and AZ) are based in Arizona. 

It would involve renting a facility (perhaps the old Giants facility at Indian School Park in Scottsdale) and hiring a couple of bullpen catchers to catch the pitchers, a trainer, a strength & conditioning coach, four or five coaches with MLB experience to run the camp ( a couple of pitching coaches, a hitting coach, a defense & baserunning coach, and a field coordinator). 

The pitchers could throw bullpens initially and (eventually) "live" BP (just like they do the first couple of weeks of Spring Training) and the position players can take BP initially versus a machine or with coaches throwing then eventually against "live" pitching (so Blake Snell could throw to Cody Bellinger and Jordan Montgomery could face Matt Chapman...), with the pitchers maybe even eventually throwing "sim" games to ramp up pitch counts and innings.

The position players could do baserunning and defensive drills in addition to taking BP. Obviously MLB Spring Training games can't be replicated, but I'm not sure that matters much to veteran guys as long as they are getting into game shape and the pitchers & position players are at least engaging in "live" BP.  

So there really is no reason for Boras clients to hurry up and sign before the start of Spring Training. As long as enough of his guys remain unsigned to make it worthwhile, Boras can operate a camp like this well into March (though probably not much past March 15th).   

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

And severance pay even if the player opts out (like the $5M Cody Bellinger got after he declined his part of the $25M 2024 mutual option), performance bonuses (for example, I would expect Rhys Hoskins to get the same $1M bonus for winning Comeback Player of the Year like Cody Bellinger had in his contract last year), and salary escalators.
 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

kinda side-stepping, but i wonder if rhys hoskins will avoid the cubs if he's not guaranteed to be playing 1st.  i dunno he's ready to pigeonhole himself into a DH-only role even if his play at 1st when health is "meh" at best.

they could technically put the new kid at 3rd, but there's strong indication from the cubs they see him at 1st.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Rhys Hoskins did play 1st base for the Phillies after he was moved there from LF (where he was awful), but he was bad at 1st base, too, and that was pre-knee injury. Any club that plays Hoskins anywhere but DH will pay a price defensively, and I can't see the Cubs doing that.  

Michael Busch was a 1st baseman in college, and by all accounts pre-draft in 2019 he was an OK defender there. Certainly better than Rhys Hoskins.

As far as signing Rhys Hoskins to be the DH, right now it would appear that Christopher Morel will be the Cubs primary DH in 2024. So unless Morel is traded (possible) or somehow someway wins the starting 3rd base job (which probably wouldn't be determined for sure until the end of Spring Training), I don't see where Hoskins fits in the Cubs 2024 projected lineup or on the Cubs roster as it is presently constituted. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

the longer this whole thing drags on, the more i see the cubs going with morel + bench scraps (madrigal/etc) at 3rd and signing a DH bat just to get some more power in the potential lineup.  i figure the cubs will have very little issue playing morel at CF, LF, etc, too.

also imagine they'll end up signing one of the bargain LHP relievers, too.  not many teams have been linked to chapman, but the cubs aren't one of them.

ryne sandberg has prostate cancer and is receiving treatment.  no idea what stage, but it is metastatic.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Quick primer. Most solid tumor cancers are categorized by stages 1-4.  Metastatic spread is by definition stage 4 and implies there is evidence of spread beyond the primary organ to lymph nodes or remote areas. Prostate CA when it metastasizes is often to bone (pelvis and spine) but also lung and liver are  seen. When caught early, cure is possible and the most common screening test is the PSA (prostate specific antigen). Metastatic spread is never a good sign and the 5 year survival rate gives a sense of the prognosis although things are rapidly changing with ongoing improvements in chemo and radiation techniques.

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

gotcha.  cancers of different types are so radically different in treatment and prognosis.

i'm a type 2 colon cancer survivor and oddly, i know a bit about breast cancer based solely on the women i shared radiation room appointments with over the months and them talking shop.

then there's ones that blow me away like bladder cancer.  i've known 2 who have had it and both were treated in 1-time office visits with local anesthesia in-office surgery.  no chemo, no radiation, just a slew of followup checkups.  bad news, you have cancer.  good news, see you in a few weeks and we'll wrap that crap up.

angels sign m.moore 1yr/9m

brewers r.hoskins 2yr/34m with an opt-out

meanwhile the cubs are busy fighting with the city to get the sportsbook at Wrigley Field 100% legally approved with a gaming license before the season starts.  that's not entirely fair.  they'd like it be approved before March Madness basketball.

ryne stanek linked to the cubs (and others) according to bob nightengale.

he's a righty reliever, so the cubs may be looking beyond a LHP solution in the pen.

not exactly lights-out, but not junk...aka, the same middle-road path the cubs have been on for a while.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Robert Stephenson, Phil Maton, and Ryne Stanek were probably the top three post-2023 FA non-closer type RHRP in the "younger" veteran (age 31-32) class, and Stephenson got 3/$33M ($11M AAV), so I would think both Maton and Stanek would want something close to what Stephenson got (maybe something like 3/$27M or 2/$20M). So if the Cubs can get Stanek or Maton for something like 2/$18M they would probably do it

cubs have 7 prospects in the mlb.com "pipeline" top 100

16 - Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, CHC

26 - Cade Horton, RHP, CHC

47 - Owen Caissie, OF, CHC

51 - Michael Busch, INF, CHC

54 - Matt Shaw, SS/2B, CHC

65 - Kevin Alcántara, OF, CHC

73 - James Triantos, 2B, CHC

m.busch at 51 seems too low.  even if he's "only" a 1st prospect i feel like his bat should be respected a bit more.

cj edwards returns to the cubs on a minor league deal with an invite to ST.  i like this one.

shoulder concerns, but great upside on the cheap with no roster obligation.

if he makes the team we've doubled the amount of 2016 champs with the cubs.  woo.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Carl Edwards Jr is a post-2023 Article XX-B MLB FA who signed a 2024 minor league contract, so... 

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 not selected to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) or MLB 60-day Injured List by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 4th day prior to MLB Opening Day, the player can unilaterally opt-out of the minor league contract immediately, or on May 1st if he has not been added to an MLB Active List (26-man roster) or MLB 60-day IL by that date, or on June 1st if he has not been added to an MLB Active List (26-man roster) or MLB IL by that date.
NOTE: The $100,000 retention bonus paid to an Article XX-B free-agent signed to a minor league contract who is not released or added to an MLB Active List or MLB 60-day IL by MLB Opening Day was eliminated in 2023.

Also, because he has Article XIX-A rights (meaning he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), Edwards cannot be sent to the minors without his consent if he is added to the 40 at some point in 2024 (he is out of minor league options, so this only applies to Edwards being sent outright to the minors if & when he is added to the 40). 

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Carl Edwards Jr was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder in August and missed the rest of the 2023 season - AFTER - already spending two months on the IL with right shoulder inflammation, so this could be more of a "sign & go directly to Mesa rehab" thing. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

dunno where he is with the throwing rehab, but he's been doing heavy weight-work this winter.

video of him doing 170+lb deadlifts a couple months ago on his instagram.  that won't break any records and it's not the most shoulder-intensive lift, but he's a small-framed guy (for an athlete) coming off a shoulder injury.

Jed adds RP Hector Neris for 9mil, option for '25. Could be 23mil total eventually. 

Fastball/splitter guy.

Leiter gone? Or Almonte?

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

The problem with performance bonuses is that they are added onto a club's AAV at the conclusion of the MLB regular season if they are attained, and thereby could cause the AAV to exceed the CBT threshold. That's why CBT tax liability cannot be determined until after the conclusion of the season. 

So therefore a club has to subtract potential performance bonuses from what appears to be the club's available AAV for that season, at least until the club can determine with some certainty that a particular performance bonus cannot be reached.

For example, Drew Smyly could get up to an additional $3M in performances bonuses if he reaches a certain number of innings (but he would have to be at least a part-time SP in order to reach even the first the bonus), Yan Gomes can get up to an additional $1M in bonuses based upon starting a certain number (fairly substantial number) of games at catcher, and Shota Imanaga gets $250K if he wins N. L. Rookie of the Year.  

So the Smyly $3M, the Gomes $1M, the Imanaga $250K, and the Neris $2.5M have to be added to the Cubs projected AAV (at least until it can be determined that the bonus cannot be reached).  

Therefore, with about $7M in AAV dedicated for potential bonuses, $5M in AAV having to be dedicated to pay the salaries of players replacing players on the IL, another $1M to pay the minor league split salaries for players on optional assignment to the minors, $1.67M to pay into the MLB Pre-Arbitration Bonus Pool, and $16M to pay for Player Benefit Costs, the Cubs right now have about $25M available in 2024 AAV (probably just enough to sign Cody Bellinger, but nobody else) - IF - they are using the 2024 CBT threshold ($237M) as their self-imposed payroll limit. And that $25M available in 2024 AAV presumes the Cubs are not setting any AAV aside for acquisitions at the Trade Deadline. 

Note that one way the Cubs could increase their available AAV would be to trade Hendricks and/or Smyly.  

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Michael Rucker gets Designated for Assignment to open 40-man roster slot for Hector Neris. Because he has been outrighted previously in his career. Rucker can elect free-agency (immediately or deferred until after conclusion of MLB regular season) if he isn't claimed off waivers and gets outrighted. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

As an Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signed a Major League contract after 11:59 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series, Hector Neris will have an automatic "no trade" right through June 15th. The player can waive this right, but if he does he can be traded only for cash and/or player contracts with a maximum aggregate value of $50,000. 
NOTE: An Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signs a minor league contract after 11:59 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series does NOT receive an automatic "no trade" right, even if the player is later added to the club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster). 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

The Cubs have traded RHP Michael Rucker to the Phillies for ca$h. Rucker had been Designated for Assignment by the Cubs last week to open up an MLB 40-man roster slot for RHP Hector Neris. If the Cubs hadn't traded Rucker by 1 PM (Eastern) today (Tuesday 2/6) they would have had to place him on Outright Assignment Waivers so that his "assignment" could be effected within the required seven-day DFA period (Rucker was DFA'd last Thursday and it takes two business days for a player to clear waivers), and a player cannot be traded while he is on waivers. 

Normally when a club trades a DFA'd player for cash prior to placing the player on waivers it means a club with a poor waiver claiming priority (the Phillies are #24) really wants the player but are worried that the player will get claimed off waivers by another club with a better waiver claiming priority. (The Phillies did exactly the same thing about a year ago when they acquired RHP Erich Uelmen from the Cubs for cash after he was Designated for Assignment but before he was placed on waivers). 

Typically the cash amount involved in a trade like this will be $100,000 (twice the waiver claiming fee and the same price as selecting as player in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft). 

The Cubs also probably had the option of acquiring RHP Andrew Bellatti (DFA'd by the Phillies after they acquired Rucker) instead of taking the cash, but the Cubs obviously were not interested since they would have needed to clear another slot on the 40.     

BTW, the main difference between Bellatti and Rucker (and probably the main reason the Phillies "exchanged" Bellatti for Rucker) is that Bellatti is out of minor league options, while Rucker has one option left, making Rucker more "fungible" (and thus more valuable) than Bellatti, even though they are essentially the same pitcher. 

Neris has had UNBELIEVABLE health in his career. In 14 pro seasons, Neris has been on the IL just once, and that was for three weeks in the CoViD season. 

bit surprised one of kilian - wesn - assad hasn't been traded by this point...or even smyly.

i would add k.thompson, but i can't imagine there's a market for his arm compared to the other guys.

Pitching is hardly one of the Cubs strong points.  Why would they trade Wesneski or Assad?  Even Kilian probably has more value as a reliever than they could get in trade for him.

 

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

the MLB-ready are kilian, wesn, assad, and wicks...without getting k.thompson involved.

the 2024 AAA/MLB-ready potential pipeline includes b.brown and c.horton without getting into the possible fringe guys.

they're SP-capable top-heavy.

good place to be and rarely a team is excessively abundant in this much AAA/MLB calibre talent at the same time.  some guys are way more talented than others in this list of names, but almost all those guys would be able to find a home on a MLB roster or pop to the top of the AAA-MLB pipeline on many clubs.

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

seen both of those guys plus assad over the off-season in rumors.  since they tipped their hat they were looking another RP i was kinda surprised there wasn't a bit more urgency in unloading some (or one) of their excess SP on the 40-man.

i would be sweating a bit if i was m.rucker or k.thompson right now even though neither may make it past waivers if exposed.  the cubs could go full nuclear and decide to gamble b.davis will slip past any other teams.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

CRUNCH: I doubt that the Cubs would necessarily want to try and pass Brennen Davis through waivers just yet, but if he doesn't show much in Spring Training and/or over the first couple of months of the AAA season they might. But I think it is probably more likely that the Cubs will trade B. Davis before it gets to the point where they place him on waivers. Keep in mind that B. Davis hit two HR and was MVP in the Futures Game at Coors Field in 2021 (although that was pre-back surgery), so the Rockies might want to take a chance on him if the Cubs decide to cut bait and place him on waivers. 

There also is a possibility that the Cubs might try and "exchange" B. Davis for somebody like Jo Adell (Angels). You may remember that Adell was the Angels #1 prospect as recently as 2021, but since then he has been disappointing at the MLB level and now he is out of options. The Cubs do have a need for a RH-hitting MLB-ready CF to platoon with Mike Tauchman (or even with PCA when he arrives), especially if they do not sign Bellinger. While it might seem tempting to play Alexander Canario in CF, he is really a RF, while Adell is a legit CF who is blocked there long-term by Mike Trout and thus has had to play corner OF, which squanders some of his defensive value. 

It’s the new market inefficiency. Touted prospects with uninspiring initial mlb showings that have their pathway oddly blocked. It used to be called a change of scenery trade. I like AZ Phil’s suggestion here as the Cubs need more CF options over RF options.

Justin Turner to Toronto.
Sounds like Wisdom is safe for now.
Belt is still out there and I like him and Wisdom platooning at DH if Morel/Madrigal get 3B.
Morel/Madrigal at 3B
Busch/Wisdom/Belt at 1B and DH (Morel at DH as well)
RH Bats: Gomes-Amaya-Nico-Dansby-Morel-Wisdom-Madrigal-Seiya
Switch: Happ
LH Bats: Busch-Belt-Tauchman-Belli or PCA
AZ Phil has pointed out we don't have a solid RH hitting CF defense option. 
Canario is better at the corner OF spots for sure.
Maybe a trade is still out there.
I like adding Belt though against RH pitching. He's not Hosmer.
 

[ ]

In reply to by Childersb3

Not an insider of course but as a guess I think here’s where we’re at:

Gomes

Busch

Nico

Swanson 

Madrigal (gross)

Happ

Tauchman

Seiya 

Morel


Amaya

Wisdom (platoon with Busch and sometimes gives Happ a day in a good SP matchup for wisdom) maybe swaps in for Madrigal occasionally.

Mastrobuoni (backs up 2B 3B maybe a little OF

Canario 

If Bellinger comes back I would swap him in for Tauchman and Tauchman moves into Canario’s spot

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

As of today, you're probably right.
I'm just hoping Jed adds Belli (moves Tauch to bench and Canario to Iowa) and Belt (moves Mastro to Iowa).
We have enough guys who can play 2B, SS and 3B right now. Mastro doesn't fill any holes anymore.
I'm not a fan of Madrigal at 3B either, but Jed didn't make any moves there. 
It appears he didn't get the trade he wanted and Chapman only comes here on a magical prove it deal.
Same with Bellinger, but that deal would be a little better for Belli.
All signs point to Jed really believing in his prospects getting here by 2025, and him not wanting to block them. 
PCA and Shaw top the list. Maybe Caissie next, but that's primarily as a DH. Alcantara is still blocked in most respects.
A trade is still out there for Jed to make. Either dealing the prospects or the some 30-ish yr old veterans. All of this within the next year (hopefully).
Jed is really patient. Got to give it to him.
He feels no pressure to win now from ownership.

mostly-forgotten 2016 trade deadline bullpen arm joe smith has retired.

he had a rough start to his cubs career, got injured for a couple weeks, then returned in september to put up a 10.2ip 5h 1bb 14k performance with only 1 run given up.  he was left off the post-season roster in a bit of a controversial move.

neris's option goes from club to player if he makes 60 appearances.  he's really good at getting 60+ appearances.

neris is expected to work a setup role.

orioles trade for corbin boo-urns.

MIL picks up a nice MLB-ready lefty pen arm (dl hall) and a SS/2nd near-MLB prospect (joey ortiz)...and a competitive balance trade pick from BAL (#34).

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Corbin Burnes and Dylan Cease are the two Scott Boras pitcher clients who were supposedly on the trading block this off season, the main difference being Burnes is a FA post-2024 (so he is strictly a one-year rental) and Cease is under control through 2025. So the trade price for Cease will almost certainly exceed the price for Burnes by at least one more top prospect than what the Brewers got. 

As far as the players the Brewers got back, Joey Ortiz is the second oldest player in the MLB Top 100 pipeline rankings (Michael Busch is the oldest), but both Ortiz and Busch are really good MLB-ready prospects who had no future in their former organizations but should be ready to play right away with their new clubs. Ortiz was totally blocked at SS in Baltimore, but he is a legit SS and should be the Brewers SS once they trade Willy Adames (which will probably be the next Brew Crew shoe to drop, now that they have Ortiz).   

LHP DL Hall was used out of the bullpen in Baltimore, but he will almost certainly be a SP with the Brewers. He should slot into the starting rotation from Day One and could be their #2 SP (behind Peralta) by mid-season. 

The Brewers also got a 2024 Competitive Balance Round "A" draft pick (#34 overall) back from the Orioles in the deal. 

So this was actually a good return for the Brewers. 

FWIW, the only draft picks that can be traded are Competitive Balance picks (like the one the Brewers just got) and Rule 4 Draft SBP forfeited picks, and these two types of draft picks can be traded only during a period of time beginning on December 2nd and extending up until two hours prior to the start of the MLB Rule 4 Draft, and once traded the pick cannot be flipped to a third club. (Depending on how much a club spent in bonuses in excess of 5% over its assigned Rule 4 Draft Signing Bonus Pool, a club will forfeit one or two draft picks in the next Rule 4 Draft, and each SBP forfeited pick is reassigned to another MLB club as chosen by lottery, which BTW has never happened). 

PCA got some bellinger takes...

"I want him to come back. I just like him as a human being and as a teammate.”

d.swanson make some waves at the cubs con saying the team has "got to resign belli."

fans want it.  players want it.  cubs want...i dunno, more in-season concerts and the sportsbook to get state approval before march madness...or whatever...

also, the marquee spring training games will be called remotely (like back during COVID times) as a cost-saving move rather than sending a crew out to ARZ.  not a huge deal, but still...yeah.

There are an awful lot of people that want the Cubs to sign Bellinger regardless of what it costs.  I have noticed one trend, however.  A great many of those who want him signed regardless of cost, want him to be paid with other people's money.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

well yeah, i want the billionaire owners that have turned wrigley and the neighborhood around wrigley into a massive circus tent to hire adequately funny clowns for their circus show.

they have realized a club value extremely greater than their buy-in not too long ago...a very nice return on investment.

also, are we supposed to forget they tried to buy the f'n chelsea football club not too long ago?

I'm not sure what their buying another sports team has to do with anything.  Just about every major sports team is owned by someone that has extensive financial interests beyond their team.  About the only ones that don't are the owners of the Bears, and everyone hates them.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

well, the other sports team isn't a minor league hockey team in tennessee or something, it's a world-class soccer club that ended up selling for 3.5 billion.

as a fan, seeing an entity turn the park into a digital billboard, buy up a ton of surrounding property, and have all of it based on the product on the field...when it comes to spending 20-30 more million on the field product it's a decision i want based on something other than figuring out whether it will bring enough money in ticket sales and hot dogs to make it worth doing.

they've realized a valuation of the club 5x their purchase price 15 years ago.  that lets you do things like get financing to partner up and attempt to buy 3 billion dollar soccer clubs.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

btw, i've gone on about wrigley's massive development and the surrounding properties, but as far as how they rolled it out and it presents itself...it looks good.

i got 0 complaints on the monetization of the park and i'm glad most of it was done well.  that DraftKings building they added on is a bit tacky, though.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Exactly why I don't get Bill"s take on those of us wanting Jed to have Tom's approval to go over $237M AAV. AND no matter how many times he tries to justify a 'big' contract for Bellinger being a 'bad' business decision, he can talk to the hand. 

After Ohtani, Cody is the second best FA hitter on the market. Oh, and he's a Gold Glove at 1B and any OF position, and provides what your lineup lacks - LH power. Signing him is a pants first, then shoes type decision any major market franchise should make.

Really, it's not that hard.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

Actually, I would love to have Jed get the Ricketts approval to go over the 237 million limit and get Bellinger or whoever.  But that is based on the fact that it isn't my money that would be spent.  Whether we like it or not, baseball is a business, not a charity, and to expect the owners to wildly spend their money because the fans want new toys is probably not a reasonable expectation.  When your daughter demands her 43rd Barbie doll, sometimes it just isn't worth it, even though you COULD afford it.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

Ok. But imagine that the Cubs are a daughter who uses Barbie dolls to win baseball games, and their next Barbie doll could help them win more baseball games than the neighbor's daughters, whose parents don't really have the Barbie budget you do but somehow make your daughter (the Cubs) look like a schmuck most years. Also when your daughter's Barbies win baseball games you make money and use that to buy elections and soccer teams and stuff.

[ ]

In reply to by Charlie

Your question really answers itself.  Baseball teams are owned by business men, and are meant to provide profit.  Any rational businessman tries to maximize his profit over the long run.  If the purchase of that additional Barbie Doll would result in more long term profit for the owner, then he would do it.  The fact that he doesn't would indicate that the additional long term profit is not reasonably expected, or that the risk exceeds the rewards.  Otherwise he would buy lots of extra Barbie Dolls.

What the owner does with his profits seem irrelivant to me.  It is his money and if he wants to buy other investments with that money, it doesn't really matter to me, any more than what you do with YOUR money matters to me.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

we are the consumer and have the power to demand more.  they don't have to listen, but they do have to hear it.  it's probably why the ricketts quit coming to cubs cons and holding panels.

they "won" the profit war over a decade ago, big time won.

we've sat through punt years and running this club like they're a mid-market team that "might add someone mid-season if we're competitive" more seasons than we should for an organization that's seen OVER 3 BILLION DOLLARS of value realized on their investment.

i'm not gonna carry water for someone that bought something for 900K and realized a 4+ billion valuation in 15 years...and that's just the team, not all the stuff outside the park that's value comes directly from the existence of the team, itself.

those rooftop bleachers across from wrigley they bought are worth nothing without a team on the field.  it's just a roof.  that hotel is just another upscale city hotel without a baseball game going on in walking distance.  etc...

go put some more millions into the product that made you rich on our fandom.  it's not a big ask.  it's a normal ask for many teams on a yearly basis.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Well, no.  No one realizes the increased value of their investment until they sell that investment.  The value of their investment has gone up because of their continued invetments in the infrastructure (a quarter of a billion dollars to rebuild Wrigley Field and it's environment) as well as a vast investment in their minor league system, coaching and scouting staff, pitching and hitting labs, and other peripheral activities.  But profit is an ongoing thing, and when deciding to make a large new investment (a 300 million dollar signing) any responsible manager will compare the cost of that investment with the expected LONG TERM RETURN of that investment.  Of course we have the right to make our opinions known (both you and I) and ownership should take into account the wishes of their customers, but it is probably a good idea to remember that fans like us, that live and die with these decisions, probably do not make up the average fan base of any team.  And fans like us probably do not have the information available to us that ownership has when they make these decisions.  We can make our views known, but in the end, our only recourse is to take our custom elsewhere.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

no one who buys a team is excited about how they're making 10-50m a season owning/financing the team.  none of them are relying on this money to pay the bills for the most part.

they experience increased ability to borrow against assets with more favorable borrowing conditions.  they get their windfall when they exit their investment and i can't remember the last time a team owner sold their share for a loss even when taking year-to-year inflation in consideration.

i'm rooting for the cubs, not for the ricketts ability to finance soccer team purchases or bringing in more profit than the mets.

i get no pleasure or joy from the investment bringing in 60m profit vs 30m profit on a yearly basis.  i don't know why anyone but a few dozen people would...

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

Bill - Sorry this is so long! More this year than in past years, I've felt the need to express what you said above. I appreciate you writing it so coherently. I personally really respect what the Cubs are doing and have done as a front office. They are trying to build a perpetually competitive organization that can withstand the test of time by remaining competitive every year rather than having major rebuilds every 4-6 years. The best model for that is responsible spending (even if you exceed the luxury tax, you can be a responsible spender) and building a strong, sustainable farm system (being able to trade players from that farm system is part of what makes it strong). The Cubs are always exhausting every option (i.e. trades, free agency, draft, international signings, etc.) and are always looking to exploit the next market inefficiency. They know what players are worth (at least to this organization) and they won't pay more in money or prospects to acquire those assets unless it's their only option. There's still time this offseason to sign or trade for valuable players who will help this Cubs team win in 2024, so rather than overreact or bid against themselves, they're waiting everyone out. The Cubs have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, etc. and in their minds, all of those plans will likely work out successfully, but Plan A likely involves players & agents settling for the Cubs' terms, while Plans X, Y, and Z likely require much more compromise on the Cubs end (in terms of money, length of contract, or players to trade). 

Regardless, I'm thankful that the Cubs are not becoming hamstrung with 10 year - $300 million contracts for players who might have 3-4 more good years, or even Bellinger at $200 million or Snell at Strasburg terms.

I believe in developing your own players, trading for younger guys that you want to sign long term (follow the Braves' model), and supplement with short-term free agents. If you have to break one of those rules once or twice, no big deal (Swanson), but the reasoning for doing so should match the risk taken (for Swanson: defense, leadership, winning attitude, decent offense for a SS, etc.).

The Cubs WILL do something more this offseason because there is still money that needs to be spent and roster openings that need to be filled, but it might look different than what everyone is hoping for (1-2 year contracts for older players like Brandon Belt or injury reclamations like Brandon Woodruff). 

I prefer that to overspending on someone who could choose to stop trying because he's already been paid, or failing to repeat past success because it was a fluke, etc.

[ ]

In reply to by Wrigley Rat

In my opinion, the responsibility for the Cubs situation for the past 5 years is directly due to Epstein.  He knew that  the Cubs were looking at a sharp drop off a cliff, due to the fact that their 3 best players were all due for free agency in the same year, with the 4th due the following year.  This complicated with the fact that their top three pitchers were aging and likely to be gone by then, having to be replaced by high priced free agents.  And of course, they were sailing along just under or just over the luxory tax line with no plan on how to squeeze the cost of new replacements or of re-signing of those approaching free agency.

With this cliff in sight, Epstein chose the worst possible solution.  He decided to squeeze one last good year before the “window” closed, rather than doing what was necessary to extend that window.  He traded the only top pitching prospect, and the only good hitting prospect, for a pitcher that was slightly above average at best.  The result, of course, was that the Cubs struggled to be slightly above average while they rapidly approached the day where they would be forced to a total rebuild.

There was a much better way to do this.  They should have decided to trade one of the three stars, probably Bryant, and started an early rebuild of the farm system.  The following year either Baez or Rizzo should have followed.  With what they received in trade, which would have been more substantial since they were trading them with substantial control years ahead of them, insted of months, and by avoiding the loss of Cease and Jiminez, they would not have had the total drop off that devestated the team.

At least they seem to have learned a lesson from the above, and have invested strongly in scouting, coaching and research infrastructure, that are just now starting to produce results.  Once they have more information on who will succede (PCA, Busch, Amaya, Horton, Wicks, etc, they will have a better feel for where to spend their money when the time is right to go over the luxory tax limit.  But doing so before then negates the purpose of the strengthening of the farm system.

It is easy for fans to set their sight on the upcoming season, and as I have said earlier, I would love it if they would spend whatever money needed to increase their success potential for this season.  Bu I am sick and tired of their doing so at the expense of many future seasons.  I am sick of the recurring need for rebuilding.

[ ]

In reply to by Bill

You are probably correct. If ownership thought they would make a ratio of profit to investment that is worthwhile to them, they would do it. That is assuming they are purely profit motivated.  But I think it's reasonable for fans to be dissatisified with an ownership that can't find ways to turn a better or equal profit from a competitive team as they can from a middling team. Assuming that's the situation, it fundamentally shows they are not very good in their role.

[ ]

In reply to by Charlie

I agree entirely.  However, I would point out that the competitive level of the team is much greater under this ownership than any previous one that I know of, and that the trajectory of the competitiveness is trending upwards, rather than downwards, in the long run.  The minor league system, that has to be the basis of every successful team over the long run, is looking stronger than it ever has before in my experience.  The world of baseball does not end with the conclusion of the 2024 season.

And one other Jed off-season move. Why the hell, if AAV is that tight, did he pick up Hendricks $15 option?

In what world would a 2024 Hendricks provide the same WAR or value any combination of Wicks/Assad/Brown? At about $13-14M less.

If payroll is that tight, Jed should be working overtime trying to shed as much of the $25M owed him and Smyly.

If Bellinger gets 1-2 early opt outs, as long as he doesn’t tank completely, Boras will be taking him back to market. 

Phil:

I'm taking a break from the Belli watch for a minute.
I'm not sure if this is a common issue among all MLB teams, but the 21st Century Cubs 2nd Rd (31st pick to 60s picks) history is a pretty rough
We traded Hill, LeMahieu, Donaldson, Ferris
Triantos has potential
But not one multi-season Cub has been produced from our 2nd Rd selections

Ferris was the 2nd pick that was eessentially a 1st Rder. BDavis got hurt. Strumpf has his SO/contact issues.

Any thoughts on this, or is just bad luck or cost saving technique nowadays?

[ ]

In reply to by Childersb3

Childersb3: Without going too deep into the weeds, Tim Wilken (Jim Hendry's high school buddy from Dunedin) was hired by the Cubs as Scouting Director in 2006, and the Cubs second pick in the draft under Wilken in the years 2006-2011 netted Jeff Samardzija, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Flaherty, DJ LeMahieu (Wilken rated his bat a "70"), and Dan Vogelbach in five of those six seasons, while the Cubs second picks in the draft selected under Epstein/Hoyer since 2012 who have made it to the bigs (to stay) are Pierce Johnson and Alex Lange. Twice as many years, not even half as many players. And guess where Wilken is now. He is a senior scout with the Diamondbacks.  

The Cubs made it to the playoffs in 2015, won the World Series in 2016, and remained contenders 2017-20 under the guidance of Epstein-Hoyer thanks to inheriting Baez and Contreras from Hendry/Wilken, inheriting and then flipping Cashner, Samardzija, Dempster, Garza, Soriano, Castro, Vogelbach, and Candelario in trades, three successive excellent 1st round draft picks 2013-15 (Bryant, Schwarber, and Happ, plus two more HS pitcher draft picks -- Cease and Steele -- who got second or third round money), four excellent international signings in 2012-13 (Jorge Soler, Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, and Adbert Alzolay, plus four more -- Javier Assad and Isaac Paredes out of Mexico, Miguel Amaya out of Panama, and Christopher Morel out of the Dominican Republic -- in 2015, but very strangely not many international free agents of significance signed since then), astute trades that netted them Arrieta, Rizzo, Hendricks, Strop, and Russell long-term, and Montgomery, Edwards, Grimm, Montero, Chapman and W. Davis short term, selecting Hector Rondon in the Rule 5 Draft, and of course signing free agents like Lester, Zobrist, Heyward, Lackey, Hammel, and Ross. (There was also the 2017 TDL deal that netted the Cubs Jose Quintana at the cost of Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez and that did not help the Cubs win another pennant or World Series, which was along with the DJ LeMahieu trade to Colorado for 3B Ian Stewart right after they took over post-2011, and Isaac Paredes and Jeimer Candelario to the Tigers for spare parts LHRP Justin Wilson and C Alex Avila at the 2017 TDL, probably one of the three worst trades of the Epstein-Hoyer years, with honorable mention being the give away of young switch-hitting super utility man Marwin Gonzalez in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft at about the same time they traded LeMahieu).    

Essentially all the Cubs have to show at the MLB level right now from the last eight drafts (so far, and the clock is ticking) is Nico Hoerner. There are others -- Thomas Hatch (traded to TOR), Stephen Ridings (traded to KC), Michael Rucker (traded to PHI), Erich Uelmen (traded TO PHI), Zack Short (traded to DET), Brendon Little (traded to TOR), Cory Abbott (traded to SF), Jeremiah Estrada (claimed off waivers by SD), Jared Young (claimed off waivers by STL), Nelson Velazquez (traded to KC), Alex Lange (traded to DET), Scott Effross (traded to NYY), and Ryan Jensen (claimed off waivers by SEA) -- who have made it to MLB 40-man rosters, and Lange and Velazquez (and maybe Effross if he comes back 100% from TJS) are very good, but Lange, Velazquez, and Effross are no longer with the Cubs (the Cubs traded Lange for a short-term stretch drive rental of Nicholas Castellanos in 2019, Velazquez for Jose Cuas, and Effross for Hayden Wesneski).  

So the 2016-2019 Epstein-Hoyer Cub drafts (in general) weren't too impressive (certainly nowhere near as good as the 2013-15 drafts when they selected Bryant, Schwarber, Happ, Cease, and Steele), and it remains to be seen how the 2020-23 draft picks will ultimately turn out, although Jordan Wicks (2021 draft) did OK last year after he was called up and appears to be a legit MLB SP, and there is optimism that Code Horton, Matt Shaw, James Triantos, Luke Little, and Porter Hodge will be good, too. There are also two Cubs Top 10 prospects (finally!!!) among their more-recent International signings (Moises Ballesteros and Jefferson Rojas). 

Meanwhile, think about this:  

Half of the Cubs consensus top ten prospects right now were acquired via trade (PCA for Baez, Caissie for Darvish, Busch for Ferris/Hope, K. Alcantara for Rizzo, and B. Brown for Robertson, plus there are several others not among the Cubs Top 10 prospects who were acquired in trades like Palencia for Chafin, Canario for Bryant, and Horn for Tepera). Imagine where the Cubs farm system would be ranked right now without the trades that acquired those guys. Probably not too high. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Okay, so it's about the Director of Scouting. Let's hope Kantrovitz is Wilken-esque.
It would be nice to hit on a non-1st Rder every once in a while.
Steele & Cease. Old Samardzija. 
And I get my question completely dismissed the importance of IFAs, but that was on purpose.
I rant on and on about being a big market team that still produces in house talent.
We all know in house talent has little to do with your Luxury Tax outlook. Small market teams produce talent from the farm system and don't draft early in rounds.
It's about the scouting and development.
And then letting them play at the big league level for more than a month.

royals/witt jr sign an 11y/289m extension (wow).

the cubs have added Luke Bryan to their in-season concert schedule.

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

yeah, but does KC get a Luke Bryan concert at kauffman stadium?  checkmate KC.

once the cubs make stadium upgrades, i mean finalize purchases of property outside the park, i mean get their TV station set up, i mean adding the DraftKings building attached to Wrigley, i mean get a few more concerts like this then the cubs can really start spending!

altuve signs 5 year extension with HOU.  that's practically a team-for-life guy.

a couple days after the phillies were written about (and boras leveraged) as being sleepers for bellinger, upper management has told the press johan rojas will "likely" be their CF.

Recent comments

  • CTSteve (view)

    Baseball!

    Just stick it in my veins...

  • crunch (view)

    morel at 3rd, shaw at 2nd...wicks starting.

  • crunch (view)

    im gonna go ahead...without any evidence pointing to it...and predict bellinger returning to the cubs in 2 days on the 8 year anniversary of dexter fowler's surprise signing.

    ...and of course the cubs will go on to win the world series months later.

    ...and the cubs will finally sign brian roberts 3/44m

  • crunch (view)

    it looks like rich hill may not find a 2024 contract even though he wanted to pitch in 2024.

    being a guy turning 44 during spring training coming off a bad season isn't a good look if you don't have a contract by the time spring games start.

    he's played 19 seasons for 13 teams.  his 337.2ip for the cubs is his 2nd highest for any team (361.1ip for the dodgers).  he's the last man standing still playing out of the 2005 cubs crew.  geo soto last played in 2017.

  • crunch (view)

    SD fans are just trying to concentrate on yuki matsui right now.  the rest was terrible all-around.

    matsui K'd 3 with 12 pitches, 1 of them gavin lux.

  • Cubster (view)

    Pads gave up 14 runs using 11 pitchers. 3 pitchers gave up all 14 runs during their ***checks notes*** 0.1 IP. Yep, spring training.

    Only thing missing was a position player pitching.

  • crunch (view)

    boras is holding onto 4 "top level" FAs and ST games have officially begun.  montgomery, snell, chapman, and bellinger.

    there seems to be a bunch of teams not willing to blink, but there also seems to be a slew of teams willing to snap up any of these dudes if the price is right.

    at some point it may pivot to front-loaded deals with very early (and probably multiple) opt-outs.

    it's still "cubs advantage" on bellinger because there's a QO hanging over him and none of the teams with money are in heavy need of a CF or 1st.

  • crunch (view)

    ahhh...spring baseball.  put that shit right in my veins.  

    the dodgers are up 8-0 after 2 innings.  joe musgrove pitched to 4 batters and didn't retire any of them...all 4 scored.

    cubs tomorrow afternoon.

  • videographer (view)

    Here is an interesting thought about Boras's negotiation strategy:   Going into the off-season, Boras knew MLB GMs were not convinced of Bellinger's success enough to offer a long-term and large AVV contract.  His strategy was to convince the one team that experienced Bellinger's success that a market was there to take away a beloved player and make the Cubs bid against themselves.  So far, that has not worked and Boras has to scramble to not be embarrassed by a contract much lower than promised. 

    The question is:   What is a scenario in which Boras and Bellinger look good signing a bad contract?  Until that plays out, I suspect Bellinger could go into the season without being signed. 

  • crunch (view)

    it's pretty damn stupid.  don't they realize how much stadium-adjacent real estate they could buy for 77m?

    no one cares about baseball talent on the field, it's all about the baseball experience around the field!

    YOU HAVE TO 'C' IT (tm)