Let’s repeat what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have reiterated countless times since the end of the season. The front office is focused on adding pitching to the roster this winter. The Cubs would like to acquire multiple starting pitchers and add depth, both for the Major League staff and at other levels in the system.
The Cubs are expected to spend money on the free agent market and likely trade from the position player depth to pry a controllable young starter from another organization.
It has been a foregone conclusion the Cubs would pay the really big bucks and sign David Price. And if things did not work out with Price, the front office would shift to Zack Greinke and get him to leave the West Coast for the Midwest.
The Cubs are not limiting themselves to the top of the free agent pitching market. And Jon Paul Morosi is no longer convinced Price will sign with the Cubs despite the fact they are viewed as the favorites for Price throughout the industry.
The Cubs really like Jordan Zimmermann and it appears a Jeff Samardzija reunion is growing more likely by the day. If the Cubs are able to sign Zimmermann or Samardzija either starter would slid in behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the rotation where David Price or Zack Greinke would likely begin the season as the No. 2 starter in Joe Maddon’s rotation.
The Cubs are doing their homework on the pitchers that are available. Jed Hoyer said there were pretty serious trade discussions with 12-15 teams during the GM Meetings. And Ken Rosenthal reported Friday the Cubs are doing background work on about a dozen starting pitchers the team could acquire through trades.
The Cubs have the prospect currency to make any deal with any team, plus it’s believed there is enough payroll flexibility in which to sign one of the top free agent starters on the market. The front office have the means to acquire pitching. They have to make the best decisions for the organization moving forward in order to put the Cubs in the best position possible to win the NL Central crown next season and return to the playoffs.
Here is the list of pitchers, free agents and trade possibilities, the Cubs have been connected to and what it might cost the front office to add him to the team this winter.
Free Agent Pitchers
- LHP David Price (seven years, $213.5 million)
- RHP Zack Greinke (six years, $186 million)
- RHP Jordan Zimmermann (six years, $120 million)
- RHP Jeff Samardzija (four years, $62 million)
- RHP John Lackey (two years, $30 million)
- LHP Wei-Yin Chen (four years, $56 million)
- LHP J.A. Happ (two years, $20 million)
All but David Price and J.A. Happ received qualifying offers and are attached to draft pick compensation.
It’s really difficult to see a scenario in which the front office signs two pitchers tied to draft pick compensation and forfeit not only the first round pick but also the compensation pick the Cubs would receive when Dexter Fowler signs with another team. That pick is not protected. While the Cubs can still draft quality players without those first two picks, not having the slot money would really handcuff the front office’s ability to add talent to the organization.
Possible Trade Targets
- RHP Tyson Ross (Padres)
- RHP Carlos Carrasco (Indians)
- RHP Danny Salazar (Indians)
- RHP Julio Teheran (Braves)
- RHP Shelby Miller (Braves)
- RHP Andrew Cashner (Padres)
The Cubs have not been directly linked to the Mets this off-season. Conversations between the two teams have taken place in the past involving the Cubs’ young position players and the Mets’ young arms. How those two teams could matchup on a deal and which players could be involved in discussions are unclear at this point.
There are three players consistently brought up the Cubs would likely have to part with in order to acquire pitching through a trade. Jorge Soler is believed to be coveted by the Indians and Braves. And the Padres have shown interest in Starlin Castro and Javier Baez in the past.
If the front office is able to make a deal for a one of the young arms they’ve been linked to, it is very likely the Cubs would have to include a pitcher in the trade.
Jed Hoyer is expecting an active off-season with a lot of trades throughout the game. And from all indications, the Cubs are in the middle of several of the discussions.