So, here’s the thing: David Price is awesome and I’d have loved to watch Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer help him don a pinstriped jersey. But that’s one of those dreams that’s really cool until you wake up and realize that it would’ve cost $217 million over seven years to make it happen. That is some mad fat cheddar, yo, and I’m lactose intolerant. I mean, not in real life, but I wanted to further the cheese analogy and…well, you get it.
A far worse outcome, at least from the Cubs’ perspective, would have been the Cardinals winning the Showcase Showdown and having David Price right there in the Central for years to come. Yay for moral victories then, I guess. I really do think this is good for the Cubs though. Now they won’t have to face Price until the World Series, at which point the postseason kryptonite will have eroded his considerable skills and made him quite beatable. There’s also the matter of not having to pay someone nearly a dollar per second (98.3 cents, actually) for the next 220,752,000 seconds, give or take a leap year or two.
Should the Cubs spend a few billion of the pennies they pinched with Price on Jason Heyward then? His youth and defensive prowess certainly make him a pretty good investment, but I’m just not sure the Cubs want to put up the seed money knowing that they’re likely going to have to buy in for a 10-year deal. I wrote as much recently when I wondered whether the Cubs might not just see Alex Gordon as a better value.
I suppose it sounds a bit like I’m trying to advocate against spending any money, but I do want to re-hang the frame of reference many posters seem to be using lately. There seems to be this pervasive idea that the Cubs now have to start throwing cash on the fire to keep it burning after this past season got it lit. Thing is, money burns hot and fast and typically requires you to keep shoveling more on the pile. To wit, only five teams among the top 15 payrolls in baseball made the playoffs in 2015. That means five more, including the world champs, came from the bottom half totem pole.
But just as it’s fallacy to believe the Cubs have to spend big, it’s neither judicious nor realistic to think they can repeat their recent success without adding to the bottom line. Where does that leave them then? Well, with estimates ranging from $20-30 million in wiggle room, I’m thinking a pair of upper-mid-level signings are in order. There’s been a lot of chatter involving Jeff Samardzija, with the latest coming from Buster Olney.
As FA process moves along, Jeff Samardzija gaining increased notice because teams are confident about this:Less mileage than other starters.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 1, 2015
I guess that’s something, but this isn’t exactly a new concept. In fact, it’s very much an old thing and seems oddly timed. It’s as though someone’s pumping Buster to remind folks of the fact that Shark’s still got some tread on the tires. But are teams willing to overlook a disastrous 2015 with the White Sox just because the guy doesn’t have as many innings on his arm? I don’t care what the odometer says, a lemon is a lemon. Now, it’s entirely possible that all Samardzija needs is a tune-up at the hands of master mechanic Chris Bosio to get him back in order. If that’s the case, I’d be okay with giving him $16 million per over the next four years or so.
Beyond the former Cub, you’ve got John Lackey, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, and more still hanging around. Once Zack Greinke — who I never saw as a real target for the Cubs — signs, we’ll have even more clarity as to the market and what the Cubs plan to do in it. It’s looking less and less likely that they’ll be making any really big splashes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t improve their team in a big way. Keep in mind that that improvement could come via trade too.
Jorge Soler’s name has been mentioned over and over since the end of the season, with the Braves now apparently showing interest in the big Cuban. I like Soler’s potential, I really do, but I think I’m in the minority when it comes to my harboring a great deal of skepticism about him ever reaching it. Yes, it would suck to see Soler go on to mash for another team for the next few years, but would that be worse than seeing him struggle with health and consistency while the Cubs try to fill out their rotation? I don’t know, maybe it would.
Miller is only 25 and won’t be a free agent until 2019, so there’s a lot to like there. Others don’t seem all that high on the righty, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him in Chicago. As for Teheran though, that’s a hard pass for me, unless the Braves sweeten the heck out of the deal.
The Cubs are going to make moves one way or the other, that’s for sure. And now that the really big moves are being crossed off the list, I’m getting a little antsy in the pantsies to see where Epstoyer goes from here.