The Rundown: Mike’s Back, Top 50 Free Agents, Friday’s Transactions

Hi, it’s Mike Canter. I’m back writing the Rundown for Cubs Insider and happy to do so. Since we last talked I’m a little older (I wear bifocals now), the kids are in college, I still strongly believe in the Oxford Comma, and I still despise the word “albeit.” I also prefer PBR and Spotted Cow to any craft beer on the planet. 

occasionally tweet, though not as often as 45. I am planning on Monday through Saturday posts going forward, and thank you, Evan, for this opportunity. My Sundays require a 216-mile round trip to take my father-in-law to church, so I’ll leave Sunday’s baseball notes in the capable hands of our EIC.

In between my last column for Cubs Insider and this one, the Cubs spent a year as champions of Major League Baseball, a nice change from 108 years of simply being the champions of our hearts.

Disappointingly, they’re not champions anymore, which may be why the Theo-for-President campaigns have stopped (though you can pledge your allegiance with one of these shirts). The Cubs have plenty of work to do this offseason and there is no time like the present to get into it.

A brief look at MLBTR top 50 free agents

The hot stove traditionally kicks off with an annual ranking of the Top 50 Free Agents by MLB Trade Rumors and they even offer staff predictions. If I’m being honest, I pumped the brakes pretty hard at the number one name on the list, SP Yu Darvish, who MLBTR predicts will sign with the Cubs on a 6/$160M deal. Evan has a more in-depth look at the list and this particular prediction but let me add my two cents here.

Having a little more than $50M in offseason play money means the Cubs can certainly afford this type of contract, but I question why they would want to. They have a very formidable font three of Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks. Darvish seems like an unneeded luxury at that price and length of contract. Additionally, MLBTR has Jake Arrieta signing with the *gasp* Milwaukee Brewers for 4/$100M and Masahiro Tanaka, who is two years younger than Darvish, signing with the Phillies (why would he?) for 5/$100M.

That last one went up in flames pretty quickly when Tanaka opted back into the final three years of his Yankees deal.

If the Cubs are going to spend the bulk of their cap on a fourth top-of-rotation starter, my guess is they’d rather pay $1.67M less in AAV on a four-year contract with Arrieta. All things being equal, if the Cubs do offer the former Cy Young something in the range of whatever Milwaukee (or any other team) may offer him, I’m sure the Cubs hot stove season would start with an Epstein/Hoyer/Arrieta presser. I don’t think that will happen.

Other interesting observations from the MLBTR post include:

Wade Davis to Houston, 4/$60M – I agree with the team but I think Davis will get a higher AAV. Ken Giles looked ghastly in the World Series, but I’d welcome him to the Cubs if there was an opportunity to buy low, though it’s unlikely Houston would move him.

Addison Reed to the Cubs, 4/$36M – Please, dear God, no. MLBTR has hypothetically blown 70 percent of Epstein’s stash on two players who make the Cubs less than one full win better than they were last year based on the players they would be replacing. Oh, and they still would not have a lights-out closer. Not very Theo-ish.

Mike Minor to the Dodgers, 4/$28M – Can he close? I believe he can. This seems like a good fit for the Cubs at this price. Minor is entering his age-30 season and he may take a shorter-term deal if he is guaranteed significant end-of-game opportunities.

Andrew Cashner to Oakland, 2/$20M – A lot of Cubs fans want Cash back. I am not one of them. If I’m looking for a starter with 4.6 K/9, I could sign any number of pitchers to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

Brandon Morrow to the Rockies, 3/$24M – I’d like this even more than Minor if the Cubs could get him. Morrow is at the top of my personal wish list and I feel very comfortable letting him close out 45-50 Cubs victories next season.

Jake McGee to the Cubs, 3/$18M – I’d prefer a two-year deal, but I do like this prediction.

I think the Cubs offseason will break differently from what we see in that MLBTR bit. We know a trade or two is coming because Epstein is transparent and when he said he may have to trade from the excess that comprises the major league roster, I think he meant it. Brendan Miller put together a great breakdown of all the options earlier this week.

Most teams are looking to go eight deep in starting pitching organizationally and the Cubs are no exception. With up to five rotational holes to fill — depending on how you view Mike Montgomery next season — and pressing bullpen needs, dropping a six-year, nine-figure contract on a starting pitcher feels wasteful.

Friday stove

The Cubs claimed RP Randy Rosario from the Minnesota Twins on Friday. Quick prediction: I believe he will serve as a temporary placeholder on the 40-man and will likely start the season with another organization. 

Ki Wo Tsukete Suzuki: Florida Marlins non-tender Ichiro.

Ryan Davis provides an early look at next season’s potential Cy Young candidates. I’d add Kyle Hendricks as a dark horse.

I personally abhor the Los Angeles Dodgers and I am glad they lost to Houston. I am not alone in this sentiment. So not alone. Brandon McCarthy is a fun follow, though.

Mike Minor declined his mutual option and elected free agency.

The Cleveland Indians exercised team options on Michael Brantley and Josh Tomlin.

The Baltimore Orioles declined options on J.J. Hardy and Wade Miley.

Matt Wieters is going to stay in Washington, which probably doesn’t give Nats fans the warm fuzzies.

100 days until pitchers and catchers report. That actually doesn’t seem too bad.

Hot Stove Key Dates: 

GM Meeting in Orlando, FL November 13-16
Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL December 10-14.

Friday’s Walk-Up Song

Everyday People by Sly & The Family Stone

I’m glad to be back. I missed you all.

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