Good morning! Over the weekend I woke up from a nightmare in which the St. Louis Cardinals had traded for Giancarlo Stanton, signed Wade Davis and Jake Arrieta, and then proceeded to win the 2018 World Series. It was quite a scary dream, as you might imagine. Despite my efforts to calm down with warm milk and some Norah Jones tunes, I found myself a few shot nerves short of group therapy as I tried to make sense of just how scary this offseason could be.
I moved back to Chicago last year just in time for the greatest season in Cubs history. I live within shouting distance of Wrigley Field, in a neighborhood where many Cubs players live. In the two weeks since the Cubs lost the NLCS to the Dodgers, a pall has been cast across my neighborhood with many of my neighbors adamant that the Cubs make a bold statement this offseason in order to reestablish themselves as the juggernaut we expect — nay, demand — them to be.
Take a deep breath, fellow Lake View/Lincoln Parkers. Only one team has reached the League Championship Series in each of the last three seasons. Just one. In fact, over the last seven seasons, either the Cubs or the Cardinals have advanced to the NLCS. I fully expect the Cubs to make it four in a row next season.
But the Cardinals seem to be, well, loaded for bear as they plan to engage the Marlins in talks for Stanton and Christian Yelich. St. Louis has amassed a surplus of outfielders (subscription required for the entire article) that could intrigue Florida or any number of teams. Six of the Cardinals’ top 14 prospects are outfielders (and 11 of their top 20 are pitchers, for what it’s worth).
Could my nightmare scenario happen? Trading for Stanton would probably push the Cardinals past a line of salary comfortability, but it won’t put them into the luxury tax as their current commitment to 2018 salaries is in the neighborhood of $105M (excluding team options and arbitration raises). If Arrieta and Davis can truly be had at a combined AAV of $40M and the Cardinals can offset some salary in any trade for Stanton, welcome to Elm Street.
The smart money says none of this will happen. Personally, I see Davis choosing between staying in Chicago or trucking off to Houston. And my best guess on Arrieta would be that he ends up in Los Angeles or Texas. But Jon Heyman has the Cardinals in the running for both pitchers.
My Cubs Hot Stove Wish List
I’d like to see the Cubs sign Alex Cobb, and I think that will happen. Also on my wish list: Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, and Jake McGee. I hope they retain Brian Duensing as well.
That’s it. As I mentioned, this is a team that has gone to the NLCS three years running. If they decide to trade from the likes of Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Addison Russell, etc., the Cubs could get a cost-controlled SP or a shut-down closer.
Or they don’t have to trade anybody and can roll into 2018 with a rotation of Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Chatwood, and Cobb, with a bullpen that includes Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Justin Wilson, Duensing, McGee, and Morrow.
It keeps money in the coffers for a mid-season trade or a foray into the exciting 2018-19 free agency class.
But is that a championship team? Yes, I believe the Cubs are a championship team as is and I look forward to seeing the roster take shape over the next seven weeks.
Bruce Levine thinks Wade Davis could conceivably accept a qualifying offer from the Cubs. This year’s QO is set at $17.4M.
The Texas Rangers covet Alex Cobb.
The Dodgers saved $15M by saying goodbye to Andre Ether. Ethier might be a sensible signing for the White Sox on a one-year deal. It actually screams White Sox free agency signing.
Wei-Yin Chein didn’t do the Marlins new owners any favors by deciding to stay with Miami. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald calls Chen’s contract the “most regrettable signing in franchise history.” Ouch.
Tampa Rays closer Alex Colome may be in play this winter. If Davis goes elsewhere I am sure the Cubs will at least kick the tires on Colome.
Monday Walk Up Song
Check The Rhime by A Tribe Called Quest