Whether Cubs Are Targeting Cobb or Darvish, Arrieta’s the Consensus Long Shot

You know how people resort to chit-chatting about the weather when they don’t really have anything else to talk about? That’s super lame and I’d never stoop so low as to do such a thing in my lede. Which is why I’m not going to make some silly metaphor about how the free agent market feels like it’s going to heat up, only to freeze over once again. You know, like the weather.

And I’m definitely not going to lament all the cases of Yu Flu going around as varying reports have people feeling sick of speculation. No, all I really want to do here is briefly review a pair of contrasting thoughts on who the Cubs are targeting and what they both say about who’s not going to be pitching in Chicago.

Bruce Levine wrote Monday afternoon that Alex Cobb “remains the most likely addition for the Cubs,” citing a smaller financial commitment and familiarity with the coaching staff. An AP report that the Cubs were in “active talks” with Yu Darvish came out not long after Levine’s column was published, but that may actually back up his point.

Since the Cubs are notoriously stingy with the information that leaks regarding their goings-on, it’s possible the news of renewed interest in Darvish was meant to turn the screws on Cobb. Or maybe we can take the update at face value.

Patrick Mooney has been somewhat prolific in his new role over at The Athletic, and he stated in his latest piece (subscription required/recommended) that “negotiations have recently picked up momentum” with the Cubs “trying to land the star Japanese pitcher.” He adds that some possible mystery teams may be entering the mix and that a fallback like Cobb remains an option.

There’s also the matter of Chris Gimenez, who Mooney says “doesn’t hurt the Cubs’ chances” of landing Darvish. We said as much here at CI soon after the Cubs had agreed to bring the backup catcher to the organization on a minor-league deal, but further validation is always nice.

Whether you lean toward the conclusions of one beat writer or the other, the one thing they’ve got in common is that both believe Jake Arrieta isn’t likely to be coming back. Levine points to the length of the former Cy Young winner’s contract demands, though Darvish is surely seeking close to the same. So when Mooney says Arrieta’s return is a long shot, we can surmise that the Cubs have simply prioritized Darvish that much more.

If they’re going to spend big, it’s going to be on the former Ranger. And if they miss on him, they’ll pivot to Cobb. The Cubs aren’t really worried about the risk in such a scenario because they know Cobb is resigned to the realities of the market and is willing to wait for the top guys to sign first. What’s more, the Cubs are already pretty happy with their in-house options even if they don’t add another starter.

But they know that Darvish is the pitcher who would really shore up the rotation for a playoff run, which is why they’ve focused on him over the last month. We may not see any immediate movement on the matter, what with a good chunk of team leadership in the Dominican Tuesday, though you might want to keep an eye on the message boards.

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