As we continue to plumb the depths for fresh content in a stagnant offseason, even seemingly innocuous trivia about Brian Duensing’s other offers makes for worthwhile fodder. When the lefty agreed to re-sign with the Cubs for two years and $7 million, it was reported that he had turned down at least one larger deal to do so. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser revealed Saturday, the A’s had actually offered Duensing quite a bit more.
Slusser reported that Oakland was willing to go to $10 million, though she didn’t specify whether it was over the same two-year period. In all likelihood, it was a three-year pact, though that would’ve been even more desirable on paper than what the southpaw reliever ended up taking. Getting nearly the same AAV for an additional year is always a good thing, and it’s that much better for a guy who’ll turn 35 in February.
Okay, cool, but is this really significant beyond being another feather with which Cubs fans can decorate their caps? Well, yeah, I think so. It is, after all, yet another example of a player taking significantly less money to join — or rejoin, in this case — a team that is experiencing an unprecedented run of success while playing in one of the most storied environments in the game.
As such, we can take this beyond the idea of bragging rights or personal pride in your favorite team and cite this as another example of what has become a pretty obvious trend. Money will always be king, but fit and and feel still matter quite a bit. That’s why we’ve seen Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and Duensing take less guaranteed money in exchange for an opportunity to play with the Cubs.
Could we see the same with Yu Darvish?
The ability to offset a few million dollars here and there with intrinsic benefits may factor into the starter’s final decision, though he’s not likely to take anything close to the 30 percent discount we saw with Duensing. You know Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will pitch the hell out of being a part of a winner in Chicago, or even just being in the city during the summer. There are few better places on the planet than Wrigley Field on a sunny afternoon, whether you’re a fan or a ballplayer.
You can add Chris Gimenez to that pitch mix as well. Not that Darvish will make a decision based solely on a backup catcher who may or may not be paired with him frequently, but the Cubs knew it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a recruiter.
Regardless of what happens with Darvish or Jake Arrieta or Alex Cobb, it’s pretty cool to know that the Cubs have become a destination team for free agents. They’ve come a long way from the days of overpaying for Edwin Jackson after whiffing on Anibal Sanchez, huh?
Man, it doesn’t even feel like this is the same team, which is probably because it really isn’t the same team. It’s hardly even the same organization. So while a middling lefty reliever opting to sign for a little less money might not seem like a big deal, it’s another clear illustration of the seismic shift in both culture and success engineered by the Epstoyer regime.