The annual MLB Trade Rumors top 50 free agent predictions are up, and their staff has the Cubs signing just two players from the list. According to their guesses, Andrew McCutchen will be joining the Cubs on a three-year $45 million deal; MLBTR also has the team re-signing reliever Jesse Chavez for two seasons and $10 million.
Other notable signings include Craig Kimbrel and Josh Donaldson to the Cardinals; Daniel Murphy to the Angels; and Mike Moustakas going back to the Royals. If I’m being completely forthright, I have to say that this free agent class doesn’t look as strong as it did last year at this time and the 2019-20 class actually looks a lot more fun, if not surprisingly better.
You can get all the offseason facts and predictions by perusing MLBTR, and I’ll do a daily synopsis of one free agent as the Hot Stove season progresses.
Free Agent Profile: Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper to the Cubs has seemed like an inevitability since at least the end of the 2017 season. The problem is that he doesn’t come cheaply. Based on predictions from the MLBTR staff, Harper will command a lot of cheddar and it’s going to take a front office willing to risk it for the biscuit to sign him. Put simply, is the all-star right fielder worth $30 million right now and will he be worth that much when he is going into his age 41 season?
And look, things are completely out of focus right now, and I doubt that GM Meetings that start Tuesday will offer any kind of conclusive evidence as to where Harper wants to play and who will sign him. So expect the rumor mill to churn and expect Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, to try to get as many teams as possible interested in signing the outfielder.
What are you getting for potentially $400 million plus? The best of his seven seasons for the Nationals was 2015, when Harper was a 10 WAR player (9.1 offensively, btw) who hit .330 with a career-high 42 home runs. He was selected NL MVP as a 22-year-old while posting an 1.109 OPS and a wRC+ of 197. No other player has posted a single-season OPS of 1.100 in the 2010’s.
The downside of that, however, is hardly a $30 million AAV player. Despite a second-half surge in 2018 that saw him finish with 34 home runs and 100 runs batted in, Harper entered July batting just .220. He led the majors with 130 walks, but finished the year as a 3.5 WAR player. Unbelievably, last season was the first time he reached the century mark in RBI in seven seasons.
The Yankees say they’re out on Harper. The Nationals went over the luxury tax cap this season so I’d surmise they’re out as well. That leaves the Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, and Giants as the likeliest destinations. There will be a mystery team, which is likely to be the Braves or Astros. I still think he ends up in Chicago.
Tomorrow: Manny Machado
Cubs News & Notes
- This may be the dumbest trade suggestion I’ve ever read but I do think Joe Maddon could end up with the Dodgers one day if a) he isn’t extended by the Cubs at some point this year or b) he doesn’t opt to retire after this season.
- Anthony Rizzo won his second career Gold Glove Award, but Javier Báez was criminally excluded, losing to DJ LeMahieu. Jason Heyward lost out to Nick Markakis. Here’s the complete listing:
Gold Gloves were handed out tonight. Yadi won No. 9. The #RedSox got three.
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) November 5, 2018
- A path for Addison Russell to return to the team remains open. Of course it does, I don’t think the front office can say anything but that at this time. The Cubs don’t have to formally decide whether or not to offer Russell a contract until Nov. 30 and he won’t be eligible to play in the big leagues before May 2019. I still believe he has played his last game in a Cubs uniform.
- The Cubs have yet to receive the PTBNL in the Drew Smyly trade and Jeff Burdick believes that the return may be an indicator of the direction the Cubs will take this winter.
- Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune thinks the Cubs are going to be one of the more aggressive teams this winter.
- Two years ago the Cubs ended their 108-year championship drought by beating the Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. NBC recaps that night with contributions from their entire production team.
- Can you name the last 20 HR/20 SB player for the Cubs before Báez?
- Could the Giants be interested in Kyle Schwarber?
The Cubs aren’t going to need Kyle Schwarber once they sign Bryce Harper, and amazingly, the Giants have someone Chicago would want. https://t.co/FaOSeb4OXL
— McCovey Chronicles (@McCoveyChron) October 31, 2018
Scott Boras said his research showed players who had on-base percentages of .400 or better from the ages of 22 to 25, as Harper did, had an average on-base percentage of .383 as a 40-year-old.
The Cardinals plan to “explore the market” for Harper. Of course they do. That’s so cute. I went to the candy store with a pocket full of pennies once when I was a kid, too.
Harper graces the cover of PlayStation’s MLB The Show 2019, which launches on March 29. He is not representing a team in the cover photo. Once he signs somewhere, you can expect Sony to update the cover art, but for now it is just Harper in a hoodie, looking a lot like he’s auditioning for the Kardashians.
The Phillies may go all in for both Harper and Machado, but they may be better suited to proceed with caution.
I am going to be blogging about music again on a regular basis. I always need a passion project, and this time I am going to attempt to rebuild a massive vinyl collection I lost in 2005. I hope you’ll read along once you’ve had your daily fill of Cubs Insider.
Slow news day NHL?
What if MLB teams played hockey instead? pic.twitter.com/uuPHeRv3zF
— Heart of NHL (@HeartofNHL) November 4, 2018
Just a Reminder
“In order to move to Playoffville you have to pay the property tax.” – Scott Boras
Monday Walk Up Song
Couldn’t Get it Right by The Climax Blues Band. Of record collections and free agent predictions…