Well the off-season is officially under way as Jordan Zimmermann and David Price both locked up long-term, high-dollar contracts with the Tigers and Red Sox, respectively. While many had Chicago pegged as Price’s destination, the Red Sox made sure they got their man by blowing all other clubs away with their offer of $217 million over seven years and most likely overpaying in the process. But, that is what you do when your club lacks a clear #1 starter and ended last year in the basement of a highly competitive division; two problems which the Cubs do not have.
Their fall back, Zimmermann, was essentially the first of the tier-1 free agents off the board with his deal becoming of a pitcher with a 3.32 ERA over the last seven seasons and who has been a top-ten pitcher in N.L. over that time. So the Cubs missed out, or rather chose not to throw gobs of money at these two free agents who would certainly have been welcome additions to an already promising club. That’s OK. The Cubs didn’t need to over pay and tie up money that could be used elsewhere; cash that can be applied a bit more thoughtfully to help flesh out next year’s team. There is more than one way to go about acquiring starting pitching and a new center fielder. There will still be free agent acquisitions but now trades have also become a possibility as well. The Padres’ Tyson Ross and Atlanta’s Shelby Miller come to mind as two young pitchers who would be worth exploring as options.
So where do the Cubs go from here?
A lot of signs point to the Cubs going hard after Cardinals free agent right fielder, Jason Heyward. He’s only 26 and while he would command a hefty price tag, wouldn’t you rather spend big on an excellent, YOUNG, defensive outfielder with a pretty good bat than a pitcher on the wrong side of 30? I am all for this, someone to get on base ahead of the nuclear power behind him in Bryant, Rizzo, Schwarber etc. Spending on Heyward may mean picking up a few cheaper options as back end starters but isn’t that what the Cubs need anyways? We have our top two in Arrieta and Lester, it’s the depth that needs help. Acquiring a guy like John lackey makes a ton of sense on a good deal, and the same goes for Jeff Samardzija, although from the sound of things, he thinks he won’t be all that cheap.
There is still a lot action left; moves to be made, dominoes to fall, but my estimation is that losing out on Price and Zimmerman may be a blessing in disguise. They didn’t go to division rivals or even stay in the same league and the Cubs didn’t break the bank and hamstring themselves. Money will be at a premium in coming years as our young talent grows and it is imperative to continue making the smart moves, rather than the flashy ones. Now, the Cubs can spend some of that money on pieces that make more sense and hopefully enable us to keep some of the depth and redundancy we have in our infield.
Stay Tuned…The trickle of moves could become a stream in the next few weeks.
Let’s Go Cubs!