Cubs: Big Things Still In Making At Winter Meetings

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We Are Regal Radio co-founder and former Los Angeles Dodger scouting personnel Sean Terry breaks down the off-season plans for the Cubs and White Sox in preparation for the 2016 season. Read his earlier posts on the Cubs and Sox here, here and here. This time around, Sean provides us with a report from the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Nashville’s Opryland Hotel and Convention is decorated to the nines – its current duel themes of Christmas and the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, which are being held there this week, make it easy to traverse its Grand Ole’ hallways and lobbies in a festive mood.

Gifts are coming early for Chicago Cubs fans again this season, as the North Siders are wheeling and dealing with the speed and fury of an impatient grade schooler who took 5-hour Energy throughout Christmas Eve. General Manager Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein’s work have already got the team a new starting second baseman and a reliable addition to the mid-to-back of the pitching rotation.

In an environment bustling with combinations of front office personnel, TV networks and their bright lights, fans and job seekers alike, Nashville is the place to be to get the latest scoop on all things baseball and I was blessed and crazy enough to get in the mix myself.

Along side all the rumor mongering on the ground here I’ve also had my attention caught by a few items online. This post is in response to this Fox Sports article on five remaining targets on the Cubs’ radar for the remainder of the Hot Stove season. Indeed, if you look at what’s buzzing around the team, these names are all coming up frequently.

Stay warm by keeping close to the Hot Stove, and keep current with all the Cubs and White Sox wheeling & dealing down in Nashville by checking in with WARR.com.

  1. Jason Heyward

So as it stands, Heyward wants a 10 year deal and his agent is most likely using Alex Rodriguez’s Texas Rangers deal (10 year/$250 Million) as the precedent for negotiations.

At last check before writing, the Cards have a 6yr/$177M on the table which means if the Cubs want do like Camp Lo and pull Another Heist, St. Louis style, they are going to have to do one of two things.

*Be in the ballpark of 28-29 million in annual average value and go seven to eight years.

*Give Heyward the full 10 years with less AAV (24-25M) while including a few desirable incentives like a no-trade clause for the first three to four years which guarantees he stays put in a hitter friendly park to amass numbers, and potentially include an early opt-out clause after five years which would allow him to cash in on those numbers as a ripe 30-31 year old free agent exactly at the time when baseball’s gets a new kick in TV money.

  1. Carlos Carrasco

As the price tag on starting pitching continues to sky-rocket, club control for starting pitching has become the name of the game and an obvious shift in club philosophy.

Carrasco fits the mold here being only 28 and signed thru 2018, he also fits the mold of a pitcher who is set to ball out this year – two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery, something that I’m sure the Cubs would consider with a scrutinous eye.

The prevailing trend for guys recovering from Tommy John surgery is that if handled delicately during a moderate 24-36 month recovery, by season three post-surgery they should be ready to go a full clip. The Indians have done a good job controlling his innings load since 2013, allowing Carrasco to slowly and progressively ramp up the intensity of his workload (2014 – 134 innings pitched, 2015 – 183 IP) respectively.

With an ERA right at or under 3.00 during those recovery years while pitching in the AL, it’s obvious Carrasco hasn’t lost anything stuff-wise (just check last year’s strikeout to walk ratio in 2015: an eye popping 216 K to 43 BB), he should be good to go for 200 IP in 2016 and would be beneficiary of a natural advantage pitching in the NL.

I would expect the Cubs evaluation of Carrasco’s health to follow a similar path as that of the newly signed starter John Lackey, who ironically enough is also three years removed from Tommy John surgery and proved himself fully recovered in 2015.

  1. Danny Salazar

Another beneficiary of an Indians club that handles young pitching with caution. Salazar has been progressed slowly, notching 10 and 20 starts in 2013 and 2014 respectively before being relatively unleashed with 30 starts and 185 IP last season.

Salazar has some pretty impressive stuff that borderlines filthy at times, and despite his age (25) has proven himself able to finesse pitch with command when necessary as evidenced by last year’s K/BB ratio — 195 K to 53 BB. This latter fact bode highly promising for his long term durability.

Salzar’s name was on a lot of team’s wish list last year in trade scenario’s but the Indians are not in any hurry to take on salary, which means a trade for an ace in the making to the Cubs would require a large combination of current big leaguers under club control and/or top prospects: think Javier Baez, Carl Edwards Jr., Dan Vogglebach and possibly Albert Almora.

  1. Kevin Gausman

Intriguing possibility here…Gausman has a similar by-line as this year’s Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta, another former Orioles first-rounder who for a time hadn’t lived up to expectations.

For all we know, the Cubs scouts could have been eying this dude at the same time as Arrieta. Gausman dabbled as a swing guy last year, spending time as a starter and out the pen, so who knows what type of role the Cubs would envision for him.

The good news is that at just 24, Gausman wouldn’t become arbitration eligible until 2017 and doesn’t become a free agent until 2021.

The required haul it would take to land Gasuman pretty much depends on how high the Cubs scouts, along with the rest of baseball, projects his ceiling to be.

Well how about….

  1. Tyson Ross

A name linked to the Cubs during trade deadline negotiations last year. If one thing is certain about this new Cubs philosophy, they believe in a comprehensive and methodical approach when it comes to wheeling and dealing, something the Castro deal clearly revealed to us, as the Cubs front office was able to revisit their pre-standing Starlin Castro conversations with the Yankees from a position of leverage.

Last year, when Castro was struggling and before the Cubs moved Castro from short, the Yankees kicked the tires on a deal with Cubs with their scouting department noting the potential upside for Castro, acknowledging his fielding ability and side arm slot as a tell-tale sign he was a player who’d thrive at second base.

Two months later, the Cubs decided not to trade Castro but instead made a position switch and wound up benefitting from Castro’s ability to thrive at second base in a playoff push. This switch, a glorified audition for the Yanks, gave them the necessary sample size to increase their confidence in Castro.

More importantly, when negotiations between the two team resumed a few days ago, it allowed the Cubs to up their asking price in return for Castro and stands as a primary reason they were able to land stud pitcher in the making, Adam Warren.

Could a revisit to a trade scenario with San Diego and Tyson Ross exist? Very possibly, as the Cubs and Padres are no strangers to doing recent business (see Jed Hoyer,  see Anthony Rizzo).

The Padres’ asking price for Ross is young hitting, and San Diego is exactly the type of mild-weather environment a young hitter like Jorge Soler could most certainly thrive in.

Behind the scenes, the Cubs front office is rumored to have lost confidence in Soler’s abiltiy to produce when it matters most given his disparity to cold weather playing conditions, obviously a red flag for a team expecting to play baseball in Chicago in October.

Summary

The fan in me would love any of these guys in a Cubs uniform, but the baseball analyst in me says given the rumblings and the science of economics involved, a combination of Nos. 1 and 5 on this list would be the biggest land and best land.

Pulling Hayward and Ross would also be the type of multi-domino, one move begets the other move progression  that the Cubs front office has frequently alluded to as being in its plans.

Movement involving a trade of Soler (plus a few throw ins) in exchange for Ross would allow the Cubs to fortify the pitching rotation with affordable pitching and open the door for them to exhaust the bulk of remaining resources to acquire Heyward to play either right  or center field.

Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; Sean Terry is a co-founder of We Are Regal Radio and host of WARR’s The Varsity Show

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One response to “Cubs: Big Things Still In Making At Winter Meetings

  1. Pingback: 10 @ 10: Chicago Protests Everything But Heyward Signing On The D & Davis Show | WARR - We Are Regal Radio·

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