Chicago Cubs 2019 Season

#1
With the World Series over, it might be time for a new thread!

As we all know, the Cubs were overtaken in the NL Central during the final stretch (and an eventual 163rd game) of the 2018 season by a scorching hot Brewers team, followed by an early exit against the Rockies in the Wild Card game. Despite this, their 95 wins equated to the 13th best finish in franchise history.

This offseason appears to be one of the deepest free agent classes in years, and the Cubs will likely be big spenders.

Who are some of your hopeful free agent signings for the Cubs? Without and specific (and big) names in mind, I'm hoping for a defensive-minded backup catcher and a power arm or two out of the bullpen. Starting pitching depth is always on the forefront of my wish list as well.

Pitchers and catchers report in February!



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#2
Houston, Texas
Definitely power arms in the ‘pen and starting pitching depth, I agree with those. Will be interesting to see how the hitters respond to the new coach.

Not holding my breath on any of the big name free agent hitters.
 
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#4
Doubt we get Machado, Harper is still a real possibility. He's going to hamstring the org if he does sign though, might push 40-50m a year. Saw something that the Cubs already have the highest 2019 payroll.

I think the smartest moves for the Cubs would be to 1) get a couple bullpen guys 2) spend a decent chunk of change on a catcher (Contreras caught an insane amount) 3) Hope Darvish can be a solid 3/4 starter, Heyward hovers around what he did in 2018, and the rest of the staff doesn't start to show signs of regression. Honestly, the only piece I really see missing from this team is a catcher. We have the pen arms, but bolstering is never bad, especially if you want to go deep in the offseason. I'm pretty high on the rotation still (and Darvish) and I think a healthier lineup helps a ton.
 
#5
aka "Captain Oblivious"
Cynthiana, Kentucky
I would really prefer not to make the huge signing in Harper or Machado. Spend the big money on pitching.
Backup catcher is also needed. Think we could sign Wilson Ramos?
 
#6
Backup catcher is also needed. Think we could sign Wilson Ramos?
I think Ramos might be out of their price range and looking for a starting spot. There are a lot of interesting free agent catchers on the market though. I could see someone like Kurt Suzuki.

Overall, I could honestly see Theo & Co go a lot of different directions. They could easily stand pat, bring a couple hole-filling free agents and call it a day. That would be the easy/cheap/safe thing to do.

I could also see them making their first real big trade to break up the young core. We know from the 2004 Nomar trade that Theo’s not afraid to trade “sacred cows” and we know from the Carl Crawford/Adrian Gonzalez trade that he’s not afraid to cut bait when something he tries doesn’t work out. This year could be the biggest shuffling of the roster since he first got here, and I would bet that the only truly safe player is Kris Bryant.

Reading between the lines of some of his post season comments immediately after the Wild Card game, leads me to believe he might be more inclined to follow the latter path, thinking that some people on the team are complacent. But he’s been quiet since then, and was obviously emotional after the loss, and may have re-evaluated after calming down.

I think we will see a couple trades, but not necessarily huge, roster-transforming trades. Might send out a youngster and a big contract for a lottery ticket starting pitcher. But not much else.

I also think that the Cubs are going to not just go over the luxury tax but go over in a really big way. I think they’ll go all-in on Harper and also probably one of the big name relievers.
 
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#8
Houston, Texas
Uh, since some of you are apparently lukewarm on Harper, I'll gladly take the role of Bryce Harper stan for this thread.
I like him, just don’t see how they can afford him at 35M per, especially if they pick up Hamels’ option.
 
#9
I like him, just don’t see how they can afford him at 35M per, especially if they pick up Hamels’ option.
They can afford him fine.

There is no salary cap. There’s a luxury tax. The only question is weather the Cubs are willing to go over the tax threshold to sign him.

Everything I’ve heard and read says that the Cubs’ ownership and front office are willing to go over the tax for the right player(s) and Harper is definitely the type of player that Theo and co likes.
 
#11
Houston, Texas
They can afford him fine.

There is no salary cap. There’s a luxury tax. The only question is weather the Cubs are willing to go over the tax threshold to sign him.

Everything I’ve heard and read says that the Cubs’ ownership and front office are willing to go over the tax for the right player(s) and Harper is definitely the type of player that Theo and co likes.
Where have you seen that?
 
#12
Where have you seen that?
Googling "Cubs luxury tax" will pop up several articles.

Basically, a lot of people think the Cubs stayed under and the Dodgers/Yankees dipped back under this year to minimize the penalty for going over next year. Only the Red Sox and Nats were on track to hit the luxury tax this year. I don't think Boston cares and the Nationals would probably go over again to retain Harper. So there are still probably at least 5 big spending teams eyeing Harper/Machado.

The threshold also takes a big jump this year. Usually it just goes up 2 or 3 million, but it bumps up 9 million this year.
 
#13
Houston, Texas
Googling "Cubs luxury tax" will pop up several articles.

Basically, a lot of people think the Cubs stayed under and the Dodgers/Yankees dipped back under this year to minimize the penalty for going over next year. Only the Red Sox and Nats were on track to hit the luxury tax this year. I don't think Boston cares and the Nationals would probably go over again to retain Harper. So there are still probably at least 5 big spending teams eyeing Harper/Machado.

The threshold also takes a big jump this year. Usually it just goes up 2 or 3 million, but it bumps up 9 million this year.
Ok, so it's just the talking heads that are predicting the Cubs will go way over the LT and nothing anyone in the org is saying? Got it.
 
#16
Ok, so it's just the talking heads that are predicting the Cubs will go way over the LT and nothing anyone in the org is saying? Got it.
It's almost impossible for them not to go over in 2019, if all they do is pick up Hamels option they will be at ~$225MM including arbitration raises. First tax threshold is $206MM and the harsher penalties start at $226MM.

So, it's almost guaranteed the Cubs go over this year. The real question is, will they do a Machado or Harper (probably ~$40MM/yr.) deal that almost assuredly puts them over for the next 3 years (plus) with no option to reset.

The only team that has done that has done the 3+ years over is Boston. Even the other big boys (LA & NYY) planned in their reset.

I really don't think they'll do a Machado or Harper deal. The pitching is really the easiest way to upgrade the team anyway, and it's slightly cheaper (in years at least).
 
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#17
Houston, Texas
It's almost impossible for them not to go over in 2019, if all they do is pick up Hamels option they will be at ~$225MM including arbitration raises. First tax threshold is $206MM and the harsher penalties start at $226MM.

So, it's almost guaranteed the Cubs go over this year. The real question is, will they do a Machado or Harper (probably ~$40MM/yr.) deal that almost assuredly puts them over for the next 3 years (plus) with no option to reset.

The only team that has done that has done the 3+ years over is Boston. Even the other big boys (LA & NYY) planned in their reset.

I really don't think they'll do a Machado or Harper deal. The pitching is really the easiest way to upgrade the team anyway, and it's slightly cheaper (in years at least).
They are actually over, counting arb stuff even before exercising Hamels option.
 
#19
south of Curtis, off 1st
spending (or not spending) money is not a problem that keeps Theo or Jed awake at night.
The Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees and RedSox are in a whole 'nother class in MLB. Get used to it
 
#20
spending (or not spending) money is not a problem that keeps Theo or Jed awake at night.
The Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees and RedSox are in a whole 'nother class in MLB. Get used to it
By 2017 revenue they're 3rd, well behind Dodgers in 2nd (who are well behind the Yankees). Ostensibly tied with Boston and the Giants. Playoff share $ account for a lot year to year, so that might change for 2018 (probably behind Boston).

But revenue isn't the full picture. They're a corporate entity just like any other, they have shareholders who demand a certain return on capital, debt obligations, etc. They might be able to spend well above other teams, or they might not. I think the most sensible way to look at it, unless they are willing to lock themselves above the luxury tax line for the foreseeable future (which only Boston has done historically), they probably won't do one of the mega contracts for Harper or Machado, unless like bdutts said, they can dump the Heyward or Chatwood dead money. Especially when starting pitching is the more short to middle term need anyway.
 
#21
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
By 2017 revenue they're 3rd, well behind Dodgers in 2nd (who are well behind the Yankees). Ostensibly tied with Boston and the Giants. Playoff share $ account for a lot year to year, so that might change for 2018 (probably behind Boston).
What that does not factor in is the huge TV deal they will sign in the next 1-2 years, which will move them even higher on the list.
 
#22
What that does not factor in is the huge TV deal they will sign in the next 1-2 years, which will move them even higher on the list.
Yea I get that, and I'm not trying to definitively say the Cubs won't blow out the payroll/ blow past the luxury tax for a Machado or Harper deal, it's just that there are so many unknowns and it would definitely be against the trend of teams being either just over the luxury tax line or at least at the point where they can get back under the line rather easily within that 3 year time line.

And for strictly baseball reasons, I think it makes a lot more sense for them to spend money on pitching to widen the window than offense. The pitching collapse could happen literally next year with two 35 year olds and a guy who only threw 40 innings being relied upon to be 3/5ths of the rotation. There's not much cheap depth there to supplement like a lot of other high payroll teams. Hendricks was their only above average starter last year.
 
#23
And for strictly baseball reasons, I think it makes a lot more sense for them to spend money on pitching to widen the window than offense. The pitching collapse could happen literally next year with two 35 year olds and a guy who only threw 40 innings being relied upon to be 3/5ths of the rotation. There's not much cheap depth there to supplement like a lot of other high payroll teams. Hendricks was their only above average starter last year.
I wont disagree with you entirely, but the cubs do have some hope for back end starters. They don't have any guys who will likely emerge as ace type players, but even if Lester and Hamels act more like 3/4 guys than 1/2 (which is likely), Hendricks and Q are locked in (regardless of whether the Q trade was good, he's about as solid a 3 guy as you can have. Throw in Darvish, and that's 5 guys who will still give meaningful innings, maybe not top 5 rotation stuff, but top half of the league no doubt.

Chatwood has a chance to bounce back and I believe we still have Montgomery coming back. Drew Smyly is a wildcard kind of guy and there are a couple young guys I could see getting a crack. Adbert Alzolay is as good as the cubs farm system has, and he should get his chance. Clifton had a good last year, and I'm sure others are coming of age. No, this isn't the 2016 rotation, but theres no reason to think the in house talent can't be enough to win a WS. The same can be said about the offensive side however.

I'm more worried about the BP and backup catcher position. We need Willson to be at the top of his game and starting 120+ games wears on any catcher. Caratini has been a bust so far, if the Cubs don't get Harper/Machado, I see them spending big on another catcher (relatively speaking).

I think the most intriguing situation is if Kershaw opts out. Will the Cubs pursue? Perhaps the best pitcher in a lifetime, but pushing 31 and probably commanding 10ish years at 30m+? That's the kind of deal that sinks an organization. Or maybe I'm overestimating his value.
 
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#24
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
I think the most intriguing situation is if Kershaw opts out. Will the Cubs pursue? Perhaps the best pitcher in a lifetime, but pushing 31 and probably commanding 10ish years at 30m+? That's the kind of deal that sinks an organization. Or maybe I'm overestimating his value.
I hope not. There's just no upside. They'd have to overpay and hope that his decline of the past couple of years reverses itself.
 
#25
south of Curtis, off 1st
By 2017 revenue they're 3rd, well behind Dodgers in 2nd (who are well behind the Yankees). Ostensibly tied with Boston and the Giants. Playoff share $ account for a lot year to year, so that might change for 2018 (probably behind Boston).

But revenue isn't the full picture. They're a corporate entity just like any other, they have shareholders who demand a certain return on capital, debt obligations, etc.
They are wholly owned by the Ricketts family, the Omaha based clan who's patriarch started Ameritrade. All the second generation kids live in Chicago, and Tom runs the show . The "shareholders" are about 4-5 people in one family . They don't really answer to anyone but themselves. Sure , some capital spending stuff is on borrowed money, but that is the same thing with Steinbrenner clan . The Ricketts have to answer to lenders for capital spending issues , but not operations stuff.
Tom Ricketts tends to let Theo make ALL baseball decisions , but obviously Theo has to get Tom to sign off when he is negotiating big long term contracts.
The Yankees will likely always be #1, and the Dodgers #2. But the Cubs and BoSox and perhaps another team or 2 will always be in top 5 or so. When the Cubs start their own network this winter, they will most likely solidify their #3 status .