Chicago Cubs 2020 Season

#51
Oswego, IL
Ken Rosenthal reporting that there is virtually no chance of the Cubs signing Castellanos. Supposedly Cubs are telling even the lowest-cost free agents that they need to shed payroll before making any major signings. So barring a major trade look for an offseason similar to last year.
Which would tamper expectations for next year.
 
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#53
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
Ken Rosenthal reporting that there is virtually no chance of the Cubs signing Castellanos. Supposedly Cubs are telling even the lowest-cost free agents that they need to shed payroll before making any major signings. So barring a major trade look for an offseason similar to last year.
I still can't get past the feeling that we've seen the last of Contreras. I think we'll see a big trade.
 
#55
The players that would reduce payroll significantly and be someone another would actually want comes down to four guys:

Quintana and Chatwood are both on the last year of their contracts. Neither will give the Cube any significant return in assets, but if the idea is only to cut payroll, the Cubs can probably find a taker if they simply give them away.

Rizzo has this year and then one more incredibly cheap team option before free agency. He’s a premiere player at his position in his prime and would net huge return. He’s also the team leader and I don’t see how you could trade him and then claim with a straight face that you’re trying to compete this year.

Bryant is a better player than Rizzo. But there’s an active arbitration case which brings into question whether he’s under team control for 1 or 2 years. He’s also more expensive than Rizzo. The Cubs probably have better means of replacing Bryant’s production than Rizzo’s, but probably wouldn’t get the return to make it worth while until the arbitrator rules on his case whenever that might be.

Schwarber, Contreras, Caratini, Hendricks, Happ and Bote are all guys that might net a good return in trade, but none would really do anything to alleviate payroll concerns.

Moving Lester, Heyward and Darvish could all help with the payroll, but might have unmovable contracts. And like Rizzo, it would be hard to see how the Cubs compete this year and move Darvish.

I think the Cubs are way too good of a team to blow it all up. But the noise in the media really makes it sound like that’s the way the team is leaning.
 
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#57
Thanks for that post. I love how people are suddenly acting like the Cubs are trying to be ranked in the bottom third of the league in salary.

They have to shed some if they want a big name.
 
#58
They have to shed some if they want a big name.
They don’t really. It’s a tax. Not a hard cap. With where the Cubs are in their window, how profitable they are, the holes they have on the roster, and the dollars coming off the books these next two years, you could argue that the Cubs really should blow past the tax by $40million or so, if they were to do it strategically.

One of the problems with that argument, however, is that one of their big needs - centerfield - just isn’t there to be had in free agency. So, they are going to have to make a trade anyway. Trades take time, and the free agents you might want might go before you make the trade, and there’s not much point in making a bunch of free agent signings if you don’t know if you’ll be able to fix one of your primary holes.

Thus they’re kind of in wait and see mode.
 
#59
Houston, Texas
They don’t really. It’s a tax. Not a hard cap. With where the Cubs are in their window, how profitable they are, the holes they have on the roster, and the dollars coming off the books these next two years, you could argue that the Cubs really should blow past the tax by $40million or so, if they were to do it strategically.

One of the problems with that argument, however, is that one of their big needs - centerfield - just isn’t there to be had in free agency. So, they are going to have to make a trade anyway. Trades take time, and the free agents you might want might go before you make the trade, and there’s not much point in making a bunch of free agent signings if you don’t know if you’ll be able to fix one of your primary holes.

Thus they’re kind of in wait and see mode.
Don't they also lose draft picks, when they are over the threshold In addition to the tax?
 
#61
They don’t really. It’s a tax. Not a hard cap. With where the Cubs are in their window, how profitable they are, the holes they have on the roster, and the dollars coming off the books these next two years, you could argue that the Cubs really should blow past the tax by $40million or so, if they were to do it strategically.
I mean, I couldn't care less about how much the Ricketts are making. I'd love to see them have the highest payroll in baseball. But they've only put out statements that seem the contradict they would want to go over the luxury tax. That being said, I'm always of the mind that sports teams put out almost exactly what they want out there, which could or could not correlate to actual thinking, so it really doesn't matter--actions do. As of now, it doesn't look like they want to go into the tax.

Yes the next few years are very interesting. Who resigns, who we let go, etc. In my mind, I wouldn't be displeased to see a guy like Contreras go for a controllable top prospect or two. You can't pay everyone. Take on some risk, get some young guys on the cheap who might turn out to be all stars, sign the guys who really matter (Bryant/Baez), and keep drafting and retaining talent.
 
#62
On one hand it's very easy for us to spend other people's money. On the other hand, looking at the construction of this team and how there's really only two years left of this group of players, why not go for it this year?
 
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#63
The 5 things that have happened since 2016 that have gotten the Cubs where they are now... in no particular order...

1. Inability to field a MLB-caliber CF: The Cubs' outfield hasn't worked since Dexter Fowler left. They gave the CF job to Almora without much evidence at the Major or Minor League level that he'd be able to handle the job and he's been a below average defender and a complete disaster at the plate. They are unwilling to give the job to Happ and have been unable to find another candidate through either internal or external means.

2. The complete implosion of Addison Russell as a baseball player and human being: A historically elite infield defense was a big part of what made the 2016 great and the 2016 version of Addison Russell was a big part of that. Injuries and off the field issues have turned Russell from NL ASG starting SS in 2016 to non-tendered after the 2019 season. And honestly, he should have been non-tendered a year sooner. The Cubs had a ton of capital invested in Russell and to have him dissolve into nothingness has been a disaster.

3. The disappointing returns on Quintana: The Cubs emptied the remainder of the farm out for Quintana. He hasn't been horrible, but he hasn't been anywhere near the pitcher he was with the Sox. None of the prospects traded would have been able to help the Cubs the last couple years (or probably this year), but this is an opportunity cost issue here since the same prospects the Cubs sent to get Quintana could have been used to trade for Justin Verlander instead.

4. Spending tons of money on bad/hurt closers: In 18 and 19, the Cubs spent a combined $28MM on Brandon Morrow and Craig Kimbrel to get 51.1 IP, a 3.51 ERA and 35 saves. They're still on the hook for at least $20MM more from these two with absolutely no guarantee that they'll provide anything. Thus still having a big question mark at the back end of their bullpen.

5. The development of a grand total of ZERO pitching prospects during Epstein's entire time in Chicago: The reason that #3 and #4 are such a disaster is that the Cubs have been unable to do any back filling of the pitching staff with prospects. We're at 8 drafts now for Epstein and co. Is 2019 the year they finally get some contribution from the farm? The Cubs seem to be banking on it. As the roster is currently constructed, Underwood looks like he'll be coming out of the pen. Maples (a Hendry pick, BTW) looks like the first reliever on the shuttle from Iowa. If Alzolay doesn't beat out Mills or Chatwood for the 5th rotation spot, he'll be the first starter up from the minors in case of injury. Norwood will get an opportunity to win a spot in spring training, and Steele and Tyson Miller could be later season call ups. If the Cubs had been getting a 5th starter and a couple bullpen pieces from their farm that last couple season, that would have given them far better payroll flexibility to handle some of their other issues.
 
#65
If you’re $40MM over, your highest pick gets bumped back 10 spots. So if your pick should be 20, it’s moved to 30.
Luxury tax link
Additionally, financially it is 20% of surplus over limit for first year, then 30% year 2, then 50% for 3 or more years..As I read it, for the Cubs, they were under limit in 2018, over in 2019, so if they go over in 2020 they are in 30% tax, 2021 would be the 50%. So there certainly is an incentive to drop back below limit and reset the tax rate if you are going to make a run at Baez when his contract comes up & fill some of the holes at the same time.
 
#66
Geneseo, IL
I mean, I couldn't care less about how much the Ricketts are making. I'd love to see them have the highest payroll in baseball. But they've only put out statements that seem the contradict they would want to go over the luxury tax. That being said, I'm always of the mind that sports teams put out almost exactly what they want out there, which could or could not correlate to actual thinking, so it really doesn't matter--actions do. As of now, it doesn't look like they want to go into the tax.

Yes the next few years are very interesting. Who resigns, who we let go, etc. In my mind, I wouldn't be displeased to see a guy like Contreras go for a controllable top prospect or two. You can't pay everyone. Take on some risk, get some young guys on the cheap who might turn out to be all stars, sign the guys who really matter (Bryant/Baez), and keep drafting and retaining talent.
Isn't Ricketts pretty much on record saying that he won't be paying any luxury tax for this season? It comes down to us just having to wait until this major trade(s) come through, and I think it will be either Bryant, Contreras, or both.
 
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#69
Kyle has a better bat and is a better defender than Nick. Not to mention Kyle is under control for 2 more years and will be extremely cheap in comparison. Signing Castellanos to trade Schwarber is a 180 from the mantra the front office has been pushing--unless they shed a ton of money with Schwarber leaving and get a controllable piece or two in return.

To me, the only young guy I could see the Cubs peddling is Contreras. Elite bat at catcher, bad defense, but has a backup who looked fantastic behind the plate last year (defensively speaking, which to me is much more valuable), and one of the top non-pitching farm hands plays catcher too. He's a luxury another team surely values higher than the Cubs, but that trigger will be hard to pull. If they can get a controllable above average center fielder, along with a pitcher or two, I'd be thrilled.
 
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#70
Kyle has a better bat and is a better defender than Nick. Not to mention Kyle is under control for 2 more years and will be extremely cheap in comparison. Signing Castellanos to trade Schwarber is a 180 from the mantra the front office has been pushing--unless they shed a ton of money with Schwarber leaving and get a controllable piece or two in return.

To me, the only young guy I could see the Cubs peddling is Contreras. Elite bat at catcher, bad defense, but has a backup who looked fantastic behind the plate last year (defensively speaking, which to me is much more valuable), and one of the top non-pitching farm hands plays catcher too. He's a luxury another team surely values higher than the Cubs, but that trigger will be hard to pull. If they can get a controllable above average center fielder, along with a pitcher or two, I'd be thrilled.
I could see them moving Bryant as well. With both he and Contreras, the return would have to be quite high. The more I've given time into rumor speculation and prospective trades, I'd love to see Victor Robles in a Bryant deal with the Nationals, though I don't see that as a likely scenario given Robles potential/team control.
 
#71
I could see them moving Bryant as well. With both he and Contreras, the return would have to be quite high. The more I've given time into rumor speculation and prospective trades, I'd love to see Victor Robles in a Bryant deal with the Nationals, though I don't see that as a likely scenario given Robles potential/team control.
So you slide Bote over to third? Nervous about his ability to play third everyday. Guess it's safe to assume we get another in fielder if we trade both, but still I don't want to lean on Bote as anything more than a for rest type starter.

My issue with trading Bryant is he's one of the best in the game, and proven to be consistent as such for his entire MLB career. I get moving him now if you don't think there's even a 10% chance he resigns, but it would have to be a huge trade for me to really get behind it. Honestly, maybe I'm just more comfortable giving up Contreras.

Either way, we have to make moves. Whether it's to extend our window, or make a push this year, we are very close to the worse position in professional sports .500 ball. Being average has zero benefits if you aren't trending upwards, and trending upwards quickly. You don't make the playoffs (or get bounced quickly) and you don't have a chance at high draft picks. It's not where any pro team wants or should be.
 
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#72
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
So you slide Bote over to third? Nervous about his ability to play third everyday. Guess it's safe to assume we get another in fielder if we trade both, but still I don't want to lean on Bote as anything more than a for rest type starter.
Castellanos was Detroit's everyday 3B for 4 years before moving to the OF.
 
#74
A Legend in My Own Mind
Montgomery, IL
And was really bad at it. There’s a reason he was moved off 3B for a succession of mid-level prospects.
Yes - but he's been equally bad in the OF. If he signs, we've got to play him somewhere.
 
#75
Houston, Texas
Yes - but he's been equally bad in the OF. If he signs, we've got to play him somewhere.
i wonder what the metrics say on his OF and his 3B. To my eye, he didn't look bad in RF last year. I'm guessing he played pretty deep and wasn't going to get beat that way but I was kind of expecting Jose Canseco out there and he certainly was better than that. I will say that I prefer Heyward in RF instead of CF.

EDIT: looks like at RF for the Cubs, Castellanos was 2 Total Zone Rating. LF was -1. At 3B he was anywhere between -8 and -29. Not sure I understand these metrics but it looks like he's serviceable in RF.
 
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