The hot-stove hasn’t really gotten going yet. Maybe the pilot light is out. Seems like the whole league is waiting for a Giancarlo Stanton-sized shoe to drop, along with an Otani signing before everyone opens up for what’s left. We’re still a couple weeks away from the Winter Meetings, so we might be in a holding pattern until then. Basically, we’re all waiting for the baseball key log.
So we sit and wait, and wonder which of the four trade pieces of the Apocalypse–Baez, Russell, Happ, or Schwarber–are moved along for pitching. They’ve told us that’s basically what’s coming. Everyone around the Cubs is saying that’s what’s going to happen. Looking at what’s left in the minors, there’s probably not enough there.
And yet, I can’t help but feel like the Cubs might be forcing it a bit.
We know Alex Cobb is high on the list, and that’s fine. He fills a need in the middle or the back of a rotation. But he’s not a cure-all obviously, especially given his questionable durability.
We know the free agent market is incredibly weak. It’s Arrieta, it’s Darvish, and then a big drop to Cobb, and then it’s a big pile of goo that smells funny. We know that Arrieta is pretty much a goner, and that Darvish is going to be too expensive as well, even if he costs the same as Arrieta.
But I’m not sure the trade market is any better. Chris Archer is the name that first pops up, and I can live with that. I guess. Then again, if any of the Four Trade Pieces Of The Apocalypse maxes out down the road, I’m not sure I’ll sleep all that comfortably. But that’s the risk you take and we accept that. Archer is still 29 and still only throws two pitches so… well, I’m slightly itchy. He’s certainly an improvement over John Lackey and a hell of a lot better than Lance Lynn. He’s probably a measurable improvement on Arrieta too, if we’re being honest.
But beyond that, if the asking price from the Rays gets too high… there just isn’t much there, is there? My Marcus Stroman dreams are about as realistic as becoming mayor of Narnia at this point. Michael Fulmer isn’t really all that good? And aren’t the Tigers going to build around him? Both the Phillies and Braves are in stages of their rebuild where they’re not going to give up pitching. There aren’t that many teams in a tear-down like last year.
The fear is that the Cubs would be making a trade just to make one. Say you just signed Cobb and one-year filler to start the season and then see what’s around at the deadline or midseason? Much like the Cubs did this year, I guess. Thanks to his injury problems, Cole Hamels will not get his option vested and would be in the last year of his deal. Maybe you see how he rebounds? Ok, sure, to agree to a trade he’d probably want that option guaranteed, but that’s only one year more. You could do worse. Maybe the Giants suck again and will give you Samardzija for absolutely nothing, though that’s obviously not on the same level.
What if it goes belly-up in Anaheim and they decide to cut ties with Garret Richards? It’s been a couple years since he’s been good, but it’s in there somewhere if he can find health again. Maybe the Blue Jays pack it in and either Stroman/Sanchez are available? Gerrit Cole before his arb years get too expensive for the Pirates? Ok, you’d have to offer them all of Blackbeard’s riches to get them to trade within the division, but you get the point. Maybe the Mariners finally get it and realize they have to start over and Paxton is available (which wouldn’t be all that different than Archer, honestly).
We know the Cubs can find ABs for everyone, no matter how jam-packed the roster might seem before we all start. We know guys get hurt to clear time for others. We know other veterans are getting older. These things never go quite as designed.
If something’s there, then fine. I just am not convinced it’s there right now.