The Cubs never made the big offseason deal to acquire a starting pitcher that many expected of them, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein tells Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago that his team will be ready to pounce on a deal should the right opportunity present itself during the season. “We built in a little bit of room for in-season,” says Epstein. “We built in some (budget) flexibility, but I wouldn’t expect a very aggressive winter next year. I think we’ve been open about the fact that we really did two offseasons worth of spending and acquisitions in one winter, knowing that we like the players available this winter more than next winter.” Epstein also tells Mooney that any trade in which he surrenders young talent would have to land someone that fits “both for now and probably for the long-term if it’s going to be a bigger deal.”
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- Brewers lefty Sean Nolin has been officially diagnosed with a UCL sprain and not an elbow strain, GM David Stearns told reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter link). Nolin will rehab the injury for the next six weeks before making a decision on Tommy John surgery. Milwaukee picked up Nolin from the A’s this offseason and had expected to use him in the ’pen prior to his injury.
- Via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (Twitter link), Stearns also revealed that he had interest in signing right-hander Carlos Torres earlier this offseason upon his release from the Mets. Torres, however, inked a minor league contract with the Braves and headed to camp with Atlanta. While the Brewers weren’t prepared to offer a big league deal at the time, they clearly had a change of heart late in camp, as Milwaukee signed Torres to a Major League pact over the weekend after he opted out of his deal with Atlanta. The Brew Crew can control Torres through 2018 via the arbitration process if he excels in his new environs.
- While many Pirates fans have focused on the losses of Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and second-half surprise J.A. Happ this offseason, Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that not enough emphasis has been placed on retaining an expensive closer in Mark Melancon — a decision that kept a dominant Pirates relief corps intact. Cook spoke to GM Neal Huntington about the decision to hold onto his All-Star closer. “I know first-hand,” Huntington told Cook. “One year I was with Cleveland, we lost more late leads in a month than most teams do all season. I know that’s hard to come back from. That’s a big part of our decision to keep Mark.” Huntington said that he never got any offers to his liking for Melancon this winter and didn’t see many ways to effectively reallocate the $9.65MM Melancon earned in arbitration to definitively improve the 2016 club. Notably, he discussed the loss of Happ and explained that part of the reason the front office felt Happ was so successful was that he was asked to throw more than six innings just once with the Bucs — due in large part to Pittsburgh’s strong bullpen.
This Pirates fan paid attention to the retention of Melancon, under the radar signings of Vogelsong, Feliz, Nicasio and now Polanco.. Picked up a very good bench guy and interim 3rd base starter in Freese. Yes they lost a few HR from Alvarez and Walker but with Harrison everyday at 2nd and what appears to be a better on base achieving LH hitting 1st base option to hold the fort until Bell is ready, the Pirates are much better defensively and will be able to compensate for the loss of runs from Walker and Alvarez by keeping the opposition’s run total down by not giving them near as many unearned runs and by getting guys on and moving them as opposed to giving the other teams outs when the ball fails to leave the park. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Walker when he was here but he was gone after this year anyway as some team will over pay for an aging 2nd baseman with a history of back issues. No way should the Pirates have signed him long term. Pedro may turn into the hitter I always thought he would be if he does not have to think about defense. His hitting was improving until he started having all of the major issues playing in the field. DH may be his calling and Baltimore may get lucky and have him finally break out this year.
A rebounded Julio Teheran sounds like what Epstein is referring to. I think his “in-season” comment leads to what could be a fun trade deadline. It will be interesting to see where the A’s, Rays, Os, and a couple other teams with good young controllable pitchers sit come July.
I think a lot too will be determined by how Hammel, Lackey and Lester pitch. If all pitch to past levels or close to it, Theo may not need to trade much if anything at all. Being a Pirates fan, hoping the age on these guys becomes a factor and this is the year they start to drop off. (I fear the same with Liriano) I am not counting on that though. How is Jake’s blister? Will be a fun year for the top 3 in the NL central.
Jake’s blister is ready to pop and drown the hopes of Bucs and Cards fans.
I agree it will be a fun year.
Just hadn’t heard anything since it was brought up about a week ago. Blisters can suck for a pitcher. Pirates had a couple of guys that had blister issues several years back. Just can’t remember who. If it was in the mid nineties through 2010, would guess I forgot who they were cause most of the arms that came through were pretty forgettable. Hope for Jake’s sake the issue does not get chronic. Would be a shame for him if it would considering how hard he worked to get to the top. Never want to wish an injury problem on anyone. Bad karma in that.
I think they make a package for Tyson Ross or Sonny Gray
Of all the young aces who may be potentially available, I’d bet on Sonny Gray being a Cub by the summer trade deadline. Other possibilities might include the Marlins Jose Fernandez and White Sox ace Chris Sale, but I view each of their teams as potential contenders in 2016, especially Chicago in a more balanced A.L. Central.
Imo, the A’s will be bottom feeders in the A.L. West in 2016 and likely have the worst record in the A.L. overall. Look for pending free agent RF Josh Reddick to be moved as well with no contract extension likely this season. If the White Sox contend, Reddick might be a mid-summer target for them. They could use a left-handed power bat in the middle of their batting order. The Rockies Carlos Gonzales should also be on their radar this summer with the Rockies unlikely to be contenders in the N.L. West.
Cubs are the most overrated team in the history of baseball. Going to be so much fun to watch them tank this year more than all years.
You’re an idiot. Go away. Or stop being a troll.
How are they overrated? They are absolutely stacked and if your team had half that talent you would be saying a championship was in their very near future. As cubsfan2489 stated, stop being a troll.
Thanks coffin! Guess he didn’t realize they have the NL ROY, Manger of the year, and NL Cy Young winner! Who just happens to be putting the nail in the coffin to the Angels opener!
Pitching staff will fall apart. Bullpen is awful and those awards were just a popularity contest. None of them deserved them. Getting blown away in the playoffs is exactly what they deserved. Losing is what that organization is all about.