With a reduced payroll looming and many core pieces entering contract years, will the Cubs finally engineer a shake-up?
- Yu Darvish, SP: $62MM through 2023, or $65MM if he wins the Cy Young award
- Jason Heyward, RF: $65MM through 2023
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B: $16.5MM through 2021
- Craig Kimbrel, RP: $17MM through 2021
- Kyle Hendricks, SP: $43.5MM through 2023
- David Bote, 3B: $14MM through 2024
Arbitration Eligible Players
This year’s arbitration projections are more volatile than ever, given the unprecedented revenue losses felt by clubs and the shortened 2020 schedule. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who developed our arbitration projection model, used three different methods to calculate different projection numbers. You can see the full projections and an explanation of each if you click here, but for the purposes of our Outlook series, we’ll be using Matt’s 37-percent method — extrapolating what degree of raise a player’s 2020 rate of play would have earned him in a full 162-game slate and then awarding him 37 percent of that raise.
- Kris Bryant, 3B: $18.6MM
- Javier Baez, SS: $10.7MM
- Kyle Schwarber, LF: $7.9MM
- Willson Contreras, C: $5.6MM
- Ian Happ, CF: $2.5MM
- Jose Martinez, DH: $2.1MM
- Albert Almora Jr., CF: $1.575MM
- Victor Caratini, C: $1.2MM
- Kyle Ryan, RP: $1.2MM
- Ryan Tepera, RP: $1.1MM
- Colin Rea, RP: $1.0MM
- Dan Winkler, RP: $900K
- Non-tender candidates: Schwarber, Bryant, Almora, Martinez, , Ryan, Rea, Winkler
- Exercised $16.5MM club option on 1B Anthony Rizzo
- Declined $25MM club option on SP Jon Lester (paid $10MM buyout)
- Declined $3.5MM club option on IF Daniel Descalso (paid $1MM buyout)
- Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, Jeremy Jeffress, Andrew Chafin, Billy Hamilton, Jason Kipnis, Cameron Maybin, Josh Phegley, Daniel Descalso
Though the Cubs won the NL Central in the strange 60-game 2020 season, their season ended in disappointment just as it did in 2018 and 2019. This time, it was a playoff sweep at the hands of the Marlins. Most of the Cubs’ offensive core failed to show up in 2020. Here’s Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein with a quote that might as well have come from the ’18 or ’19 post-mortem press conferences:
Clearly, some change is warranted and necessary. Simply hoping for a better outcome moving forward doesn’t seem like a thoughtful approach. Embracing some change, even significant change, is warranted.
It’s remarkable how little the Cubs’ group of position players has turned over since they won the World Series in 2016. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward — they’re all still here. Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, and Schwarber are each now down to one year of control. Epstein’s contract will be up as well, and 2021 is widely expected to be his last hurrah with the Cubs before Jed Hoyer moves into the top chair in the front office. Epstein has avoided change for the sake of change, but this is his last chance to shake up the team and try something different.
Any Cubs shakeup will come against the backdrop of financial austerity, with the team having laid off 100-plus employees, according to Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic. And while the pandemic will be the driver of the Cubs’ expected player payroll reduction, it’s not as if they were spending any money in the two previous offseasons. If you’re looking for potential free-agent targets, focus on players at the bottom of our Top 50 Free Agents list, unless the club dumps salary first.
So once again, the winter is all about trade speculation for Cubs fans. The problem? Likely trade candidates Bryant and Schwarber had lousy years with the bat, and Baez was particularly awful. The samples are small. Bryant’s 147 plate appearances would have represented less than a quarter of a season for him based on the 671 he averaged from 2015-17. No one thinks Bryant is now a below-average hitter, given a five-year track record of success before 2020. From a club standpoint, the down year will at least prevent his arbitration salary from climbing much higher than the $18.6MM he was supposed to earn in a full 2020. But even though it was just 147 plate appearances, trading Bryant now is still selling low. At a time when most teams are expected to reduce payroll, who wants to take on roughly $20MM for Bryant while also giving up good players?
I explored specific team matches for Bryant in this post. You can identify about a half-dozen clubs that could work. The Cubs are between a rock and a hard place with Bryant, though. If the Cubs expect Bryant to put up a 4 WAR season in 2021, but no one’s offering much beyond salary relief, they should just keep him. But if they keep him, they cut off a major avenue for making a significant change to the team.
We should also take a moment to discuss the possibility of the Cubs non-tendering Bryant on December 2nd, which Mooney and Sharma said recently “probably can’t be totally dismissed out of hand because the Cubs have shown us how they are managing the downturn.” As they wrote, this would be an “embarrassment” and a “worst-case scenario.” If the Cubs exhaust all trade scenarios and don’t want to commit themselves to Bryant at around $20MM, it is an avenue they could take, however unlikely. We did just see 29 teams pass on Brad Hand at one year and $10MM. If no one is willing to take Bryant at his salary, the Cubs’ choice would come down to keeping him or cutting him. They could also consider cutting Bryant or Schwarber during Spring Training, but that would require at least 30 days termination pay and would put the player in a difficult spot.
Schwarber presents a lesser version of the same dilemma. He posted a 90 wRC+ in 224 plate appearances, but it’s not too hard to picture him returning to the 115-120 range in 2021 as a 28-year-old next year. If he does, his $7MM salary could be a bargain. He’s still more replaceable than Bryant, which is why I wouldn’t rule out a non-tender for Schwarber either if the Cubs can’t find a trade partner prior to December 2nd. I’m not optimistic about the Cubs finding a team willing to give up anything of note for a left fielder/designated hitter, particularly with Joc Pederson and Michael Brantley available in free agency and Eddie Rosario in trade (and possibly being non-tendered himself). Brantley, a much better contact hitter than Schwarber, would actually be an interesting choice to replace him for the Cubs. I’m not sure I can see the Cubs unloading Schwarber’s $7MM to potentially sign Brantley for twice as much, however.
With Baez, a contract extension could be more likely than a trade. He’s a popular, entertaining player with a desire to stay. I can see fans being disappointed if the Cubs keep Bryant and Schwarber, trade them for an uninspiring return, or non-tender them for nothing. A Baez extension could restore some goodwill. Figuring out a fair number during a pandemic for a player coming off a bad year could make an extension difficult for Baez, however. The Cubs have already extended some goodwill toward face of the franchise Anthony Rizzo, exercising his $16.5MM club option after a 103 wRC+ performance. It’s hard to picture Rizzo in any other uniform, but a new contract would have to be hammered out to retain him beyond ’21.
The Cubs have several solid building blocks in place through 2023 in Darvish, Hendricks, and Happ. They’ve got Contreras under control through ’22. All options will likely be on the table in terms of trades, and these are the players with trade value. Contreras is coming off a solid year, and getting his age 29-30 seasons would likely be appealing to the runners-up for J.T. Realmuto. Plus, Contreras won’t cost $20MM+ like Realmuto will. The Cubs could trim $7MM in payroll if they exchange Contreras for pre-arbitration players. The Marlins, Mets, Phillies, Rays, and Yankees could be interesting trade partners. If they trade Contreras, the Cubs might be content to plug in Victor Caratini as their starter behind the dish.
Similarly, the Cubs could look to get out of their commitment to Darvish with his value at a high point. They wouldn’t be able to find a Cy Young-caliber pitcher to replace him, but they could use some of the savings for veteran free agents while also bringing in quality minimum-salary players in the trade. Considering painful scenarios like these is the reality of the 2021 Cubs.
With Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood reaching free agency, the Cubs figure to import at least one starting pitcher this winter and possibly two. They’ve got Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills slated behind Darvish and Hendricks, but the team clearly needs more. Interest in a Lester reunion is mutual, though the Cubs may seek more upside than the veteran southpaw can offer. One possible answer would be to find the pitching equivalent of Bryant or Schwarber – an arbitration eligible player with limited control coming off a down year – and broker a trade. Such a deal could be struck prior to the December 2nd non-tender deadline, particularly in the case of Schwarber.
On the other hand, Epstein spoke about “thread[ing] the needle and improv[ing] in 2021 while also setting ourselves up for the long-term future,” which suggests he’d like prefer to swap contract year players for ones with multiple years of control. That makes sense in theory, but as I’ve been saying, Bryant and Schwarber don’t seem to have a lot of trade value. Look at the minimal return the Indians received for a $17.5MM Corey Kluber after a lost 2019 season. And that was with the Rangers at least having the chance to get two years of Kluber, who had an expensive option for 2021 (that was bought out due to injury). That’s why trading Contreras, Darvish, Hendricks, or Happ might be Epstein’s best way to thread the needle.
The Cubs’ bullpen is also in need of reinforcements. The pitcher they put in the highest-leverage situations, Jeremy Jeffress, is a free agent. Much has been made of Craig Kimbrel’s final 14 appearances of the season, in which he posted a 1.42 ERA with a 53.1 K%, 14.3 BB%, and no home runs allowed. The list of 60+ inning relief seasons from 2015-19 in which a pitcher walked at least 14% of batters faced runs just seven-deep: Brandon Workman, Jeurys Familia, Adam Ottavino, Steven Brault, Reyes Moronta, Carl Edwards Jr., and Kyle Barraclough. The truth is that if you issue free passes to batters at the rate Kimbrel did in the “good” portion of his 2020 season, you’re walking a tightrope that few have found sustainable.
The Cubs’ most reliable reliever might be Rowan Wick, who has strung together 50 2/3 innings of 2.66 ERA ball since joining the team in a November 2018 trade. I can picture Ryan Tepera sticking around, though he walked a career-worst 13.5% of batters faced for the Cubs this year. The Cubs’ other potential bullpen holdovers seem even more fungible. I’m not yet convinced in the Cubs’ ability to grab castoff relievers on the cheap, run them through their Pitch Lab, and create an above-average bullpen. One-year deals should abound for free agent relievers this winter, and the Cubs should set their sights higher than the scrap heap.
Epstein’s legacy in Chicago is secure, and he’s likely headed for the Hall of Fame one day. But for a big-market, high-payroll team that’s made the playoffs five times in the last six seasons, fans can’t help but feel disappointed with one championship. In positioning the 2021 Cubs for one last run, Epstein faces one of his greatest challenges.
May I ask how Schwarber and Bryant are non tender candidates? I could understand if they were going full rebuild, but we all know they aren’t. Foolish thinking if you ask me.
It’s just a money conversation. No one knows how the financials will shake out, so they expect everyone to cut every corner possible. Maybe we should start a GoFundMe?
Feel like I provided all the context I could on that in the post.
Because after arb raises Bryant will be earning $20mm and Schwarber $10mm, and the only way you move those contracts is to trade them for another teams salary dump. If you’re not contending this year or the next few years, why pay $30mm for their terrible production, especially in this baseball economy?
xxtreme—if you mention Schwarber and Bryant—why not Baez??? As bad as Bryant and Schwarber were this past season Baez was the worst of the three. In this economic stage–everything should be on the table.
Mike because he didn’t list Baez in the article as a non tender candidate. And chitown311, why is it you only every comment on Cubs articles? Pretty sad.
I was simply answering your question as to why those two are non-tender candidates, along with Tim explaining it in the article, if you bothered to read it. What’s pretty sad is that you have your blinders on and don’t realize that Bryant has been trending downward for the last 2.5 seasons, and Schwarber has a career 5.1 WAR in roughly 5 seasons of work, but all you see is the fact is that he hit a home run on top of a scoreboard once, 6 seasons ago.
@xxtreme- chitown gave you a legitimate response and all you can say in a criticism is how often he posts in Cub topics? Weak, brother.
Well said, chitown!!
And SalaryCap, too!! Well done, sir.
What’s it like to have split personalities?
You don’t mention Baez because he needs to be extended. Non-tendering Baez is like trading Eloy again. You just don’t do that. Top 5 SS in Baseball. Best defensive SS in baseball. He’s been snubbed on a gold glove the last 3 years. One bad 60 game year does not justify being non-tendered.
The only free agent they should signs Jeffress and Lester for way less than 25 mil. They Bought out the contract for 10mil. So maybe offer him 5-8mil for one year.
I don’t think they’ll be non-tendered but it’s worth noting. They’ll be paying them on potential to rebound not on merit from 2020. If you take away the name and base it purely on recent history vs 2021 salary you could see how one could make the case for non-tender. The Cubs are strapped for cash(perhaps more than most after covid)and they don’t have much in the way of trade candidates to retool. I think he’s merely bringing it up as an option to free up salary to allocate in other areas. But I think most likely they just let their core give it one more go and hope it all comes together
They’re not strapped for cash at all. The Ricketts just don’t want to spend money to improve the team. Simple as that.
I’m surprised and not surprised at the same time with Schwarber listed as a non-tender candidate. But his 2018 and 2019 numbers aren’t much different from like Joc Pederson and while Schwarber is projected to make around $8 million in arb, Pederson is projected to make around the same amount in free agency while providing better defense in the outfield corners. Still, it would be odd to see Schwarber getting NT’d.
Good article. However, I would add that if a team were to come asking about Heyward, I’d get out of that contract as quickly as possible. It’s not likely, but possible.
As far as non-tendering Schwarber or Bryant, that would be a highly embarrassing move by the front office, allowing it to get this way and getting absolutely nothing in return. If either goes like that, Theo and Jed should follow them out.
I agree TJ. They waited too long to plan what they were going to do with these guys
Exactly. They lived in 2016 for about 3 years too long
I don’t expect the Cubs to NT either Schwarber or Bryant. I think Theo will gear up for one more run before he leaves, so I expect the Cubs to be aggressive, especially for players seeking one-year deals. If they find themselves out of it by mid-season (unlikely), then there could be a major sell-off, but I’d expect both to be there on Opening Day.
I strongly doubt either player will be non-tendered, however I do believe at least one of them will be traded.
I do think the majority of GM’s would take a chance on Kris Bryant at 18.9 million dollars but I don’t think a GM would take chance on Bryant at 18.9 million plus a top prospect. If I was Theo, I would either A.) strongly consider paying down Bryant’s figure to get a good prospect(s) in return or B.) trading Rizzo instead if he is worried about his back enough to not extend or re-sign him.
Schwarber I think teams would be interested in at 8 million, again though, I would pay his salary down to get a better prospect package.
I personally think some sly moves can greatly improve the team for not a huge cost. I’m thinking about signing Tommy LaStella and Kolton Wong to improve the contact on this team and in Wong’s case, defense up the middle. You’re only looking at 16 million total invested in those two, then, if I keep the “core” in place, moving Bryant to LF, Schwarber traded, and use the rest of the money to sign a guy like JA Happ and a reliever or two.
Also, if I trade Rizzo, I’m making Carlos Santana priority number one.
If you trade Rizzo you might as well start the fire sale now. That would be worse than trading LeMahieu and Glayber 3 times over and over. Rizzo is the face of the franchise. The Priority for him is to extend him with a no trade clause. He’s only 30 and won’t be 31 until August 8th. Carlos Santana isn’t half the player Rizzo is especially on defense. He’s a DH anyway. So why would the cubs want to get worse at 1st.
They’re not going to trade Rizzo, but I can see them trading Bryant.
You look at things WAY too much as a fan and apparently you didn’t read the entire post or consider Rizzo’s past and recurring back issues.
Talk, talk, talk Theo. Time to actually trade somebody.
True. The Cubs have lied about improving the team the last several off seasons. They have been coasting for years.
They did just win the NL Central with those guys severely underperforming. What if they regress to the means and become weapons again? They still need pitching, but it’s not like they are a dumpster fire.
Technically you’re correct but he’s correct about the last two years I’d say. They shipped out most of the talent in their system and spent to the max making improving incredibly difficult. It just hasn’t been what fans expected after 2016. Never thought they’d lose the central in this span and expected at least one more solid WS run
The Cubs are stuck and will not be able to trade any of their bad contracts unless they agree to take back a bad contract in return, or attach another good player as part of the package. For example, they could trade Heyward and Darvish together, or Schwarber & Hendricks together for a decent young SP and some good prospects, but that will all but destroy their chances of competing in 2021. The best bet might be to stand pat in 2021, add a few low cost RPs & SPs and see how they are doing come the trade deadline.
Hendricks is their best pitcher. He just signed an extension. If you trade him or Yu. You might as well back up the bus and have a fire sale. They’re not in a rebuild state. Not even close. They need to add a starter not subtract them. The only players they will likely trade is Schwarber and Bryant. Despite what the talking heads say. They can still get a decent return for both. 2 players minimum for each. Personallyj I think Schwarber will leave anyway. I think he goes to Cleveland. He’s done nothing but crush in Ohio. And he’s from there too. Not right in Cleveland but close enough. They need a LF. He can DH as well.
I’ll never get why people discredit his defense so much. 4 and.half years. He has 13 errors. Why is that a liability in the field. 2019 he led the league in OF assists.
The Cubs really only have one “bad contract” and that is Kimbrel. The problem is however they have a lot of guys who are making big paychecks.
The only other contract you can point to as being “bad” is Heyward. J-Hey’s contract isn’t great but it’s not awful, I personally think it was more forward thinking and plays a bigger impact on team success than people realize. In todays game, which is all about slugging percentage, Heyward’s defense is insanely valuable. His routes, his arm, his ability take extra base hits, IMO, is not measurable. Watching him play, no one tests his arm and his routes, putting himself in perfect receiving position, nullifies more extra base hits than people realize.
I would love to see Bryant and Darvish packaged together. I think the Mets and Angels are a possible match. Darvish’s value will never be higher, though I don’t know which teams are on his partial no-trade list. I could also see a Bryant trade to the Tigers for Boyd (if the Tigers are thinking about pushing for contention in the AL Central with all that young pitching).
For the Mets I would sign Jeffress and also try to trade for W.Contreras maybe Matz,Ali Sanchez and a minor leaguer. Forget Realmuto, too much $$ and wants too many years not good for a catcher.
That won’t you Contreras.
Wouldn’t even get Caratini for that.
If the added Matt Allan and Bret Baty and dropped Sanchez it wouldn’t be a bad trade but only if they decided to rebuild in 2021 which I don’t see them doing.
Contreas is the best catcher in baseball. They should absolutely not trade him. That’s just dumb.
You want Contreras? Great! It’s going to cost Jeff McNeil just to get the conversation started.
The Cubs are pinned in. I don’t expect anyone of note to come or go this off-season. Their cost controlled rentals had a down year in 2020 and the ones who performed to standard they either want to keep or have contracts that would make moving them difficult to deal for any significant return. The hopes of making it over the hump comes down to the players currently on the roster. The continued improvement from guys like Darvish/Heyward with the bounce back of Bryant/Rizzo is the only path I see here. Four years ago I saw the makings of a dynasty. Not only did I think they would own the central I thought they’d win at least 2 or 3 WS. They won it with young controllable talent I could only see them getting better and better. You can thank Theo because he broke the curse or whatever nostalgia you want to associate him with but the way I see it a total tank job won the title in 2016 and during 2016 and since it’s been a total mismanagement of prospects and funds. The Cubs had so much talent on the roster and in the system you have to scratch your head and wonder where did it all go? They are left with a good not great team that has a maxed out budget with top tier young talent in other organizations. I see no other option than to stick with what they have and hope for better results and rebuild after 2021. They don’t have assets to get better and what they have won’t fetch a big enough return to make a huge impact. Perhaps it all comes together or if it doesn’t I could see a a couple guys putting together big seasons and bring their trade value back up.
One of the biggest issues the Cubs have faced is the inability to develop their own pitching. Epstein has drafted 124 pitchers in eight drafts, and ony seven have made the majors. When their farm system was depleted after trading away Gleyber, Eloy, Cease, they only had Jose Quintana to show for it by 2018. Sure while Hendricks, Lester and Q made a solid three, none are true aces, and had to supplement that with big moves in free agency. Though the Darvish contract isn’t looking so bad anymore, Kimbrel and Chatwood are definitley ones that Epstein would probably like a do-over with. But with guys like Kimbrel and Chatwood on the payroll, it makes it hard for them to keep around the bats they did develop.
The Darvish contract was never bad. Kinbrel yes. Chatwood was solid the last two years. His first was awful as Cubs fans called him chatwalk.
I personally believe that Theo Epstein’ legacy will take a great hit because of their inability to draft and develop players. With the exception of a small handful in his time with the Cubs. Epstein in his 1st press conference said his goal is to draft and develop waves of players for the Cubs. He failed.
I get the business side of baseball, but this article detailing a massive fire sale really is a low blow to fans. Ouch. I might have to go cry a little.
The Ricketts fired Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein after the 2018 wild card playoff loss.
They told Maddon how to manage and ceased funding Epstein’s free-agent chases, particularly Bryce Harper. They figured both would quit. However, since both had contracts – they would not quit. Why pass up the loot?
Once Epstein moves on, we will see what the Ricketts have in mind in 2022 – sell out, find a management you like better but run efficiently (most likely), or go for another 2016 home run with lavish spending and big name officials.
The Cubs refused to give up Schwerber in the Chapman trade any chance Yankees can try again
I think Glayber for Chapman straight up was just fine. The cubs could have got more but 1 for 1 deal was perfect. Yes the cubs threw un 3 players. Other than Warren the other two won’t make the ML level.
The cubs didn’t fire maddon. It was a mutual decision to move on. His contract was up anyway. They just didn’t extend him. That’s not being fired. AJ Hinch and Alex Cora also mutually agreed to part ways but they had 2 years left on their contract. That’s being fired
The Cubs are certainly at a crossroads. They could bring everyone back for one more year in 2021, knowing fully well they cannot resign everyone (Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, and Contreras) long-term and hope to have any financial flexibility, while at the same time they cannot seriously believe they are currently better than the Dodgers, Braves, or Padres. They clearly are probably the fourth best team in the NL (maybe also behind the Mets and Cardinals??), while at the same time the playoffs are unpredictable, so just getting to the playoffs and getting hot at the right time can lead to a deep playoff run.
I would look to package Bryant in a deal with Darvish, maybe to the Mets or Angels (could prove really good fits from a competitive-window standpoint, especially with Cohen the new owner in NYC). Bryant and Darvish to NY Mets for Mauricio, Allan, Ginn, and J.D. Davis (maybe a little more even). I would prefer a deal to the Angels, sending Bryant and Darvish, while getting back Marsh, Detmers, and Kochanowicz (possibly a little more). Cubs get another $40 million off the books, which can be used to a get bunch of one-year to two-year deals for La Stella, Jackie Bradley, Hand, Paxton, Quintana, and Archer, etc. (maybe different names). Can get even more off the books with non-tendering Schwarber.
This would position the team to get additional Minor League talent into the system, shedding salary for possibly a big 2021-22 offseason where they could resign Baez (if he regains pre-2020 form), sign Lindor, Syndergaard, Verlander, longer deal for Rizzo, etc.
I would use 2020 as a retool year, getting what you can for some of the players on the roster, while keeping others (Happ, Baez, Rizzo, Contreras, Hendricks), building towards a better team in 2022 and beyond. The current roster just has not gotten over the hump in the last four years. Doing nothing with the roster and expecting different results is the definition of insanity!!
Contreras has 2 year left of control.
Baez and Rizzo are absolutely must extensions
Schwarber and Bryant unfortunately will be traded this winter.
Yu is not going to waive his no trade. Hendricks and Yu are their best pitchers. They need more starters not less.
Rizzo is their best player. Why trade him? The way you’re taking them in the crossroads of a rebuild is you saying they should fire sale.
Hendricks was just extended why trade him.
Doubt they’ll non tender Schwarber. That would be dumb. They’ll trade him for pitching. Get back 2 maybe 3 players back. 1 ML ready pitcher. 2 lower end prospects with high ceilings.
KB can bring in 3 players as well.
With Rizzo, the Cubs medical staff know more about his back than we do… I’m thinking there is a reason the Cubs have not been in contact with him about an extension and if he isn’t in the long term future plans I would trade him and sign Santana. Rizzo is going to bring in the biggest haul next to Contreras but like you, I would like to extend Wilco.
Hendricks you do not trade, nor Darvish unless you are blown away by an offer. I’m not sure his No Trade status, I’ve read full no trade protection and I’ve read limited no trade protection but when you see Bauer going to make 30 million (probably), Darvish is a steal at 22.5.
You need to pump your breaks on your expected haul for Schwarber and Bryant. Odds are the trade package the Cubs will receive is going to be considered disappointing. But then again, fans were disappointed with the middling prospect we got for Ryan Dempster also but were ecstatic for what Garza brought back…. Yeah Dempster got us Kyle Hendricks and no one from the Garza trade is still on the Cubs (Neil Ramirez, Mike Olt, Carl Edwards Jr. Justin Grimm). However, with that said, Edwards and Grimm were important pawns in the World Series Championship.
Any team could have picked up Brand Hand, one of the best relievers in the game, for $10 million and no trade assets going to the Indians. Every team passed. That is an indicator early in this market. Nobody is going to trade anything for Schwarber. He’s a non-tender candidate or a simply a salary dump.
I don’t support a fire-sale. Rizzo and Baez are under contract, and I would extend them both. Keep Contreras and look for an extension (he has two years of control). Heyward will be back for three years, and I would not trade Happ. These assets should all, in my view, be kept.
I would trade Bryant for whatever value you can get, as he’ll need to be paid $20 million. His performance has consistently diminished, and I think they should dump him, getting as much value as possibly and sign La Stella (3B) and Bradley (CF), improving defense and contact.
Also, Darvish’s value will never be higher. He has only a partial no-trade clause. After 2021, the Cubs are going to drop off a table in terms of talent (Rizzo, Baez, Schwarber, and Bryant hit free agency), and I think they should address their long-term organizational and roster issues.
I think there is more to Brad Hand than what we know and I’m just waiting to hear it. I cannot see all 30 teams saying no to Hand at 10 million dollars. Not when Robbie Ray signed for 8 million, Kevin Gusman got a QO extended to him and so did Marcus Stroman after sitting out an entire year.
As far as Schwarber is concerned, advanced analytics suggest he should have had a much better season and was a casualty of bad luck. His hard hit percentage, barrel rate, exit velocity were all very solid, his expected OBP was 60 points higher and his expected BA was 40 points.
Do the Cubs have a shot at Snell?