I mentioned the other day that it was my goal to begin to discuss more related to the roster construction in the next week. That starts today with a look at where the current roster stands.
As it stands right now, the Cubs currently have seven guaranteed contracts on the books: Starlin Castro, Gerardo Concepcion, Kyuji Fujikawa, Edwin Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Solar, and Carlos Vilanueva. Aside from that, the roster is wide open from a flexibility standpoint.
Ten players are arbitration eligible, which means they can either work out a long term deal, work out a short or even one year deal, or take things before a judge to determine a one year deal. If none of those options are appealing, the team can simply part ways with them. The list of players eligible includes an estimated amount they would be due
- Pedro Strop
- Travis Wood
- Darwin Barney
- Daniel Bard
- Darnell McDonald
- Luis Valbuena
- James Russell
- Jeff Samardzija
- Donnie Murphy
- Nate Schierholtz
Looking at that list, I could easily see the Cubs simply parting ways with Darwin Barney, Daniel Bard, and Darnell McDonald. The rest will be back with this team next year and most if not all will be back on a one year deal. The wild card is Samardzija. I have no idea what his future is with this team, but I would lay even odds on if he’s a part of it on opening day.
The list of players is not incredibly long right now so there is a lot of room for growth. We’ll get into possibilities I see in the coming days, until then, our friends over at Inside the ‘Zona have a post going up today talking about Samardzija. As of this writing, it’s not posted, so you get a sneak peak. Be sure to stop by their site later today and say hello and give feedback.
Trade with Chicago Cubs: LHP Tyler Skaggs, C Stryker Trahan, SS Nick Ahmed, and RHP Zeke Spruill for RHP Jeff Samardzija
This trade is not so much of a leap because of the rumored conversations this year at the deadline and again recently. The sticking point in negotiations over the summer is said to have been Archie Bradley; we don’t want Bradley moved in a Samardzija trade, and we don’t think Towers will actually do that. But Chicago will certainly want prospects back. Would they take Matt Davidson? Doubtful; they have Kris Bryant as a long term answer, as well as Mike Olt, who was acquired over the summer from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade (and who loses a lot of his value if he’s moved off third base). Complicating matters at third even more is that former top prospect Josh Vitters is still banging around, that Chicago may want to try out Mat Gamel this year, and that top shortstop prospect Javier Baez may need to get moved to the hot corner eventually.
Baez is also a reason why Chicago may be unwilling to cash out some of Samardzija’s value in the form of Owings, especially with Starlin Castro installed at short for the foreseeable future. Still, we think Nick Ahmed may be a fit, because he’s certainly going to stick at SS (his manager at Mobile recently said Ahmed was one of the best shortstops he’d ever seen), he’s priced appropriately in this trade, and Ahmed’s floor might be as a utility infielder (which is still helpful).
Chicago is also set in the long term in the outfield, at least with good defenders who might not have the bat to match (probably ruling out A.J. Pollock). We do think that Adam Eaton is the type of player Theo Epstein is likely to covet – that may be why we’re hearing the name Nate Schierholtz (as part of a swap for Samardzija that includes Eaton, we’re guessing).
We prefer trading Pollock to St. Louis to trading Eaton to Chicago, however, and in Tyler Skaggs the D-backs may have a way to keep Eaton while still landing Samardzija. Skaggs’s star has fallen since mechanical issues (staying too tall) hurt his command and velocity this season; the risk that he never gets fixed does discount his value, but in the trade above Arizona would still be getting about 75 cents on the dollar. Stryker Trahan helps Chicago get to where they want in terms of value, although he is several years away from the majors. Zeke Spruill may not add a lot to this trade, but as roster filler with a bit of upside, Chicago could try him out in a few different roles until they figure out what they have.