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August 2014

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COMMENTS

2015 Free Agent Pitchers: My Quick Take

Written by , Posted in General

I think the Cubs signed Jon Lester this week…at least that’s what I heard? No really, apparently his “friends” expect him to sign with the Cubs. I am not sure which of his friends said this or even how many friends Jon Lester has. I have a lot of friends…many of whom I am not sure I would label as “friends” more like “acquaintances” or even “potential acquaintance”.   Hopefully these were some of the closest friendliest friendly friends that Mr. Lester has. I just imagine this: Jon Lester’s cousins’ friends’ sister said she saw Jon at 31 Flavors last night; and she said she heard Jon say he is most definitely possibly considering thinking about the idea of signing with the Cubs.

All rumors from “friends” aside (and the cast of Friends), the Cubs will have money to spend, and Lester could be a prime target. If you want to see a FULL list of potential free-agents…I would advise against looking at it. It’s a bit like going through your grandparents attic…you will find some valuable things…but much of it is worthless and smelly. So, I did the digging for us…and I will list some potential Cubs’ targets. I will examine the possibility of that player becoming a Cub, and add my own take/opinion. I decided to focus on pitchers this week, because we all know the Cubs’ are totally set at ALL other positions forever!(seriously, I may tackle other needs later)

JON LESTER

I am going to have to disagree with Jon’s friends; I am not sure I see it happening. If he would sign a contract similar to what Cole Hamels has left on his deal (4 years at $90M plus) then the Cubs will be in. If it takes a 6-7 year deal…I wouldn’t blame the Cubs’ for passing. I will give this a POSSIBLE. 4 for 100(maybe)… 5 for 125(pushing it)…6 for 150(no thanks)

MAX SCHERZER

If it’s true that Scherzer turned down a 6 year $144 M deal during the offseason…I see no way Cubs top that. If they pass, it’s not because they are cheap…I just think without a warranty guarantee on his velocity…it would be a really bad signing. I give this signing a chance of NO WAY. Some team is going to over pay…and they may be stuck with a Justin Verlander type contract…without the benefit of Kate Upton being around.

JAMES SHIELDS

Shields has been a consistent starter for the past for seasons. Shields will be 33 on Opening Day 2015 and unless he goes to the Roger Clemens’ Fountain/Pharmacy of Youth (…hey, I worked that one in again!) he is not going to improve. Never underestimate the AL to NL benefit though…Shields could be dominant for a year or two in the NL. I give it a chance of SLIGHTLY POSSIBLE, but with most of the guys in this group it will all come down to the length of the deal.

JUSTIN MASTERSON

Masterson’s has a history with Theo and Jed; therefore this is definitely POSSIBLE. I hate to rely on my fantasy baseball experience here…but I would say, please GOD NO! The Cardinals (the smartest baseball organization in the history of the universe)…are finding out that his velocity is down, and his “rockings” are up…way up. Masterson is currently sporting a 5.94 ERA this season, and 11.25 for the Cards. (Geez…that’s too bad) He may yet turn it around this season, but he is maddeningly inconsistent….and he is murder on your fantasy team’s ERA.

JORGE DE LA ROSA

If you are a Simpsons’ fan like me; when you see his name you may think of Santos De Los Halpos. If the pitching market doesn’t go completely crazy (not bloody likely), De La Rosa is a lefty who could benefit from playing somewhere not named Coors Field. De La Rosa has put up pretty decent numbers including an ERA plus of 126; for non-Saber types, this adjusts for his ball park and 100 is considered league average…so De La Rosa has been good again this year. He will be 34 next season, so a 3 year deal would probably be max. POSSIBLE

SCOTT FELDMAN

Maybe we can sign him to a one year deal, and then flip….oh yeah.

JOSH BECKETT

I am highly in favor of the Cubs signing Josh Beckett…as long as they have a time machine and get the 2003 version of Josh. NO CHANCE

JASON HAMMEL

Whenever players get traded away midseason…there are usually people who say “They can sign him over the winter anyway”….the problem is, it almost NEVER happens. However, I would not dismiss the possibility with Hammel. Hammel found his greatest success as a Cub, and a return to the NL on a reasonable 3 year deal (?)…and I would say SLIGHTLY MORE THAN POSSIBLE.

FRANCISCO LIRIANO?

MLB Trade Rumors does not list him as a free agent, but Baseball Reference does…I am saying he is…and if he is, I want him. His injury history may deflate his price, and he will only be 31 next season. If anybody out there could settle this for me, I would greatly appreciate it…Free Agent or Not? Assuming he is, I would still put him as DOUBTFUL due to teams that will overpay. Full disclosure, I watched him pitch the other night and I was just drooling over the way his change-up was diving away from righties and he was hitting 95 on the gun…that was just one outing…so I probably shouldn’t ever be a scout.

BRANDON MCCARTHY

While not the sexiest name on the list, he has been pitching really well since being traded to the Yankees. McCarthy will be 32 next season, and peripheral numbers outshine his traditional baseball stats. Example: McCarthy’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) has been much lower than his ERA, the last 4 seasons…meaning he has pitched better than his ERA suggests. I could see the Cubs taking a “flyer” on McCarthy if he remains unsigned close to spring training, but otherwise…I say HIGHLY DOUBTFUL.

There are too many variables for one to accurately predict if the Cubs will wind up with any of these arms…but just for the fun of it…I will complete a quick wish list, then I am interested to hear what you have to say. Mine would be

  1. Lester 2. Liriano   3. Shields  4. De La Rosa   5.Hammel

I have already mentally prepared myself for the possibility of the Cubs getting NONE of these guys. Oh, and before we get your opinion…here are the guys I deemed not good enough to include:

Kevin Correia, Chris Capuano, Gavin Floyd, Aaron Harang, Roberto Hernandez, Josh Johnson, John Lannan, Colby Lewis, Paul Maholm, Jake Peavy, Edinson Volquez, and Jerome(we had him like ten years ago) Williams

I told you there wasn’t much else to see on the list.

I did not include pitchers that have either a club or player option and are likely to remain with their current clubs.

  • PLCB3

    You’re a Simpsons nut!? Me too!! WOOHOO!

  • AC0000000

    You’re a Simpsons nut!? Me too!! WOOHOO!

  • Mark_from_Toronto

    Nice to see the Ferris Bueller reference off the top, truly a classic movie! Hopefully the Cubs make some effective moves this offseason and don’t up like Ed Rooney at the end of that movie.
    Realistically, I can see them going after De La Rosa and while Lester would be a great addition, I don’t see him taking a short enough contract like you mentioned. Hammel has really struggled since going over to Oakland so perhaps he could be had on the cheap as well. I still keep hearing about a potential Cole Hamels trade with the Phillies although last rumour I heard was that the Phils wanted Addison Russell in return.

    • BBCG: 105 Reasons

      Ahhh….got my Ferris reference…nice

    • Dork

      I thought that De La Rossa’s splits away from coors feild are really bad. Am I wrong on that?

  • Mark_from_Toronto

    Nice to see the Ferris Bueller reference off the top, truly a classic movie! Hopefully the Cubs make some effective moves this offseason and don’t end up like Ed Rooney at the end of that movie.
    Realistically, I can see them going after De La Rosa and while Lester would be a great addition, I don’t see him taking a short enough contract like you mentioned. Hammel has really struggled since going over to Oakland so perhaps he could be had on the cheap as well. I still keep hearing about a potential Cole Hamels trade with the Phillies although last rumour I heard was that the Phils wanted Addison Russell in return.

    • BBCG: 105 Reasons

      Ahhh….got my Ferris reference…nice

    • Dork

      I thought that De La Rossa’s splits away from coors feild are really bad. Am I wrong on that?

  • Noah_I

    I think the Cubs end up with Lester for somewhere between 6/$130 million and 7/$150 million, then sign one of the next tier guys. I actually put the odds of the Cubs signing a McCarthy significantly higher than you do, and those are my two guesses, with perhaps also a flyer on Josh Johnson getting healthy.

    • Doug S.

      I clearly do not understand the need to pay this kind of $$$, but you guys are more informed than I am on the topic.

      • Kizzfastfists

        I think the Cubs are more likely to trade for a pitcher like Hamels then to give Lester 6+ years. It ends up being a question of how much does the end of that contract actually cost you? You know Hamels should maintain his value through the rest of his contract. Anything after 5 years on Lester will probably have significant negative value.

        There is also a chance the Reds could try to trade Latos or Cueto this off-season. The Mets have a lot of young pitching and could try to trade some for some young position players. A lot of options that don’t include signing a pitcher until they are 37+.

      • Noah_I

        The question for the Cubs in trading for someone like Hamels is how much is that player worth in prospect PLUS the cost of the salary? The Cubs would only have to give up money for Lester. Latos or Cueto don’t really change the equation, as they’d require hefty extensions.

        I do like the idea of trading with the Mets, who have a surplus of talented young pitching but could use more offense. I’ve seen the idea of trading Castro for either Wheeler or Syndegaard, but with Russell not being ready until at least mid-2015, I don’t think it’s likely the Cubs will shop Castro until that point. The Cubs could also float Almora out there, but his value is at its lowest right now, and I don’t think you could get someone like Wheeler or Thor for him at this point.

  • Noah_I

    I think the Cubs end up with Lester for somewhere between 6/$130 million and 7/$150 million, then sign one of the next tier guys. I actually put the odds of the Cubs signing a McCarthy significantly higher than you do, and those are my two guesses, with perhaps also a flyer on Josh Johnson getting healthy.

    • Doug S.

      I clearly do not understand the need to pay this kind of $$$, but you guys are more informed than I am on the topic.

      • Kizzfastfists

        I think the Cubs are more likely to trade for a pitcher like Hamels then to give Lester 6+ years. It ends up being a question of how much does the end of that contract actually cost you? You know Hamels should maintain his value through the rest of his contract. Anything after 5 years on Lester will probably have significant negative value.

        There is also a chance the Reds could try to trade Latos or Cueto this off-season. The Mets have a lot of young pitching and could try to trade some for some young position players. A lot of options that don’t include signing a pitcher until they are 37+.

      • Noah_I

        The question for the Cubs in trading for someone like Hamels is how much is that player worth in prospect PLUS the cost of the salary? The Cubs would only have to give up money for Lester. Latos or Cueto don’t really change the equation, as they’d require hefty extensions.

        I do like the idea of trading with the Mets, who have a surplus of talented young pitching but could use more offense. I’ve seen the idea of trading Castro for either Wheeler or Syndegaard, but with Russell not being ready until at least mid-2015, I don’t think it’s likely the Cubs will shop Castro until that point. The Cubs could also float Almora out there, but his value is at its lowest right now, and I don’t think you could get someone like Wheeler or Thor for him at this point.

  • Doc Raker

    I am not a big fan of signing expensive pitchers to long term deals. Pitcher just don’t stay dominant for long periods of time, typically.

    • Dusty Baylor

      Doc, I think most of us would agree with you. I think I’d rather overpay a bit for Lester/Scherzer than trade 3 or 4 prospects for Hamels.
      While the Cubs have a good amount of pitching in the minors, contrary to popular belief, it’s mostly of the #3-#5 starter type. Not may Kershaws around as it is.

  • Doc Raker

    I am not a big fan of signing expensive pitchers to long term deals. Pitcher just don’t stay dominant for long periods of time, typically.

    • Dusty Baylor

      Doc, I think most of us would agree with you. I think I’d rather overpay a bit for Lester/Scherzer than trade 3 or 4 prospects for Hamels.
      While the Cubs have a good amount of pitching in the minors, contrary to popular belief, it’s mostly of the #3-#5 starter type. Not may Kershaws around as it is.

  • Dork

    How would you feel about a rotation that looks like this?
    Arietta
    Mccarthy or J Hammel
    Hendricks
    Turner
    Wood
    With Dubrant and Wada as depth.
    Obviously, Lester makes this better, but the above does not seem terrible to me.

    • cap’n realist

      Whereas I believe the above to be a serviceable rotation if they ALL are going well, this is not a rotation that could ever win a world series. I used to think that was the goal. We’ve been so terrible for the past 5 years, I guess everyone would be satisfied with eeking nto a wild card spot.

  • Dork

    How would you feel about a rotation that looks like this?
    Arietta
    Mccarthy or J Hammel
    Hendricks
    Turner
    Wood
    With Dubrant and Wada as depth.
    Obviously, Lester makes this better, but the above does not seem terrible to me.

    • cap’n realist

      Whereas I believe the above to be a serviceable rotation if they ALL are going well, this is not a rotation that could ever win a world series. I used to think that was the goal. We’ve been so terrible for the past 5 years, I guess everyone would be satisfied with eeking nto a wild card spot.