So we are finally here. The Winter Meetings will kick off tomorrow in Nashville, TN as GMs, Executives, players, agents, and entourages will strap on some boots, try on their favorite cowboy hat, swig back a little moonshine, and kick back to some country music as they all try wheel, deal, borrow, and steal their way to a lucrative contract and a chance at playing for the World Series in 2016.

At least that’s the way I envision it. 

It may seem as if some of the “pizazz” is gone with big name free agent pitchers David Price and Zack Greinke already agreeing to terms with the Red Sox and Diamondbacks ahead of the meetings while the Cubs inked John Lackey. The reality, however, is that the fun has only just begun. 

We here at CubsChat.com have covered multiple scenarios  the Cubs may utilize to improve the ballclub with an eye towards the World Series. We’ve examined trade options, analyzed veteran player swaps between teams with different needs, we have looked at potential bargain deals that may be available, and even touched on what our perfect winter would look like. 

All the while the Free agent market has exploded and as revenues continue to pour in to baseball like a chocolate river at Willy Wonkas mansion, no body knows exactly how much it’s going to cost to sit at the table in Nashville to potentially sway one of the ultimate prizes still available in free agency to join the ballclub. 

So enough analyzing. Enough guessing. It’s time to go out on a limb. Here are my 3 predictions for what WILL take place for the Cubs in Nashville beginning tomorrow. 

  • CUBS WILL TRADE SOLER, CASTRO, and MONTERO

In different deals, obviously. However, I believe the Cubs are working hard on unloading some salary to make a splash. I can see Soler being moved in the highly discussed trade for a mid-rotation pitcher. I like Castro, but reality is the best time to move him was last offseason and the Cubs squandered that opportunity. They won’t make that mistake again after he rebuilt some of his value in August and September.

Montero is the wildcard. I thought there was no way he would be moved because of how the Cubs catching situation looked and because of the money he is owed. Im hearing the Cubs are working hard on unloading Montero, however. Perhaps they believe Wilspn Contreras or Schwarber are closer to taking over full time duties than originally thought.  

They will need to send a prospect along with Montero to get a team to take back some salary, but I could see Montero included in a deal brings back a reliever or simply unloads his contract onto a team like the Angels who could use a little more balance from the left side of the plate. 

If the Cubs can unload both Castro and Montero, they’ll be in play to make a big splash.

  • CUBS WILL MAKE A TRADE FOR CARLOS CARRASCO

Call this wishful thinking on my part. The latest report is that the Indians do not want to move Carrasco, but you have to take everything with a grain of salt this time of year. 

The Indians had a need in the OF to begin the offseason and that need only grew with the injury of Michael Brantley. Soler gives them their RF of the future under team control through 2020. It’s only an added bonus for me that with Cleveland he could potentially wreak havoc on the White Sox, as well.

Carrasco will cost more than just Soler, but he is worth it. As I have discussed at length here, he is 28, had low-mileage on his arm, and his peripherals suggest he will continue to excel. In the NL, I think he could be a 5.5-6 WARP next season. Essentially giving the Cubs three aces.

It may take a move of Soler, McKinney, Candelario, and Edwards to get it done. But controlled through 2020 at 40 million dollars, Carrasco gives the Cubs plenty of options financially moving forward and could just as likely be our top starter next season as Arrieta. He’s that good in my opinion. By making a move to lock up a potential frontline starter for 4 years and less than 40 million total and moving Montero and Castro, the Cubs set themselves up for my final prediction.

  • CUBS SIGN JASON HEYWARD TO 7 YEAR, 210 MILLION DOLLAR DEAL

I know. It’s a lot of money. A LOT OF MONEY. That’s why the Cubs need to move two players to set it up. 

But if you believe Jason Heyward entering his prime is going to continue to play at a top level, it’s a bargain. 

Heyward was worth nearly 28 WARP before entering his prime. As a lefty with elite defense and OBP skills that has increased his contact rate each season in the bigs, Heyward checks every box the front office laid out to improve the offense at Theos postseason press conference. 

Some would argue Heywards not a true CF, but his stats when he had played CF indicate he is above average defensively and that is while playing in Bush Stadium. He will be just fine in CF at Wrigley. 

He also would benefit from the “wind tunnel” that sometimes materializes in the right-centerfield gap. He hit 27 homeruns for the Braves in 2012 so the power is there, but even without it Heyward is worth the money. 

I think Heyward will be an average 5.0-6.0 WARP over the course of his contract. Perhaps even battling for an MVP award. He has that kind of skill. Sign him, put him in the leadoff spot, and watch the Cubs lineup be nearly unstoppable. 

The money seems prohibitive, however as we indicated earlier today, Bryce Harper will likely sign a 350-400 million dollar deal in the next few years. The price for elite talent entering their prime on the free agent market is going to continue to skyrocket. By getting Heyward now, you likely have a player that is surplus value over his contract within 2 years. 

More importantly, by paying a little higher AAV in exchange for fewer years(7 as opposed to 10, as some insiders have indicated Heyward may get) the Cubs have him off the books following the 2022 season. 

That’s important on many levels. First of all, the Cubs TV Deal will be in full swing so resources and payroll will have a little more flexibility each season. Secondly, the Cubs will have had a lot of their core exiting arbitration during that timeframe. If the Cubs know they have 30 million coming off of the payroll in 2022, they will have the ability to extend or resign some of their current core players to major contracts because of how the timing works out.

That’s also another reason why it’s important to get Carrasco, so the Cubs are not in a position where they have to sign a 200 million dollar pitcher ahead of 2020 when the core players like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo will all be coming up on free agency or buying out remaining arbitration seasons.

So there it is. That is what I believe will happen in Nashville next week for the Cubs. A big-time trade, a big-time signing, and saying farewell to some familiar faces. 

What do you think will happen?

Tweet or post your predictions with the hashtag #cubswintermeetings and we will keep track throughout the week and be sure to give kudos in our daily wrap-ups to the posters who call their shots!