That’s right. The Chicago Cubs are the apple in every team’s eye all across baseball. A top 5-10 minor league system depending on the publication, the best record through 30 games in the national league in nearly 40 years, and 4.2 WARP combined in the first month-and-a-half of the season for 3 guys(Rizzo, Bryant, and Russell) who will make a combined 6.42 million this season. Projected out that is 22.7 WARP THIS SEASON for less than the cost to buy ONE WARP on the free agent market. Yeap, it’s true. Every team wishes they were the Chicago Cubs organization.
How’s that for a changed narrative?
With the ensemble of talent that has been drafted, acquired, signed, or otherwise developed over the last 4-5 seasons the question continues to be asked:
Where are they all going to play?
The simplest answer to that question is this:
All of these players will have a place to play in the major leagues, however it may not be in Chicago.
The Cubs fanbase collectively have become geniuses over the last 5 seasons. Don’t believe me? Just ask them. Talk to most of them about advanced analytics in baseball and you may find yourself in a lecture about why FIP and xFIP are not as significant as SIERA and why comparing pitchers based on their ERA is laughable. (Yes, I am one of those A-Holes, too)
The problem with the adoption of grasping advanced metrics from nearly the entire Cubs fanbase is that now many of them do not understand the need for asset-reallocation. Or in layman terms, TRADING PLAYERS.
If Theo Epstein were not running circles around the other executives in the major leagues he would likely be operating his own hedge-fund on Wall Street. Theo Epstein undoubtedly understands the importance of asset-reallocation.
In investing, asset- reallocation can be simply explained as when you sell certain assets in which you own an abundance to purchase assets in which you do not own as much. So, if I owned 20,000 shares of Apple Stock and 10,000 shares of Facebook stock then I am very much entrenched in the tech stock industry. Even if my portfolio is performing admirably, it may be wise to sell some of the tech stocks and purchase some coca-cola stock to balance out my portfolio a little bit. I still reap the rewards of the tech stock industry gains, but I also position myself with a more balanced portfolio.
This is what is about to happen right now with Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs. There is no doubt they have a terrific organization from top-to-bottom, but Chicago has an ENORMOUS amount of “stock” in cost-controlled offensive position players.
While the Cubs pitching has no doubt been elite this season as they either lead the MLB or are in the top 5 for key stats such as Batting Average Against, Quality Starts, and ERA; don’t be mistaken, this is where the Cubs need to “allocate some assets” towards.
What does that mean, exactly?
Well, first it means there are some players that fans have grown attached to that they may need to be open to losing. Prospects such as Gleyber Torres, Ian Happ, and Eloy Jimenez come to mind. Major League talent such as Jorge Soler, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez jump out as well.
Now not all of these players or prospects will be moved, but trust me when I say that MORE THAN ONE most definitely will.
The reason for this is because the Chicago Cubs, while having an elite pitching staff now, are realistically less than 2 seasons from being a complete mystery in terms of big-league pitching. They do have some prospects in the lower-levels that could turn out to be top-of-rotation guys such as Dylan Cease or Bryan Hudson. However, it is way too early to truly assess where they will end up at in terms of the big leagues and when that may be.
The 2017 rotation will likely mirror that of the 2016 rotation. In 2018, however, things get scary.
Gone for sure is John Lackey and Jason Hammel. Hammel’s option will no doubt be picked up this offseason, but entering 2018 as a 35 year old the Cubs will likely be okay with parting ways with Hammel. Lackey will be 39 in 2018 and if he decides to continue to pitch as opposed to retire, believe me when I tell you it will not be with the Chicago Cubs. Then comes Jake Arrieta.
Guys and Gals, let me be clear here. I love Jake Arrieta. Loved him the MOMENT we traded for him, before he exploded. I ordained him as the greatest pitcher in Chicago(and in the bigs) here and over thanksgiving spoke about him being the best trade in Cubs history here. I think he is the type of athlete that, with his conditioning and diet, will age extremely well performance wise.I believe that Jake Arrieta will be very good for a very long time.
That said, I do NOT want the Cubs to sign a 32-year old pitcher to a 7+ year contract that will cost 220+ million dollars into the year 2025 when the Cubs ALREADY HAVE Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Addison Russell they will need to be paying long term deals to by the year 2021. Jake Arrieta’s contract does not match up with the Cubs long-term plans timing wise. It’s as simple as that.
However, there ARE pitchers out there that have contracts that line up PERFECTLY with the Cubs long term plans.
Those pitchers names include: Sonny Gray(Arb-eligible through 2019), Carlos Carrasco(signed through 2020 for a TOTAL of 37.5 million), Danny Salazar(arb-eligible through 2020), Chris Archer(signed through 2021 including team options for less than 50 million), and Jake Odorizzi(arb-eligible through 2019). **Source: Spotrac
These pitchers all match-up with a 4-6 year window for the Cubs in which our core position players(Rizzo, Bryant, and Russell) are all under team control and in their prime. It would guarantee a 1-2 punch, for example, of Carrasco and Lester or Lester and Odorizzi through at least 2019 as Bryant and Russell are actually entering their prime seasons next to Rizzo and, hopefully, Heyward.
Theo Epstein has always talked about trying to build teams with the idea of having as many opportunities to get into the playoffs as possible. That is what these moves are.
To extend the championship window the Cubs HAVE to be willing to move position players. Luckily for us, Theo Epstein has been transparent in saying how he plans on managing the roster as the Cubs compete. Those statements match up with a desire to look into moving some of his current crop of major league, controllable talent to extend championship windows.
I know it is painful for fans, but the Cubs will be trading very popular players in the years to come. Likely as early as this seasons trade deadline.
The great news is we have the best in the biz doing the wheeling and dealing.