“We will look to add multiple starting pitchers at various levels of the organization. That’s the best way to say it.” ~ Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer
There’s a lot to bite off in this statement.
It could point to the Cubs signing a free agent SP for the majors. It could also point to trading for one or two. In addition, it could point to the Cubs stocking the minors with several young international free agents on the market as well. Epstein, Hoyer, and Company have been pretty transparent in their aspirations for talent acquisition. They have pretty much followed through on what they have said.
The MLB free agent market opened at midnight last night. And no, the Cubs did not sign David Price, even though they might be considered favorites. On the other hand, I don’t think the Cubs are in that race to sign him. I think his price tag of at least 7 years and $200+ million is out of the Cubs’ league.
I think the Cubs could still go out and get several pitchers this offseason. They could sign one mid range free agent pitcher for the back of the rotation. Then, the Cubs would likely make a trade for a front of the rotation starter who is still young and there are some controlling years with his contract.
I’d also the Cubs will stock up on more Cuban players. 24 year old Yasiel Sierra (who might be MLB ready now), 21 year old Vladimir Gutierrez, and 21 year old Norge Luis Ruiz, along with three young outfielders in Jorge Ona, Yusniel Diaz and the prodigy Lazaro Robersy Armenteros Arango aka Lazarito, only 16 years old, are the most well-known free agents still available this winter. Only Sierra would be exempt from a dollar for dollar signing penalty as the Cubs have exceeded their International Free Agent budget. That’s a hefty price tag to sign all. Maybe the Cubs could sign just one…or two….or three.
Add in the fact that Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda is now on the market. He’d likely slide into the number three spot in the rotation. His biggest adjustment would be from pitching every seven days to every five days.
It should be an interesting few weeks as the market shakes itself out to see what the Cubs will actually do
Another interesting aspect of the off-season began on Friday. Baseball America released its top 10 prospect list of the Cubs organization. It starts out with Gleyber Torres, followed by Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, Duane Underwood, Dylan Cease, Albert Almora, Billy McKinney, Oscar De La Cruz, Eloy Jimenez, and Jeimer Candelario. The list is noteworthy for its aggressive ranking of Oscar De La Cruz, and moving Contreras all the way up to 2 when he wasn’t even in the top 30 to begin the year.
Also noteworthy is who is not on the list. After three to four summers, Dan Vogebach, Pierce Johnson, and Carl Edwards, Jr. are gone. In the chat john Manuel explained that Johnson, Vogelbach, and Edwards have not lived up to their potential. He went on to explain how Johnson has had a poor showing in the fall league while Vogelbach has never reached the power that was envisioned in him. Manuel said this of Johnson:
“[I] talked to a scout who saw him recently in the Arizona Fall league, and it wasn’t pretty. The reports of the stuff have backed up and the durability has not improved.”
Here are a few key quotes I liked later in the chat
DJ Wilson, their 4th-round pick, could jump high into the top 10 if his workout tools translate into full-season production.
On Albert Almora…
Larry Young (Dallas Texas): With a lot of outfield prospects, which one excited you the most? Eloy Jimenez?
John Manuel: Honestly, I’d say Almora, because I think he’s starting to get it. I like my Aaron Rowand comp for his career going forward — grinder, good CF on defense, 6-hole hitter type, not a star but a solid-average regular, good teammate, glue guy, etc.
On Brad Markey…
He will make it, interesting guy, liked him as an amateur, think he has a shot as a reliever and might even start. Short, sharp breaking ball, I saw him up to 94 when he was at Va. Tech, and he’s pitched well as a pro. Pretty long track record too going back to Santa Fe (Fla.) CC. Nice sleeper.
With Bryant, Schwarber, Russell, and Baez now at the major league level, there is a lot of shaking out to do with Cubs prospects. The rapid rise of Willson Contreras is one example of what could happen. I think next year could also see pitcher Rob Zastryzny finally figure it out, at AAA no less. He is having a pretty good time in the Arizona Fall League, unlike Pierce Johnson, who seems to be struggling. I think Baseball America captured the beginning of what might going down in the minors.
Over the next two months, the focus on this site will be talent acquisition, the Rule 5 Draft, and some trades. But come January, we will be back with our updated top prospect list and minor league previews. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s organizational position review on shortstops.