All the reports throughout the day on Thursday indicated that the Rangers were “aggressively pursuing” Tyson Ross and that the recovering righty was meeting with the team. While Texas already has a de facto starting five in place, there’s always room for a potential difference-maker in the rotation. Same goes for the Cubs. I’ve been pretty confident throughout this process that Ross would end up in Chicago, but I must admit to having that confidence shaken significantly by the recent updates.
A note I caught just before going to sleep on my now-besmirched MyPillow, however, got me feeling a little brighter.
Source: Before visiting the Texas Rangers today, Tyson Ross met with the Chicago Cubs. They are the two favorites to sign the right-hander.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 5, 2017
Because both the Rangers and Cubs can fill out rotations sans Ross, he wouldn’t have all kinds of pressure to rush back and be an ace-type pitcher right away for either team. And neither organization has been shy about paying players (Ross is reportedly looking for $9-11 million AAV). Because that’s a relatively low price tag in today’s MLB economy, the deciding factor for the former All-Star will likely come down to preferences.
From the time he was non-tendered by the Padres, the chatter has been that Ross is looking for a one-year deal with incentives. That seems like a gamble for a guy coming off of the same thoracic outlet surgery that has ended or damaged the careers of other pitchers, though Ross is young enough (he turns 30 in April) to buck the trend. As such, he might be willing to bet on his arm being back to full strength in 2017, which he could parlay into a huge multi-year deal in 2018.
There’s also the matter of environment, both in terms of the weather and the clubhouse. There’s no doubt Chicago has assembled a pretty fun group of individuals, and the Cubs — at least on paper — give Ross the best opportunity to win a title. On the other hand, the lifelong Californian might be more amenable to the warmer climes of North Texas than the frigid temps of the North Side of Chicago. Of course, it’s not like he’ll need to winter in Illinois.
All things considered, I have to believe the Cubs will land Ross if they really want him. Is that arrogant? Probably. But since really turning their strategy toward competing, they’ve established a pretty solid track record when it comes to coveted free agents. Their comfort level and desire for the big starter will likely be tied to his contract demands, though, as the potential losses of John Lackey and Jake Arrieta next season make a one-year deal for Ross kinda silly. Unless they have club options, that is.
You get the sense that this matter is nearing its conclusion, which could make for a nice announcement when Cubs Convention opens next Friday.