Latest on Cubs’ Pursuit of Pitching Reveals, Well, Very Little (But it’s All We’ve Got)
“GIVE US MOAR RUMERZ!” comes the bloodthirsty cry of the rabble. So I, desperate for something to slake that thirst, toss them the first thing I come across that resembles news. That information comes via Patrick Mooney’s maiden voyage with The Athletic, which offers a brief-but-comprehensive look (requisite subscription warning, followed by at-will plug that there are much worse things on which to spend a few bucks each month) at the Cubs’ ongoing search for all manner of pitching.
Before I get to that, let me first say how happy I am to have Mooney back on the Cubs beat. It’ll take a while to get used to reading his work without Jeff Vukovich’s mug smiling back at me from his Nationwide banner ads [Narrator: It won’t], but I think I’ll adjust eventually [He will]. I was really disappointed when Mooney fell victim to the fickle sickle of journalism/content production that has claimed too many others, so having him covering the Cubs after a brief hiatus is perfect.
Lucky for him, he got to jump back in during a time of seemingly unprecedented inactivity. If it was me, I’d have asked for another few days off, but Jon Greenberg is a real ball-buster who has roughly the same tolerance for slackers as Principal Strickland from Back to the Future. So Mooney did the best with what he had, and his effort was actually quite good.
Given the perpetual stone-turning we’ve done when it comes to Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, and Alex Cobb (hell, I even cited Jim Bowden for a recent post), it’s pretty admirable that a writer can come up with anything at all of note. And while Mooney isn’t exactly breaking anything by positing that the Cubs are keeping the lines of communication open between all three starters, his parenthetical asides still have enough meat on the bones to offer a starving man a small meal.
The first of those is that the Cubs have indeed evaluated Lance Lynn, who has been something of a forgotten man this winter. It’s obvious that Lynn isn’t a priority for Chicago, but just seeing his name mentioned is a change from what we’ve seen thus far. Regardless, I can’t see the former Cardinal as anything but an extreme fallback option in the event that the top three all land huge deals that exceed what the Cubs are willing to hand out.
While the differences as we are aware of them at this point come in the forms of both money and years, the latter may be the hardest to overcome. Where the starters are concerned, that is. Due to their volatility and usage, relief pitchers have neither the same asking prices nor the leverage of their more heavily-used brethren.
With several relievers already locked up, however, the top end of that market isn’t cheap. Mooney mentions Greg Holland as a possibility for the Cubs, but Wade Davis landing the highest AAV ever for a pitcher of his ilk doesn’t really bode well for teams looking to get the man he replaced at a discount. Missing from the piece in question is any mention of Addison Reed, who figures to be a possibility based on the direction the Cubs go for a starter.
Finally, there’s the idea of trading for Gerrit Cole or Chris Archer, neither of whom actually fits based on what their current teams want/need in return and what the Cubs have to offer. And that’s even considering that the Cubs have publicly stated a willingness to trade from their young core players at some point. As much as I know how much many of you out there hate the idea with a fiery passion, Javy Baez has been and still could be offered in the right deal.
Mooney concludes that “you can’t completely dismiss the possibility of Darvish coming to the North Side” and casts doubt on Arrieta’s return based on contractual demands, but then circles back to His Royal Beardness and his history in Chicago. It all comes down to exactly what our own Brendan Miller laid out when writing about the same topic, which is that the Cubs have patience to burn and are simply biding their time before striking big.