“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better.”
That was one of many soundbites from Cubs President of baseball operations Theo Epstein during his end of year press conference.
The Cubs fell short of making it back to the World Series, falling in the NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers. There are numerous holes on this Cubs roster that has to be addressed and that comes with sacrifice. Epstein spoke of getting better and “sacrificing depth at certain positions” to fill the holes on the roster. All in all, the Cubs are not going to sit on their hands this offseason. Moves have to be made if they want to make it back to the show.
After the conclusion of the season, the Cubs did not wait to make changes, replacing nearly the entire coaching staff. Longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio was fired and John Mallee, hitting coach since 2014, was dismissed. In comes Chili Davis, former hitting coach of the Red Sox, and Joe Maddon is reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey from their Rays days. While the former coaches were a big part of the Cubs recent success, sometimes change is needed. And the front office did not like what they saw this season and in the playoff and it sparked change. Do not be against it because it seemed to be needed.
Coaching changes may not be the only changes this offseason. With the World Series celebration and coverage coming to a close, it’s now all about free agency. Qualifying offers have been submitted to free agents and we are underway.
With the word changes assassinated with the Cubs, they have been in trade rumors the past few days. With Hickey coming from Tampa Bay, reports have surfaced that the Cubs are making a “serious run” at RHP Chris Archer and are willing to part with major league talent. Players such as Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber have been linked to these rumors.
First off, I think many Cubs fans have come to the sense that Jake Arrieta is not returning to the Cubs. The former CY winner does want the hometown discount and the Cubs are not going to over invest in Arrieta. As much as fans and the front office want him back, he is going to chase the biggest contract on the market and that is not going to be coming from the Cubs.
Archer, 29, has four more seasons of team control on his contract. While his numbers do not jump out at you, he would be an improvement to their starting rotation. The six year veteran posted his high strikeout total of his career in 2017.
Archer has been on inconsistent Rays team the past few seasons with lacking run support. Not only would he be reunited with his hitting coach, but would be coming to a Cubs team with a way better offense than in Tampa Bay. It also offers a fresh start and a big improvement for the Cubs behind Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana in the rotaion. Archer is no higher than a No. 4 starter in my opinion, but he could be a pretty good one in that in Chicago.
Other reports that surfaced on Tuesday were the San Francisco Giants have interest in 2017 Gold Glove winner Jason Heyward. According to Phil Roders of MLB.com, Giants have Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon to offer.
Heyward, who signed a eight-year, $184 million contract in December of 2015. The former Atlanta Brave and St. Louis Cardinal is an outstanding outfielder and brought power in his swing. But his first two years in Chicago have been disappointing at the plate, hitting just 18 home runs. The largest deal in Cubs history does not look so good as of now for the Cubs are primarily just paying Heyward for his glove. Yes Heyward delivered the rain delay speech and is a leader in the clubhouse but the Cubs may be looking to deal his hefty contract.
Looking at the rumor, the Cubs would bring back Samardzija who has struggled tremendously since being traded to the Athletics in 2014. Melancon, 32, signed a 4 year, $62 million with the Giants last offseason. It was a well deserved deal despite his struggles last season. Melancon also did have recent surgery for a pronator injury.
While on the surface it seems like a bad trade, it is an option for the Cubs. Both pitchers are under team control for three more years and would have the chance to re-rejuvenate their careers. Both of them come at a big cost, but have the ability to perform at a high level. Heyward has struggled with his swing and approach and you have to wonder if the front office wants to move on. This is just one option of many others that could work and give the Cubs some serviceable entities in return.
The Cubs are going to make moves this offseason, no doubt about it. And I am telling you, there will be a trade that will surprise you just like when the Blackahawks brought back Brandon Saad this offseason while trading away Artem Anisimov. Epstein is going to have to sacrifice depth and a core player to fix the holes on the roster.
In Theo we trust.