As suitors continue to fall out of the race for the services of Scherzer and Shields, the Cubs name keeps coming up in the conversation. Should they entertain the notion of chasing another big name free agent pitcher?
The Chicago Cubs, due in main part to being one of the few with financial flexibility, continue to be linked to players like Max Scherzer and James Shields. And of course the rumors of a Cole Hamels deal continue to float around. But should the Cubs be entertaining any of these thoughts, or is it simply media speculation?
With the closeness the team has played everything to the vest over the past few months, starting with Joe Maddon, it’s hard to know where they really stand. And while in theory the money is available, the question is would it be worth it for the Cubs to sign another big pitcher?
Scherzer would be a spectacular signing for the Cubs, but there’s a couple of issues. The line was set in the mind of Scherzers’s agent Scott Boras, when the Cubs inked Lester. He feels Scherzer is worth more, and is going to push for it. But as Scherzer continues to sit, teams seem to be falling out of the running for his services, which may be an indicator Boras is out of his mind on the asking price.
Shields has been a consistent pitcher in his career, and of course has a history with Maddon in Tampa Bay. This has become a running coincidence with many of the Cubs deals in the last few years. Familiarity. But with a career 114-90 record in his career, the asking price will be too much. In comparison, Edwin Jackson was a 70-71 pitcher when he came to the Cubs, and received a 4-year, $52 million deal. 24 games over .500 as a pitcher, will that really be worth the price? Not likely.
Which will leave the Cole Hamels trade possibility. While his win total was down the past two seasons, which can be attributed to a struggling Phillies team, his production has been key. Last season, his 2.46 ERA was the best of his career, and he pitched over 200 innings for the fifth straight season. The benefit of Hamels is the dollar figure. He’s owed a little over $100 million over the next four years, with a $20 million team option in 2019.
That’s a bargain considering what the Cubs paid for Lester, and what they would pay for Scherzer or Shields. But the Phillies are likely to demand top prospects and/or Major League ready players. Otherwise they’ll hold on to Hamels and wait for a team to get desperate around the trade deadline, looking for that big arm to finish a run.
My personal opinion is to ride out the rest of this winter, and don’t worry about chasing another arm. As I mentioned in a recent article, they’re building to win now, but with a nice complement to compete for the future, there’s no point in emptying the coffers this winter. The market looks better next winter, and the Cubs will have more viable options to pursue that won’t break the bank.