Chicago Cubs shouldn’t sacrifice too much for pitching


With the MLB Winter Meetings just around the corner, the hot stove will be burning brightly for the Chicago Cubs and the team’s front office. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have made it very clear that the Cubs need quality front end pitching to compliment the talent they have on offense.

The debate over free agency or trades will ultimately come down to the opportunity cost involved. This is one of the best if not the best free agent class in terms of pitchers in a long time. Those who follow baseball year round know that teams like the Cubs have already contacted the “top targets” to gauge the interest level.

Without knowing anything that hasn’t already been reported, the acquisition of David Price seems to be all but completed, and why shouldn’t it be. Price is familiar with Cubs skipper Joe Maddon and he has publicly said that every player would love the chance to win a championship in Chicago.

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Sounds great doesn’t it? The downside is that Price will probably demand the type of money that Max Scherzer got. We are talking about $250 million for Price to put on the Cubs uniform. The Cubs know that their pitching issues can’t be solved with one move.

Even with the major free agent splash, the Cubs are still looking for a piece that will round out the rotation. Cheaper options that have been linked like the return of Jeff Samardzija has some fans getting excited.

Let’s assume that the Cubs what to save on payroll for a moment. Trading for a pitcher can be a great way to do that. The Cubs came close last year by dealing for a couple of Indian pitchers, but the moves never came to light.

The major drawback of trading, however, is the sacrifice to the rest of the roster. In order for the Cubs to get the quality pitching they want via trade, important pieces will have to be dealt to get it done.

For example, I have heard the name Sonny Gray a few times while looking at blogs and fan sites. Gray is a fantastic player who, like many of the Cub hitters, hasn’t reached his prime years yet. He would be everything that Theo and Jed want, a quality young arm that is under team control.

For those salivating at this notion, understand that a trade for Sonny Gray would cost the Cubs a Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell or a combination of at least two of them. Yes, trades can save money, but it deplete’s the organizational makeup and can cripple their future.

Every offseason, general managers, and owners are faced with the same problem. Filling out a roster the right way can’t be guaranteed. We make our moves and hope they pan out the way we constructed it.

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After the winter meetings concluded in San Diego last year, the general consensus pointed to the Padres and White Sox as the big winners. They, more than any other teams aggressively went out and got the players they felt would make them competitive. Ask them how that worked out.

The Chicago Cubs know very well that any decision they make will be debated and second-guessed. The formula for success to this point has been simple; draft, develop, and trade for offense. Pay for the pitching and use that as the trade pieces if need be.

Two seasons ago, the Cubs were able to parley Samardzija and Jason Hammel for Addison Russell and Billy McKinney. By spending low on a guy like Hammel, they were able to maximize his trade value and get a cornerstone for the Cubs for years to come.

The lesson here is to practice restraint. The Cubs front office has done that so well the last few seasons and the benefit is starting to pay off. A World Series can’t be won in the offseason, but it can certainly be lost. The Cubs should be smart and use the offseason and the July 31st trade deadline to make their moves.

If they go all in next month, we could be looking at another Padres/White Sox letdown next year.