Chicago Cubs: Shelby Miller represents low risk/high reward for Cubs


Though a few top starters are off the market, the Chicago Cubs are in prime position to make a cost-effective deal that will help them now and later.

David Price has cashed in with the Boston Red Sox for a record $217 million over the course of seven years. Jordan Zimmermann found a home with the Detroit Tigers for 5-years, $110 million. Both were linked to the Chicago Cubs and neither will be calling the North Side their home.

Good work Theo. I sincerely mean that.

The Cubs have a need for another starting pitcher, but one does not need to — no one should ever — cost as much as Price will to the Boston Red Sox.

Zimmermann signed a modest salary compared to the likes of David Price, and likely could have earned more if he wanted to wait until the top targets in Price and Zack Greinke, and even Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto were off the board.

There’s no doubt that either Price or any of those aforementioned starters would have had success in Chicago, but for that cost?

Jon Lester signed for what seems like a reasonable $155 million deal last offseason or Chicago, and while we knew what he brought as an ace, it’s his invaluable postseason success that makes sense for the money (6-6, 2.85 ERA).

The top three starters, from a financial standpoint, in Clayton Kershaw (7-year, $220 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014), Max Scherzer (7-year $210 million with the Washington Nationals last offseason), and Price are all fantastic pitchers.

While Scherzer has been very respectable in the postseason during his Detroit Tigers tenure (4-3, 3.73 ERA, 2011-14), the Nationals, perceived to be World Series favorites heading out of spring training would fail to even make the playoffs.

Clayton Kershaw, for as great as he is, has not found that same success in the postseason. Making 10 starts since 2010, he’s 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA. David Price, through 10 postseason appearances, eight of those starts, is 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA — both of his playoff wins came out of the bullpen.

While each of these three starters are crucial to their teams’ success, and very likely could turn the corner come October, they can’t do it alone and during a transformation we’ve seen across Major League Baseball, where development is the key to success versus handing out the largest check, there are other ways to stay ahead of the game, both competitively on the field and financially.

The Cubs have been linked to the likes of Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves, and Chicago is known to be potentially shopping outfielder Jorge Soler. While more would likely have to be involved from either side to make a trade, there at least appears to be parameters in place for a potential deal.

Exploring Shelby Miller, he is coming off a brutal season with the Braves from a win/loss standpoint, but the 2015 All-Star finished 11th in the National League ERA race (3.02), and was tied for the top 10 in quality starts with 21.

As a 25-year-old, Miller would be a bargain for the Cubs who is coming off a year in which he made just $535,000 and is under team control through the 2019 season.

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Miller is one example of an arm that can help the Cubs now while only continuing to get better. He’s coming off just his third full-time season of at least 30 starts and is 32-35 in his career with a 3.22 ERA spanning four seasons.

He had early success with the St. Louis Cardinals in which he posted 15 and 10 win seasons for the Redbirds in 2013 and 2014. He also induced the ninth most ground balls across the NL with 299 in 2015.

When it comes to signing a pitcher long-term such as Price and even Lester, there’s always a greater risk that may become involved with these long-term contracts, especially for a pitcher. The mileage on these arms from hundreds upon hundreds of prior innings is sure to catch up to that pitcher before they see the end of the contract.

They are being paid like the great pitchers they are, but they’re also being paid for what they did — not so much what they’re likely to do. At least not beyond the first couple years of that long-term contract.

If a team wins the World Series, it may have been worth the gamble.

I say when you have a young, up-and-coming team as good as the Cubs, why go all out for another pitcher when you can spread the resources.

Don’t forget, some of that money has to be allocated for Jake Arrieta.