Chicago Cubs should not give in and sign starting pitcher
By Tim Stebbins
Despite Spring Training being right around the corner, the Chicago Cubs should not overpay any free agent starting pitcher.
The MLB offseason has been in the spotlight as of late, as many of the league’s top free agents remaining unsigned. The likes of Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Yu Darvish all could help a team in 2018 and beyond, yet remain free agents.
Of course, this is not to say that MLB teams have no interest in these players. In fact, the Chicago Cubs have been linked to Arrieta, Cobb and Darvish throughout the offseason.
Could, would, should, have not
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As a big-market organization, the Cubs have the money to sign any of these pitchers. This, combined with their recent postseason success and need for starting pitching, have made them favorites to bring one of Arrieta, Cobb and Darvish aboard.
Arrieta, Cobb and Darvish have waited things out for several months now, likely seeking the best contract offer possible. There is no telling how often a player will be a free agent, so there is no shame in this.
Unfortunately, there is a clear discrepancy between what players feel their value is and what they have been offered. There is no questioning that these players could help any MLB team.
At the same time, Arrieta, 31, Cobb, 30, and Darvish, 31, are all on the wrong side of 30. This, combined with other factors, are why the Cubs must not give in to sign one of these pitchers unless it is on the team’s terms.
The Cubs, like other MLB teams, have made it clear that they are not interested in signing a veteran free agent to a long-term contract. Consequentially, the players are angry, suggesting collusion is occurring across the league.
Collusion not to blame
The players are angry at an issue that they realistically started themselves. In Dec. 2016, the MLB Players Association agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with MLB owners. The CBA describes the MLB’s rule of employment and financial structure of the league.
The players essentially agreed to a CBA that put them into the situation at hand today. As USA Today explains, MLB teams are no longer able to overspend past the salary cap without financial consequences.
As a result, MLB teams are now less-willing to hand out multi-year contracts to free agents than before. This is not to say that they are completely unwilling, but a 31-year-old Arrieta is simply not going to receive the 7-year, $200 million+ contract that he reportedly desires.
MLBPA dug themselves into a hole that they must dig themselves out of
While this may seem unfair, the MLBPA is truly more to blame for this issue than the financially conservative teams. The Players Association could have avoided this mess had they agreed to a CBA more fair for all sides.
If the Cubs want to add a starting pitcher, they must wait until the players lower their asking price. Giving in to the players’ asking prices will simply stick the organization with an aging player and a large contract.
Ultimately, the free agents and players across the league must recognize the issue at hand. Arrieta and others are right to seek the best contract possible; it comes to a point where they must lower their asking price, however.
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This is undoubtedly no easy task, but free agency began in November. One side must eventually give in, and it is clear that the teams are not going to be it.