Look, it’s been an offseason that’s largely been defined by subtraction. Losses of fan favorites from the 2016 season, including Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber, watching a franchise icon walk away in Jon Lester and a trade of an NL Cy Young finalist in Yu Darvish.
It hasn’t been an ideal offseason to be a Chicago Cubs fan. With ownership clutching its pearls and snapping the purse shut on the fingers of new president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, we caught just a glimpse of hope in the last week or so with the team signing Joc Pederson and Trevor Williams.
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Still, hardly what you’d call major shake-ups for a team that could lose three key players next offseason, with Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo all set to hit free agency. Willson Contreras is hot on their heels, with only two years of team control remaining. Of course, it might not even take that long for Cubs fans to be forced to bid adieu to their favorite players. Several of them have been oft-mentioned in trade speculation this offseason.
A rebuild, or at the very least, a re-tooling is coming. But after weeks and months of frustration mounting, at least we can take solace in the fact that the Cubs didn’t do what the Dodgers just did in signing Trevor Bauer.
Los Angeles apparently thought so highly of Bauer that they were totally fine handing him $102 million over the next three years – including $40 million in 2020 and $45 million in 2021. Trevor Bauer is not – and likely won’t ever be – worth that kind of money. Period.
In 2020, Bauer was good. Like, stupid good. He topped former Darvish in the Cy Young voting after turning in a season (albeit a shortened one) that won’t soon be forgotten: 11 starts in which he led the league in ERA (1.73), complete games (2), shutouts (2), ERA+ (276), WHIP (0.795) and hits per nine (5.1).
The Cubs might not be spending, but at least they didn’t do this.
That’s a very, very impressive body of work. My problem with paying him more than any other MLB player the next two years? Look at what he’d done prior to 2020:
- 70-60, 1,117 IP, 4.04 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 1.295 WHIP, 8.1 H/9
There’s nothing wrong with those numbers. If you had those numbers alone, you’d surmise that this player is a quality big league arm, probably a middle-of-the-rotation innings-eater. And guess what? You’d be right.
We might all be incredibly frustrated by the Cubs’ recent acceptance of sitting on the sidelines when it comes to impact free agents. This trend has gone on for years now, to the extent that the team wasn’t even in on Bryce Harper, despite his wanting to play for them. But the Bauer signing, in all its insanity, is a nice reminder that spending isn’t always the answer.
There are smart ways to spend money and very, very poor ways to do so: this move falls firmly in the latter in my eyes.