Chicago Cubs must pounce if the Oakland Athletics cut payroll
Looking back multiple reports from earlier in the offseason, the Oakland Athletics are looking to cut payroll down to a minuscule $50 million. Realistically, this won’t be hard for them to do. As it sat in 2021, the Athletics payroll was just a mere $64.3M, coming in at 23rd of the 30 MLB teams in terms of payroll. Therefore, pieces will be moving once the lockout is no more and one of those could be key to the Chicago Cubs and their assembling a new-look rotation.
Though Jed Hoyer recently stated the Cubs are done focusing on the starting rotation, one has to wonder if that could be just when in comes to spending money in free agency or if a move could still be made via trade should Oakland look to make one of their higher paid players available.
Enter Sean Manaea. After a respectable year for Oakland, Manaea finished the 2021 campaign with an 11-10 record, including a 3.91 ERA and seldom seen lower FIP of just 3.66. Furthermore, Manaea hurled 179 1/3 innings, striking out 194 in the process, good for 9.7 K/9. He led the American League in games started with 32.
In 2021, Manaea made $5.95 million and is now estimated to earn around $10.2 million in his final arbitration year for 2022. That number falls right in line with the Wade Miley option Chicago picked up to start the offseason and seeing as the Athletics front office wants to get payroll down to $50 million, as a whole, one can imagine Manaea becoming of the the guys being made available. After all, he only has one year left on his current deal before reaching free agency next winter anyway.
Chicago Cubs could explore the trade market to improve this roster
Trading a couple prospects for Manaea certainly couldn’t hurt given everything you attained at this season’s trade deadline. The Cubs, of course, wouldn’t have the best rotation on paper, but it would be an extremely positive step forward to have four above-average arms, including another lefty alongside Miley, in the rotation.
The Cubs find themselves in somewhat of a peculiar spot this winter. They aren’t a lock for the playoffs next year, but they aren’t exactly a lock to miss the postseason either. That is why Hoyer needs to continue doing whatever he can to patch as many holes as possible. You don’t sell the farm for a Sean Manaea, but you do recognize the potential he brings with him if you can get him for the low considering him impending free agency coupled with the Athletics looking to spend down in payroll.
Though the Cubs are saving their remaining big dollars presumably for a major offensive weapon this winter, pulling off little trades here and there doesn’t hurt either. Looking at a rotation of Stroman, Hendricks, Miley and Manaea is a good place to start if you want to get yourself into the “buy” category come the trade deadline and make a postseason push next season.