Cubs will almost certainly try to ‘buy’ prospects by taking on contracts

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

It feels like forever ago, but last summer, when the writing was on the wall and we were all just waiting for the other foot to fall when it came to the Cubs and their stars, there was a ton of buzz about Chicago looking to package bad contracts with prospects.

Two names – Kevin Kiermaier and Eric Hosmer – kept coming up and, while neither wound up getting moved at the deadline, their fits on their respective rosters haven’t improved. We’re working through a work stoppage and lockout that halted any trade talks – but once business resumes (whenever that may be), you can count on the Cubs and Jed Hoyer getting crafty.

Michael Cerami has a great piece over at Bleacher Nation that delves into Keirmaier, specifically, and it’s definitely worth your time. The long and short of it is that Chicago has a far-from-perfect roster, next to no long-term financial commitments and could easily take on the final two years of Kiermaier’s contract. In return for granting Tampa Bay more payroll flexibility, you can bet there would be some prospect capital coming back in the deal.

In the short-term, the Cubs would get some badly needed defensive help in center field, allowing Ian Happ to slide back over to a corner outfield spot. Keirmaier isn’t just dead weight – nor should he be viewed as such. The guy’s got three Gold Gloves for a reason and would be a nice short-term add. Throw in the aforementioned prospects and it’s a win-win for the North Siders.

The exact same approach applies to Hosmer, who has been connected to the Cubs ad nauseam over much of the last year. Of course, the primary difference here is Kiermaier will earn just $25 over the next two seasons (assuming his team option for 2023 is picked up) while Hosmer is due $61 million over the next four.

In other words, you’re taking on more dollars – and over a longer period – which means the prospect return should look wildly different, as well. We know last summer, talks involving Hosmer centered around catching prospect Luis Campusano – and given the Cubs’ uncertainty at the position, that makes a ton of sense.

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Hoyer had made it clear repeatedly: this isn’t a re-do of the early 2010s, when the Cubs slogged their way through a painful teardown and subsequent rebuild. His actions early in the offseason – adding Wade Miley, Marcus Stroman, Yan Gomes, Clint Frazier, etc. – support that claim, as well.

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But given where the Cubs are at as an organization right now, this ‘buying’ prospects approach by taking on shorter-term deals from teams looking to shed salary makes a ton of sense and could allow the team to stay in the hunt while the prospects in the system work their way toward the bigs.