Chicago Cubs: Will a Mike Clevinger signing signal movement?

Michael Brakebill
Championship Series - San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four
Championship Series - San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Finally, a report that suggests one of the more prominent names of free agency may be ready to ink his name on a new contract. Though not quite one of those ace-caliber signings, it could be enough to at least nudge some more action. It seems that the White Sox at least said "Why wait for Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom to sign?" Something personally I wish the Chicago Cubs emulated a little more. Regardless, the Cubs are one of the teams stuck in the mud until the bigger dominoes fall and though frustrating, it makes sense.

Realistically, it will probably take until at least the Winter Meetings for moves to start snowballing. The implications of the top three free agents in Judge, deGrom, and Justin Verlander are league-wide. Simply put, for a team that is in on one of those three, may swiftly divert back to the next level of free agents: The shortstops. Take the Los Angeles Dodgers for example. Should they be after deGrom and he resigns with the New York Mets, the Dodgers will probably then focus all of their attention on the next best thing.

Therefore, the reason you're not seeing a shortstop signed is that when some of those teams miss on one of the big three, it will drive the price up of the short stops due to a bidding war. Clearly, a Trea Turner will wait for his price to be driven up once more teams are more focused on him. If he signed immediately, he probably wouldn't sign for quite as much as he will a month or so from now. Therefore, the White Sox going after Clevinger is a nice example of a team saying "We know we aren't getting a big ticket guy, let's secure what he can while everyone else isn't paying attention." It's a good strategy for sure. For the Cubs, it's not quite as easy as they appear to be swimming in a little bit deeper water than the White Sox.

Taking Kodai Senga for example. You have teams like the Dodgers, New York Yankees, Mets, San Francisco Giants, and Texas Rangers (amongst others) who are primarily fixated on Judge, deGrom, and Verlander. After they sign, about 15 teams, like the Cubs, come lining up to offer Senga a deal to acquire his services as the next best available target. Thus, to reiterate, a bidding war will commence and Senga winds up with a little more in his pocket than he otherwise might have if he pulled the trigger too early. The Cubs really couldn't sign Senga or a shortstop right now if they tried, unless they offered way more than anyone is projected to get.

Chicago Cubs: Will a Clevinger signing really move the market now?

Clevinger is one of those guys that are interested as a bit of a reclamation project. If he puts it all together, his potential is extremely high. From 2017-2020 he posted a 2.96 ERA (3.39 FIP). From then on, he missed 2021 and the first month of 2022 due to recovery from Tommy John Surgery. Less than 3 weeks later, he was on the 15-day IL with a triceps strain. Less than a week after returning again, he found himself once more on the IL. In all, Clevinger posted a 4.33 ERA in just 114.1 IP. He hasn't come close to his mark of 200.0 innings in 2018.

Next. Three under-the-radar Free Agents for the Cubs to target. dark

At the end of the day, don't be discouraged by the lack of Cubs activity right now. In fact, I'd be more worried if they were signing these guys that aren't at the top of every team's radar. With all the rumors and lack of signings, it proves one thing: The Cubs are waiting for when they can make real moves. They are clearly anticipating being buyers this season and the longer they stay patient to strike when the stove gets hot, the better.

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