Only one day remains for the Chicago Cubs to finalize their 40-man roster. We already know the Cubs could be in the mix on a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays before the deadline on Tuesday, which makes sense given Chicago's need of pitching.
As we're all well aware, Chicago has a lot of financial flexibility and the Rays annually carry one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Shedding dollars while supplementing their farm system has been the recipe for the Rays' success in recent years and there's no reason to think they'll deviate from that course.
A regular speculative Cubs trade target of late, Tyler Glasnow is a perfect candidate to be on the move this winter. Set to make just over $5 million in 2023 in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, his salary skyrockets in 2024 to $25 million - a ghastly amount for a small market club like the Rays.
Looking at the free agent market when it comes to top-tier starting pitching, it's pretty barren outside of guys Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon. There's a couple guys in that upper-middle tier, but the Cubs are already littered with middle of the rotation arms and the fact remains: they need as ace and Glasnow, when healthy, can certainly be that guy.
Cubs: Now is the time for the Rays to move Tyler Glasnow
Knowing how lopsided his contract structure is, now is the time for the Rays to strike and maximize their return for the right-hander. Think about it: two years for $30 million or one year for $25 million. Tampa Bay can get a huge return for Glasnow if they act soon, where as if they wait until next winter, the club could wind up shooting itself in the foot. For a team that lives and dies by acquiring young, cost controlled talent, the time to strike is now.
Pulling off a move like this isn't without risk. Let's talk about that Tommy John surgery. After going down in August 2021, Glasnow returned in late September/early October this year for the Rays and began to build up strength again. He wound up making just three appearances spanning 11 2/3 innings of work: three in his first outing, 3 2/3 in his second and five full innings in his Wild Card start. He allowed only one earned run over those three outings and struck out 15 during that span. Safe to say, with another 4 1/2 months off to build up arm strength before spring training, Glasnow should be pretty close to a full send.
Whether or not the Rays wind up dealing Glasnow or not remains to be seen. However, the Cubs' farm is deep enough (as are their pockets) to stomach the cost for him - and his addition, while risky, could give Chicago enough firepower to return to the postseason next season. This really seems like a deal that could benefit both sides in very different, but equally valuable, ways.