At 29-40, the Chicago Cubs are going to be perhaps the biggest sellers on the market.
Valuable trade chips such as Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and the recently injured Emilio Bonifacio headline who the Cubs want to shop within the upcoming month. With that reasoning, the Cubs are clearly not contenders this season and should not look to add any pieces, especially with the bulk of their rotation on the move.
Yet there is reason to believe that this summer, the Cubs should add the one piece that is even more valued than Jeff Samardzija. Former first overall draft pick, David Price. The left-hander is bound to the lowly Rays, who currently sit as the worst team in baseball with a horrid 28-44 record. Price is making $14 million this year on a Super Two deal, and is once again, arbitration eligible this offseason.
The Cubs do not need a rental piece. For a team with lively hitting, some of which shines through in the current big league club in the form of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, whereas numerous others are waiting in the wings in the minors, the Cubs lack solid pitching.
Beyond this season, it is expected that the Cubs will continue with three of their five current starters: Edwin Jackson, who is not up for free agency until 2017, and younger starters Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta. The Cubs also have revealed that they are much more willing to spend this offseason given the new revenue due to a new radio deal and the renovation of Wrigley Field finally starting.
Even putting that aside, the Cubs saved well over $100 million in whiffing on Masahiro Tanaka, giving them even more rollover money to spend. Add that Alfonso Soriano is finally coming off the books, and the North Siders have quite a bit of money to spend this offseason.
On a contending team, Jackson would most likely take the role of a number 5 starter with Wood and Arrieta mixing the 3 and 4 spots. Yet with this new found money, picking up Price at the trade deadline gives them a grand opportunity to extend him to a multi-year deal. Granted, such a move will cost the Cubs a good amount of high ceiling prospects, some of which are bound to include Jorge Soler and Dan Vogelbach as a starting point, with more prospects most likely being added to a deal.
The Cubs are one of very few teams that have the farm system to make a blockbuster deal. Having a collection of high ceiling players to dish out while still being able to maintain the best in the organization is a luxury. This would benefit Theo Epstein and Co. greatly, and would turn them into a competitive team as soon as next year. With another ace entering free agency in Max Scherzer, the Cubs may very well take a look into the star right-hander as well.
This unfortunately may be wishful thinking for most Cubs fans, as it is quite unlikely that a fellow seller will emerge as the biggest buyer. But with just one year of team control left, it makes sense for a rebuilding team to add the big veteran piece, especially in a farm system that is light on high ceiling pitchers. While the Cubs have some strong talent with pitching in the farm, picking up a younger veteran with postseason experience can be the difference between pretender and contender.
The North Side of Chicago is growing impatient. It may be unlikely, but with the need for long term, front-end pitching in Chicago, this deal has the potential to work wonders at the corner of Clark and Addison for years to come.