Baseball insider, Bruce Levine was on WSCR-AM 670 The Score with Mully and Hanley Monday morning, dropping some huge Chicago Cubs rumors. While the internet sites, like MLB Trade Rumors (best damn baseball rumor site on the interwebs) has been hot on the Cubs and the Tampa Rays having advanced talks, Levine’s info didn’t end there. Here is a quick rundown of the news.
Tampa Trade Talks
While a starting pitcher remains a hot topic for Chicago, and is the center of most all Cubs rumors, the team is extremely interested in reliever, Jake McGee.
Jake is a fireballer that had a near 6:1 strikeout to walk rate, and has 319 strikeouts in 259 innings pitched. He has a career ERA below 3.00 and owns a career 1.017 WHIP. While his 2015 was a disappointment, Levine credited his slip to some nagging injuries.
Additionally, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, had reported that the Cubs and Rays are in trade discussions centering around Javier Baez. Levine confirmed that the two teams have been in discussions this weekend on The Score, and MLB Trade Rumors has suggested that it would take one of the Rays talented young — cost controlled — starting pitchers for the Cubs to entertain moving Baez.
Could a Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, or Erasmo Ramirez fit into the Cubs rotation? Each are cost controlled, each would be here for several years, each are young highly thought of pitchers. This could be a very nice option for the Cubs, if they pursue it further.
There have been rumblings the entire offseason about Gordon, but it had always seemed that the Cubs were a lot more high on Jason Heyward than they were on Gordon. But according to Levine, the Cubs have had multiple meetings with Gordon’s agent, after they have had multiple high level conversations about Gordon, everyone in the organization is extremely high on acquiring the talented left fielder.
Only issue with this is, the Cubs rumors have the team asking Gordon to play right field, instead of left.
Gordon has been named by several baseball people as the best defensive left fielder in the game, and asking him to play the other corner position, while is similar, can cause a learning period which could take away one of his biggest strengths.
Perhaps he was onto the Cubs offseason plans before most others were?
While Chicago Style Sports had commented on the Gordon to the Cubs rumors, it felt like it was just a kicking the tires conversation at the time. With Levine’s new info it feels like there is a little fire to the rumored smoke.
It was assumed early in the offseason that the Cubs would open up their payroll, especially if they considered the addition of a guy like David Price or Zack Greinke, along with another impact bat. With a $114 million payroll in 2015, adding a supposed $30 million for pitching and another $20 million for a hitter among other additions, would push their 2016 payroll to around $180 million (also including Jake Arrieta‘s raise in arbitration and a couple more additions).
That is extremely unlikely. While the Cubs are in a large market, and they have under spent over the past several seasons, a jump in salary that much just isn’t a possibility within the constraints of the team.
Bruce confirmed this when he claimed the team would increase its payroll to around $150 million, which is $15 million more than what was previously reported. The John Lackey contract brings the team up to around $129 million, and with Arrieta expected to earn an additional $12 million, the Cubs will have around $9 million to acquire talent, barring any additional trades.
While Castro (according to Gordon Wittenmyer) was assured that he would not be traded this offseason, if the Cubs entertained him in a trade, it would open up an additional $7 million this season, and as much as $11 million in 2019 (there is a team option which includes a $16 million salary and $1 million buyout in 2020). With his improved play towards the end of 2015, he might have played his way back into the Cubs plans, but also played his way back into a movable piece that would net a bigger than expected return.
The Hot Stove continues to play out, and while each week it seems like there are several new rumors that join a long list of others. While this can become tiresome, I’d recommend that you pay close attention to the smaller rumors that continue to poke their heads up. Often times they continue to be talked about because there is much more smoke. While we, other blogs, or even the mainstream guys might report or talk about the other rumors, always take them with a grain of salt.
Interviews heard on 670 The Score