A friend of mine is at the winter meetings in Tennessee right now for work, she sent me a quick picture of Joe Maddon getting ready to be interviewed by someone in a hallway. She’s not a baseball fan and before her arrival in Nashville posted on Facebook a quick prayer, “may all the big trades and announcements happen during normal business hours and before Thursday, Amen.” For her sake I hope she gets to travel home after tomorrow, but for the Cubs sake….there is still work to be done.
This week the loveable loser signed RHP John Lackey to a two year deal. While I wasn’t the most super excited ever by this deal, I can’t say it’s a bad one. Would I have preferred Price or Greinke? Of course, but despite his age Lackey had an excellent season this year, he matched his career high in starts and went 13-10 with a career best ERA of 2.77. Not a bad way to start filling out the starting rotation for the Cubs. The only thing that worries me is that at 37 years old this was Lackey’s 13th major league season. The Cubs have signed him through 2017 and while he’s in good shape now, you can never be too certain about veteran pitchers’ health prospects. The Cubs did great with the acquisition of Jon Lester (31) last year, but I’m hoping Theo Epstein has more up his sleeve than reuniting Red Sox players. Let me be clear, I’m not anti-Lackey; I just worry about his age.
Last night the Cubs signed Ben Zorbist to a four year contract; he helped Kansas City wrap up the World Series this past season and worked with Maddon in Tampa. Both bat and all-star caliber fielding will be a great addition to the Cubs infield. At 34 he’ll overtake Anthony Rizzo (26) as the oldest infielder on the team. While Zorbist is a happy addition, there was also the trade of a fan favorite last night. Starlin Castro was traded to the Yankees for rhp Adam Warren and a player to be named. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Castro could be a bargaining chip, but that I had hoped it would be Baez instead, alas young Starlin we bid you adieu and wish you well. I received a snapchat from a Yankee fan friend earlier today stating that the acquisition of Starlin was thus far his favorite Christmas present, granted he was just taunting me but Starlin really may be the best gift Yankee fans get this off season. Without knowing who the “player to be named” in this trade is yet, out of all the work done this week this is perhaps my least favorite. Castro needed to work on some things, but once he got his head straight he ended up with the best batting average on the Cubs in a pretty remarkable September for the team. He’s been a solid fielder for years, and when his bat is hot, it’s super-hot. Starlin was a notable bargaining chip and easy way for the front office to get out of paying exorbitant amounts of money for a new player, especially considering Addison Russell, Javy Baez and Glyber Torres the 18 year old short stop and top 50 prospect still in the Cubs farm system.
With the Winter Meetings due to end tomorrow, there are still several other moves the Cubs may be looking to make. While I will continue holding out hope that they’ll win back Dexter Fowler there are plenty of rumors flying about the Cubs looking at Jason Heyward, and while I drafted him often this season to my daily fantasy lineups due to his power hitting, I just…..HE’S A CARDINAL! I know I need to get over that considering his 2015 season .359OBP but it’s like really really hard to not think about all that time he spent as a red bird. And Heyward as a free agent could end up costing the Cubs multiple hundred millions of dollars, so while his power would be useful, I hope the Cubs management won’t just start throwing money around on a name. I have enough faith in Theo, Hoyer and Maddon to assume they won’t but, I always keep my fingers crossed. Another rumor is starting pitcher Danny Salazar from the Indians. Salazar is 25 and the Indians would be sure to pick up one of the Cubs young bats if they were to give him up, and while we can remain fairly confident that Bryant and Schwarber will not be traded there still an awful lot of young talent on the Cubs and in the Cubs farm system so picking up another starting pitcher and really finishing out that rotation would be ideal, especially considering this kid could get a lot of learning done at the side of Lester and Lackey and knowledge of how to become the ultimate work horse from one Jake Arietta.
There are still countless other rumors and who knows what will end up happening in the next 24 hours, let alone the rest of the off season, especially since none of the earliest rumors we heard this post season ended up panning out, ultimately the Cubs management team has set three goals: being a good neighbor, preserving Wrigley Field and winning a World Series. The Ricketts family, as well as Theo, Hoyer and Maddon are as committed as ever to these goals and we in Cubbie Nation are very appreciative.