Monday, May 20, 2024

If You’re Holding Your Breath For A Cubs Signing, Read This

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Even before the injury bug struck the Chicago Cubs in spring training, many questioned whether enough had been done to compete in 2024. Regardless of the outside noise, the Cubs are a major-market team, and upgrades are still available in the free agency market. There will always be pressure for a Cubs’ signing when you’re in those shoes.

Patrick Wisdom, Ian Happ, Caleb Kilian, and Jameson Taillon have all already fallen victim to injury in 2024. Wisdom’s and Happ’s ailments seem less threatening. In fact, Wisdom has already seen in-game action, and Happ is participating in practice field drills. Kilian was not as lucky; he’s projected to be out until after the All-Star break. Taillon has all sorts of uncertainty after tweaking his back on Saturday.

This free agency year has been one of the weirdest in memory. It’s so strange that World Series champion Jordan Montgomery and NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell remain free agents. There are just over two weeks left until the regular season begins. But at least one team can cash in on a short-term deal for premium talent right at the line.

There was already existing chatter about the Cubs’ interest in signing Montgomery. However, the chatter spiked with the pending news about Taillon’s injury timeline. The argument is being made that big-market teams make big-market moves and spend big-market money. But if you think and hope the Cubs feel this way along with you, think again and reassess your hope.

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Cubs Are Not Contenders For Signing Montgomery

Sahadez Sharma of the Athletic used a phrase Cubs fans are painfully familiar with – budget conscious. The Cubs are right at the luxury tax threshold, and signing either Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell would certainly push them over the “limit.” Sharma says the Cubs are not in contention to sign either starter.

Chairman Tom Ricketts has said previously that he is not opposed to going over the luxury tax; he’s done it before. But he strongly disagrees that spending the most money guarantees you championships.

Ricketts does have a point about spending. The New York Yankees have the highest payroll by a wide margin and haven’t won a title since 2009. The San Diego Padres recently went for gold with their payroll, and they are now in salary hell. That’s what Ricketts is talking about, but that doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

You don’t have to spend the most money, but you can still put your toes over the luxury tax when you feel good about your chances. The way the front office talks about this team, you have to believe they think a championship is close. So, why not go all-in with a move like this? Something tells me it has to do with the future.

Why The Cubs Are Fine To Start

In Tom Ricketts’ defense, jumping into panic and scrambling because of Jameson Taillon’s injury may be overreacting. MLB experts rank the Cubs’ farm system as the second-best in baseball, behind the Baltimore Orioles. Much of that has to do with the number of prospects they have and feel will be ready for major league play in the next two years.

In the field, you know about Pete Crow-Armstrong, who was a Cody Bellinger signing away from making the MLB roster on Opening Day. Alexander Canario is as close as PCA, too. But there’s also been the emergence of Owen Caissie and Matt Shaw so far this spring.

And many of those are pitchers. We saw the emergence of Jordan Wicks last season, and he’ll carry that over to the Cubs’ rotation this season. Ben Brown and Cade Horton are next in line to make a difference on the big league club. Michael Arias, Luke Little, and Drew Gray are all also coming.

But Moves Could Be In The Future

The Cubs have more talent than they have room for on the roster, and they’re all young with bright futures projected. They are not going out to sign Montgomery, which can be telling in two ways. They believe in what they have to live up to their hype. And two, they may be planning to sign some of these guys in the future with the money not spent today.

All of this is to get to this point right here. The Cubs have been playing the long game since the selloff of 2021. So far, it’s worked, and they have a good team for 2024. They have enough to get started in 2024. Come July and the trade deadline, should they find themselves ready to make the push, they’ll have salary room and ammunition to get whatever they need.

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blockwood9
blockwood9
Mar 11, 2024 11:46 am

The better the farm system, the more cost effective it becomes for taking a big swing when the timing calls for it.

Right now, the Cubs can start the season, standing pat. IMO

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