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Tyler Lowe   12/13/17

 

The Winter Meetings are in full swing by now, with numerous rumors heating up about almost every team across the MLB.  Over the last few days, a lot of non-closer relief pitchers have been signed to lucrative multiyear deals.  It seems that the Cubs signing of Brandon Morrow set the market for relief pitchers.  Guys like Bryan Shaw, Pat Neshek, and Tommy Hunter had huge paydays just like Morrow.  With the exception of Neshek, the other three all either tied for or broke the record for average annual salary for a non-closer relief pitcher, previously held by Andrew Miller ($9 million).  Jake McGee has reportedly resigned with the Rockies to a 3-4 year deal as well, and he may join the other trio in breaking that salary record.

Although there have been a lot of relievers taken off the board this week, quality guys still remain.  Obviously the true closers are still out there in Wade Davis and Greg Holland.  I don’t expect the Cubs to snag either of that duo though, now that they’ve invested $9 million a year in Morrow.  However, names like Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, Anthony Swarzak, and Juan Nicasio could be solid additions to the Cubs ‘pen.

The Cubs search for free agent starting pitchers is a little less clear now.  Last week, they signed Tyler Chatwood to fill one of the two remaining openings in the rotation.  Yesterday, they signed Drew Smyly to a two year deal.  He’s unlikely to pitch in 2018 due to a Tommy John surgery he underwent this past summer.  This could mean the Cubs still want to get someone like Alex Cobb to fill the last rotation spot, but that’ll cost the club around $15 million a year.  In addition, the Cubs guaranteed Smyly $7 million in 2019 so I’d expect he’d get every chance to get a rotation spot that year.  Yesterday, a report came out suggesting that lefty swingman Mike Montgomery would like a spot in the rotation with the Cubs or to be traded somewhere he can get this opportunity.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs handle this situation.  I’m not sure how much trade value he has, but I think he’s much more valuable to the team as a swingman rather than a full-time starter.

The trade front is where most of the Cubs rumors lie.  As in previous offseasons, they are strongly connected to Chris Archer from the Rays.  Unlike in other seasons, however, the team seems to have a good bit of interest in Alex Colome as well.  A trade for Archer alone would require a huge return from the Cubs, let alone getting both pitchers in one swoop.  In addition to the Rays, the team seems to be at least holding preliminary trade discussions with the Indians and Royals about Danny Salazar and Danny Duffy.  I think these two guys pose too much of an injury risk, especially since the Cubs have already signed Chatwood and Morrow this offseason, who also come with their fair share of injuries in the past.

If I had to guess, I’d say the Cubs will definitely sign another reliever or two before the end of the offseason.  They also will probably either sign another free agent starter or swing a trade for one.  After the first few days of the Winter Meetings, I’m very excited to see what else the club can do to improve itself going into 2018.  One thing’s for sure, they are going to be aggressive.

 

Photo: Andracki/Yahoo Sports

 

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