In between the Detroit Tigers advancing to the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals continuing to conjure up black magic, and the San Francisco Giants refusing to die, there are some questions as to what the Cubs are going to do once the World Series is over and the offseason begins. We made some arguments for Zack Greinke before, but admittedly he’s a bit of a stretch and would be uber-expensive even if he doesn’t cost a draft pick to sign. So I guess we’ll turn to someone more plausible. I believe Dabynsky is working on a run-down of Bruce Levine’s wish-list later on, but for now I’ll just focus on Brandon McCarthy.
You may recall that McCarthy got smacked upside the head by a line-drive off the bat of Erick Aybar in early September. That pretty much ended his season and he had to undergo brain surgery. The good news is that he’s been cleared to resume baseball activities and he’s in good spirits. Also a fun guy to follow on Twitter if you haven’t already. His wife is pretty funny too.
The mantra being given out by the Cubs and the media covering them is that any free agents signed will be of the short-term, reclaim-some-value variety that they can then trade at the deadline to restock the farm. That would also seem to imply that they don’t want to surrender any draft picks, so free agents that get the qualifying offer (worth $13.3MM) for draft pick compensation are probably out of the question.
McCarthy becomes a free agent this offseason. In his last year of arbitration eligibility, McCarthy received $4.275MM from the A’s according to Cots. He’s expressed an interest in remaining with Oakland so an extension from Moneyball genius Billy Beane could still be in play. If you assume that McCarthy can bring 2-3 wins above replacement then my back-of-the-napkin guesstimate is that he’d be worth about the qualifying offer amount on the open market. The injury history will take a bite out of that, though, and so it seems unlikely that Beane will risk giving McCarthy the qualifying offer. It’s more likely that he either leaves without compensation or is signed to an extension. In that case the Cubs don’t have to risk forfeiting a draft pick to sign McCarthy should he become available.
McCarthy’s peripherals suggest that he’s the kind of pitcher you would want, as someone who doesn’t walk a lot of batters and keeps the ball in the park while striking out his fair share. He’s a few months older than Matt Garza and both are still young so both could conceivably be traded or retained as the core to the next contending Cubs rotation. Some things to think about is how much of McCarthy’s peripherals are aided by the cavern that is the Oakland Coliseum. The Coliseum has huge foul territories and is notoriously difficult to hit homers in, and looking at McCarthy’s splits you can tell that he has more success at home than away, which is probably true for most pitchers outside of Colorado anyway. He also had a relatively sour second half even before he took a baseball off the noggin. But again, good control with a decent arsenal of pitches is something you’d like to have, not to mention the fact that McCarthy would be switching leagues and his performance could improve just as Garza’s did.
I’d be happy with Brandon McCarthy on the Cubs for a two- or three-year deal worth about $8-$10MM per season. I believe he can easily outperform that deal and the team-friendliness of the deal would make him an attractive trade target.
What do you think?