Can the Cubs snag a competitive balance pick?

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It is true that with the Cubs seemingly out of the picture for the big time moves (except for Jeff Samardzija‘s impending trade/extension), we’re a bit bored over here.  Anno had to resort to writing about Curtis Granderson, whom I believe to be a very poor fit for the Cubs because of age, expense, skill level and the draft pick Chicago would forfeit in order to sign him.  Heck, if they’re going to cough up a draft pick (even if it’s just the second-rounder), might as well go after Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo.

Our fan base is very intelligent and realized how bad of an idea Curtis Granderson would be almost immediately.  One fan suggested that instead of coughing up a draft pick, the Cubs should look to acquire a draft pick in trade.  While the Cubs have no free agents tied to draft pick compensation (read: they weren’t good enough to bother with the qualifying offer), there is a way to get an extra pick, and that’s through trades of the competitive balance picks.  In 2014, the teams awarded competitive balance picks in the July lottery were:

Competitive Balance Round A

  1. Rockies
  2. Orioles
  3. Indians
  4. Marlins
  5. Royals
  6. Brewers

Competitive Balance Round B

  1. Padres
  2. Diamondbacks
  3. Cardinals
  4. Rays
  5. Pirates
  6. Mariners

Based almost entirely on who signs where, Round A could start anytime from pick #32 to pick #40something.  Brian McCann already signed with the Yankees so the draft order has already changed from what was previously published.  We probably won’t know the actual final order until “bubble” guys like Kendrys Morales are finally signed sometime in Spring Training, similar to the shenanigans that Kyle Lohse had to deal with last spring.  Round B starts after the second round, and again the second round may be altered depending on if any of the ten teams holding the first 11 picks signs one of the draft-tied free agents.

This will only be the second time that competitive balance picks have been awarded under the new collective bargaining agreement, so it’s difficult to know how these picks are valuated.  The only two trades that I could find involving these picks were with the Miami Marlins, who swapped picks with the Detroit Tigers to make the Anibal Sanchez trade work, and then also acquired a Comp Round A pick from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gaby Sanchez.  The Anibal math makes my brain hurt, so I’m just going to assume that a Comp Round A pick should be evaluated per the Gaby trade, which means that the Pirates gave up that pick for approximately 1.2 rWAR of production out of Gaby Sanchez.

Because of the Cubs’ in-house outfield options which could be viable as soon as the middle of next season, let’s assume that a guy like Nate Schierholtz is our trade chip.  Nate put up 1.4 rWAR of production as the strong side of the RF platoon last season (it’s not advisable to hit him against LHP).  At this moment I can’t really think of anyone else that I’d want to trade for just a Comp Round pick so we’ll stick with this for our exercise.

Digressing for a bit, what do the teams in Comp Round A need?  The Rockies are already looking at Justin Morneau to replace Todd Helton at first base, and since the Cubs aren’t going to trade Anthony Rizzo anytime soon, that’s out the window.  But the Rockies always need pitching.  So do the Orioles.  Could a random pitcher entice them to give up their first Comp Round A pick?  Either pick would be worth over $1.5MM in pool money.

Let’s assume that the Marlins and Brewers (both teams on the mend) have no desire to forfeit their draft pool.  That leaves the Indians and the Royals, and the Indians already have an expensive outfield with Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher out there.  So the most likely trade partner if we’re not using pitchers is Kansas City, who very much need a better outfield aside from Alex Gordon.  Nate Schierholtz would provide relatively cheap production while only costing them $1.5MM-ish in draft pool money.  That might work…

As for Comp Round B, since Arizona has always been mentioned in the Jeff Samardzija talks, it may be possible to snag the Diamondbacks’ Round B pick as a way to balance the deal.  Round B picks are worth at least $750K, which isn’t a trivial amount.  Obviously that’s in addition to whatever else the D’Backs give up to acquire Samardzija if this trade ever happens.

I very much liked the idea of trying to snag a draft pick in a draft year that promises to have a lot of strong talent.  Even if the draft talent pool isn’t 75 players deep, the additional money that could be had (maybe up to $2.3MM) can be allocated towards coercing the top pick (fourth overall for the Cubs) to sign.  It’s most likely something the front office is thinking about as they continue to build for the future.




About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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