In the wake of some exciting college football action (seriously, why is Duke so good this season?), there are still some offseason goings-on in the land of Major League Baseball. Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios…
According to the interwebs, Jerome Williams is hoping that the Angels non-tender him such that he can go somewhere else as a serviceable starting pitcher. That would be former Cubs pitcher Jerome Williams, who has been around for over a decade but is still arbitration eligible because he took a break from the majors for a while. Williams was OK for about 17 starts in 2005 for the Cubs, but then fell off a deep cliff and didn’t get another significant shot at the majors until the Angels picked him up. The ERA is way high, he gives up way too much contact, and he’s honestly not that good…but he has been pitching in the American League West which also means he has to face not only the Texas Rangers (who like to play offense) but also several high-powered clubs in the junior circuit.
The projected arbitration salary if the Angels choose to keep Williams is a shade less than $4MM. This is probably about what you’d offer a guy like Scott Baker anyway, and Baker has some injury concerns to say the least. You are talking about a guy who was a former first round pick and who is entering his age 32 season looking for a chance to solidify his role as a starter (again). If he isn’t complete crap, that’s at least 130 innings and up to 170 that Jerome Williams can eat for the Cubs for probably less than that $4MM (non-tender usually means he’ll get less than the projected arbitration salary), plus the league switch may be helpful for his ERA etc. Just throwing that out there, I don’t expect Jerome Williams to be the second coming of Ferguson Jenkins, but eating innings is a good thing and if Jeff Samardzija is traded, you’ll need to replace those innings somehow even if they’re shitty innings.
The Padres Want to Trade
The last time the Cubs and Padres had a talk, Andrew Cashner and Anthony Rizzo switched uniforms. Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that the Padres may want a lefty reliever and/or a lefty bat. Obviously the Cubs won’t trade Rizzo back to SD for Cashner, but there are a couple of options here.
One, the Cubs have James Russell, who we think isn’t all that good (he’s a LOOGY and possibly elite at it if you check his platoon splits). It is possible that the Cubs can replicate the Sean Marshall trade and get a pitcher who can plug into the rotation right away similar to Travis Wood. Dabynsky wrote an opinion piece about bullpen usage the other day, and I’d like to see the Cubs get away from relying on LOOGYs anyway. Might as well get rid of an overworked temptation and snag something interesting in return while Russell is still relevant.
Two, the Cubs have a couple guys in Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz who can plug in to the outfield in SD and also have some power and on-base potential. Schierholtz hasn’t been tendered a contract yet (arbitration deadline isn’t for another week or so) but he can still be traded as an asset under Cubs control. Platoon bats are probably what the Padres are looking for given the names Bill Center suggests they are willing to trade, though the Cubs probably have more information than we (or the media) do and thus could pick out a more interesting name.
Finally, the Padres could be an obvious trade partner because they hold the first pick in Competitive Balance Round B. I talked about trying to snag some Comp Balance picks in trade earlier. While Sweeney and Schierholtz are solid enough platoon bats, they’re not superstars and perhaps trading one of them straight up for a comp balance pick might not be a terrible thing.