Once upon a time, I had an idea for the Chicago Cubs’ roster. Since the Cubs were known to desire, among other things, another starting pitcher, I wondered where they might find some bargains.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the names get snatched up, as the Padres grabbed one from my personal wish list in Brandon Morrow, the Royals inked Kris Medlen, and the Dodgers got Brett Anderson. That left a name that I thought could be had for super-cheap in Brandon Beachy:
#Cubs Twitter, show of hands…who wants to give Brandon Beachy a pillow contract?
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) December 31, 2014
Now with Beachy, we’re talking about a guy who underwent Tommy John Surgery #2 in March and might not be absolutely ready at the beginning of the regular season. Talking with Andy about it, he thought that the Cubs should offer a minor league deal with a spring invite, but if the rumors are true, then there’s some competition and a simple MiLB/NRI offer won’t suffice. The issue really is the roster spot; as you may know, the Cubs 40-man roster is still full, Chris Denorfia still needs a spot, and there might not be space for Beachy (or anyone else, like maybe James Shields haha) without some creative roster maneuvering. That roster spot is important, and with the Cubs gearing for contention as soon as this coming April, maybe they shouldn’t waste it on a guy who could turn out to be the next James McDonald or Scott Baker.
That was before I learned about the very creative and reasonable terms that the Padres used to re-sign Josh Johnson. If the details being reported are accurate, then Johnson (who was mostly injured through most of the past couple seasons) would get a base salary of $1 million guaranteed and $6.25MM worth of incentives based on performance thresholds.
Johnson will receive $500K for making his fifth start, $1MM for his 10th start, $500K for his 15th start and $1MM for his 20th. He will then earn $250K per start for starts 21-33. In total, his $1MM contract can reach $7.25MM if all of the incentives are reached.
Looking at Beachy’s stats and peripherals when he was healthy, and given that he’s still just 28 and has two years of arbitration eligibility left, would it be possible that the Cubs are one of those six reported offers, and could they use a similar contract structure to lure Beachy to the North Side?
The downside, of course, is Beachy not being able to pitch at all. In this case the Cubs lose $1MM (or whatever the base guarantee is prior to incentives kicking in) and regain the roster spot by transferring him to the 60-day disabled list. The upside…an affordable, club-controlled starting pitcher to solidify the middle-to-back of the rotation for at least two years.
I’m guessing the Cubs still have a spare $1MM lying around. Or maybe they just trade Welington Castillo and get their pitcher that way. But I’d go for the buy low option.