Baseball into November, Cubs Still Working

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It’s been an insane school year so far, with budget cuts and the science department shrinking from five teachers to just three to cover our four grade levels.  That meant that I had to take care of four different science electives, which, much to the chagrin of my entire family, means that I don’t have time to do much.  So, I’m going to take Monday off as a mental health/recharge day, take the boy trick-or-treating around the neighborhood (he’s still sick but he got a pretty cool Harry Potter costume so we’re gonna make use of it, dammit!), and watch the World Series continue.  Heck, if it weren’t so darned far away, I might even go to McDowell’s.  But, grocery shopping first.

With the Cubs relaxing at home as well, we’ve been looking at their potential plans over the winter.  Like clockwork, the MLB Trade Rumors folks have also put out their offseason outlook, which includes discussion about Starlin Castro:

Castro won’t turn 26 until March, and he’s an enigma.  He tallied 529 hits from age 20-22, joining Alex Rodriguez as the only middle infielders to accomplish that feat in baseball history.  Since then he’s had replacement level seasons in 2013 and ’15, sandwiching a solid 2014.  The Cubs prefer Russell and Baez over Castro as defensive shortstops, so it’s unclear whether another team would install Castro at short.  He did show pretty well at second base late in the year.

If Castro became a free agent right now and demanded a four-year deal with a club option, I think he could get $38MM or a bit more.  So perhaps the Cubs could move him without eating salary, though they wouldn’t get a player back with much surplus value.  The Mets, Padres, White Sox, and Yankees could be potential trade partners for the Cubs, who would presumably look to add starting pitching.  Most of those teams have pitching depth, and the Cubs could look to add to their bullpen as well.

If indeed the salary makes Castro a break-even trade candidate, the Cubs wouldn’t pull the trigger on any trade and just let Castro continue to build surplus value.  The folks at Obstructed View did some figuring and suggested that Castro should have at least some surplus value due to his team-friendly contract, and naturally, we’re all still wondering which Castro is the real one due to his inconsistency over the past three seasons.  The take-home here is that most of us believe that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer won’t trade just to get rid of Castro; they’ll wait for a big haul.  The caveat is that the big haul won’t be Noah Syndergaard or anything like that, because of that inconsistency.

There’s also this

Pitching coach Mike Maddux will not return to the American League West champion Texas Rangers next season.

The Rangers announced Thursday that they were parting ways with Maddux after seven seasons. He had been among six coaches invited to return and was previously offered a new contract that he had not signed.

General manager Jon Daniels said he and manager Jeff Banister met with Maddux “to inform him we had decided to go in another direction.” The pitching coach’s brother, Hall of Fame pitcher and four-time NL Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux, is also leaving after serving four years as special assistant to Daniels.

Because so many teams are looking for pitching coaches, the chances of the Cubs landing Mike and Greg Maddux are like slim to none here.  But if Mike Maddux is really looking for another opportunity and Greg wants to hang out with his brother, then with the departure of Derek Johnson, I was wondering whether they could convince Mike to become the new pitching coordinator for the entire Cubs system.  That way Greg could still work as a special assistant in the front office like he did before Theo Epstein was brought aboard.  Hmmm.  Think of that as a pipe dream, but you never know…pitching minds like those would be hard to pass up and I would expect the Cubs to try, even if behind closed doors.

I also kept thinking about prospect currency as this World Series has continued.  The Kansas City Royals are obviously built based on prospect currency, given their core group of players and pitchers, and their trades to acquire the other pieces they needed, including current super-reliever Wade Davis.  The teams they defeated, the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, also were chalk full of prospect goodness, although the Blue Jays obviously traded most of theirs away for a competitive window that may slam shut very soon and that probably directly ousted Alex Anthopoulos as general manager.  The Cubs and New York Mets have benefited from their prospects, and in the Mets’ case, they acquired a bunch from Toronto, which is kind of funny in retrospect.

There will come a time sometime this offseason, given the glut of Rule 5 eligible prospects in the Cubs’ system and their various needs, that we will have to say goodbye to a good number of the guys we’ve been following in the Cubs minor league system.  But as this year’s postseason teams have shown us, there are plenty of ways to get to October and November.  And the Cubs will have enough depth to weather the storm.

Happy Halloween, all!

 

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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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