We heard yesterday that the Cubs were close on a late-inning reliever to augment the signing of Brandon Morrow, with most assuming said pitcher was one of Brandon Kintzler, Bryan Shaw, or Addison Reed. But perhaps they’ve got their eye on more than one Alex C. from Tampa.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Cubs may be one of the teams pursuing 29-year-old (as of 12/31) closer Alex Colomé. They aren’t alone by any stretch, though, as both the Cardinals and Rockies — among others — are said to be “aggressively pursuing” the righty reliever. That latter bit comes from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, with the two teams’ known desire for a closer lending veracity to the report that the source’s track record might not otherwise.
It’s hard to say what the Rays would want for Colomé, who has racked up 84 saves over the past two seasons and who is under team control through 2020. The closer is projected to earn $5.5 million in his first arbitration-eligible season and he’ll have two more raises after that, bumps that could be very significant if he maintains the big save numbers that really drive such decisions.
Trading for a closer is something the Cubs are certainly used to, though Colomé’s extended club control presents a very different scenario from those of Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis. There’s also some familiarity between the Cubs and Colomé, who got cups of coffee as a starter for Joe Maddon in 2013 and ’14 and has pitched under Jim Hickey’s tutelage throughout his MLB career.
This isn’t just a matter of the Cubs being willing to meet the Rays’ asking price, though. The Rockies have been particularly active in the top-tier closer market and have been linked to Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and even a possible trade for Zach Britton. The Cardinals have likewise been searching for a closer and have been mentioned in connection with Davis and others.
Given their wealth of young pitching options, the Cards are probably able to offer the most attractive package to a team that could be losing a good chunk of its rotation this winter. St. Louis also has decent outfield depth if the Rays would prefer to add a corner man. Come to think of it, though, the Rockies have a fair bit to offer in both of those categories as well.
The Cubs have noted position-player depth, not to mention the stated understanding that some of those players may need to be moved, but you have to wonder whether they’re willing and able to make this move. Signing Morrow gives them a potential closer, so they might be reluctant to go hard after Colomé, if they are indeed in the mix at all.
In the end, it comes down to whether a back-end combo of Morrow and Colomé is appreciably better than Morrow and [insert one of the names from above]. And I’m talking by a wide enough margin to justify the player cost that would be going back to Tampa in return. Or maybe it’s not an either/or situation and the Cubs would still add one of the pitchers from above. Lord knows bullpen health and performance is so fickle that redundancy is a must.
If Paul Simon was making the decision for Chicago, I would think Colomé, Al would indeed be a serious Cubs target. But if we take into account their current situation, the likely high trade cost, and the urgency of the other teams being mentioned, it just doesn’t feel like something Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer get done. Which means you can expect an announcement right after reading this.