The Cubs didn’t make any moves Friday, but a pair of transactions conducted by other teams could impact the Northsiders’ fate to varying degrees. I’m admittedly reaching a little bit on these, so I’ll have to ask you to grab a pinch of kosher salt before we proceed. Got it? Okay, let’s discuss.
By trading Matt Moore to the Rangers, the Giants cleared payroll and left themselves with an open spot in the rotation. The reports of the deal mentioned the Giants possibly using the $9 million they’ll save on Moore’s contract to go out and land an even better pitcher. Yeah, not so much. While the Giants will indeed save money on their raw payroll, Moore’s five-year, $14 million contract produces a much lower average annual value toward the luxury tax threshold. That means this is probably a flat salary dump.
(Ed. note: After publishing, I realized a grievous error in my calculations of Moore’s CBT hit. Because 2018 was an option year for him, it would not have previously counted toward the contract’s AAV and is now weighed as a single year at $9 million. Even so, it would seem the Giants’ overall payroll situation precludes them from adding a top arm to replace Moore.)
So why am I bringing this up?
Well, it’s because what’s more interesting here is what it means for the Rangers, who now project to have four lefties in the starting rotation. Doug Fister, signed back in November, looks to be the only righty. Might Texas be interested in adding another right-hander, maybe one who makes his home not too far away? I’m speaking of Jake Arrieta, though I suppose they could sign John Lackey and make the rotation even older than it already is.
I had assumed Arrieta would find himself in either LA or Arlington, so this business with Moore — who could even be pushed to the ‘pen — may portend something bigger. Or it could be nothing.
Another such move that could mean something or nothing is the Phillies signing first baseman Carlos Santana away from Cleveland. The Cubs and Indians had reportedly discussed a trade involving Danny Salazar for left-handed hitting, so the switch-hitting Santana’s departure could create a little more urgency on Cleveland’s end. Most people will likely point to Kyle Schwarber as an obvious return, something I noted in that earlier piece, but there’s another possibility that makes more sense.
Ian Happ is a switch hitter who is versatile enough to learn to hold down first base and who could also man second and even center, the latter two of which might come in handy if the Indians end up dealing Jason Kipnis to the Mets. It would be very difficult to equal Santana’s defensive prowess and first, but Happ’s versatility and athleticism provide him benefit of the doubt.
There’s one more aspect of this hypothetical deal that makes Happ a more natural fit than Schwarber, and it’s actually the same reason many keep saying Schwarber needs to end up in the AL. The big knock on him is his defense, right? He’s destined to be a DL, or so the criticism goes. Well, the Indians already have one of those types, and I’m guessing Edwin Encarnacion isn’t going to suddenly move back to a corner infield spot or become a platoon hitter to accommodate Schwarber.
Holy cow, did I just write 500 words on stuff that might mean nothing? Yes, yes I did. But given the dearth of other salient Cubs-related topics, it’s all I’ve really got to cover at the moment. I hope you’ll forgive me this indulgence, dear reader, though I do feel there were some topics here that are worth discussing as we move through the offseason.