According to 670 The Score’s Matt Spiegel, the Cubs and are “hot and heavy in discussion” with righty Marcus Stroman. This would be a pretty shocking move and there’s not much time for the sides to complete a deal prior to the midnight CBA expiration, but there is a whole hell of a lot to be excited about if the report is accurate.
Have heard now from 2 different sources that the Cubs and Marcus Stroman are hot and heavy in discussion right now. Would absolutely love that signing.
— M@ (@MattSpiegel670) December 1, 2021
To that end, I’m inclined to buy this more than I would from a national talking head being fed information as subterfuge. While Spiegel admittedly isn’t in the news-breaking business, he’s very plugged in to the baseball scene and has his share of connections. And I can say from experience as an infrequent breaker of news, typically much smaller stories than this, that you don’t roll with it publicly unless you feel really good about the sourced info.
Jon Heyman confirmed Spiegel’s report, tweeting that the Cubs and Stroman “are in serious talks,” then Ken Rosenthal added additional credence.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 1, 2021
I’ve been lukewarm on the idea of adding Stroman because he doesn’t really move the needle when it comes to the Cubs’ need for power pitchers who miss bats. He is, however, a tremendous clubhouse and community presence who instantly raises the club’s overall credibility. His acquisition could also be the first in a series of dominoes that need to fall in order for the Cubs to be more interesting and competitive.
The first of those subsequent moves would be for that high-velo arm to round out a rotation that so far has only gotten slower with the addition of Wade Miley. That’s not great for a group that was lowest in MLB with an 89.9 mph average fastball, becoming the first team in five years to fall below 90. The Cubs had no margin for error and gave up too much contact, something Jed Hoyer lamented when he said their starters simply weren’t good enough this past year.
Okay, but who do they add? Most of the power pitchers are off the board and a potential nine-figure deal for Stroman means they’re probably looking for more of a short-term gamble. I’m not sure whether Yusei Kikuchi fits the bill there because he’s probably seeking three years or more, though I feel like I need to keep banging that drum until forced to stop.
Or how about Carlos Rodón, who might be amenable to a shorter deal at high AAV to stay in Chicago and prove he’s healthy. His velocity dipped alarmingly across injury-plagued seasons in 2019 and ’20, then rebounded this year before again plummeting late in the season. It’s a good sign that he was back up near triple digits in the postseason and he is entering his age-29 season, so he could still be just as nasty for several years into the future.
Want to know who is interesting as hell to pair with Stroman?
— FullCountTommy (@FullCountTommy) December 1, 2021
Another possibility many are bringing up is flame-throwing righty Frankie Montas, who the Athletics could look to move as they pare payroll. Montas will turn 29 in March and is projected to earn $5.2 million in his second year of arbitration, so he’s pretty cheap and still has another year of control as well. Armed with a 97 mph fastball/sinker, a splitter that was downright filthy last year, and a slider that has flashed plus-plus, Montas could be a monster if he can just stay consistent.
He’s only had one season in which all of his offerings worked for him, and that was across just 96 innings in 2019. Even so, the Cubs would have to give up some prospects to get him because they’re not the only team interested in that kind of skillset. They just added a bunch of high-upside guys at the low levels of the minors, which is probably what Oakland is looking for as they rebuild on the cheap.
The other domino to fall here would be an everyday shortstop, which is something the Cubs should be looking for anyway. But adding a pitch-to-contact hurler like Stroman, who has a career 57.4% groundball rate, to a group that already includes Miley and Kyle Hendricks makes an elite glove a necessity.
Though the Cubs have generated plenty of skepticism with their lack of spending thus far, adding Stroman for a pretty penny would mean having to even spend more in order to make the deal work. Otherwise, it’d be like buying a new car with no tires. Although I guess you don’t need to drive in a city with ubiquitous public transit.
There are less than six hours to get a deal done as of publishing time, and each passing minute cools the “hot” part of this report by a few degrees. But hey, maybe the two sides will be able to pick things back up after the lockout if they can’t make it work tonight.