Things are starting to pick up in the offseason and the Cardinals were the first team in the NL Central to make a huge splash. St. Louis struck a deal with the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, trading for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Adding Goldschmidt obviously gives the Cardinals a lethal weapon in the middle of their lineup, but the trade also brings the biggest Cubs-killer into the division.
So, what are the Cubs going to do now? Whatever moves they do make won’t necessarily be a direct response to the Cardinals getting Goldschmidt. No matter what any other team does the Cubs still have the responsibility to improve their roster from 2018.
Yet, the biggest storyline thus far in the offseason for the Cubs is that they’ll have to get creative in order to make any moves of significance. That continued Thursday morning, when ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reinforced the idea that the Cubs are currently operating under financial constraints.
What happens when you don’t have the money to fix something that’s broken? Sometimes the answer is to find a creative solution instead. That’s seemingly what the Chicago Cubs’ front office is facing this winter as it attempts to improve its club without spending gobs of money on free agents.
As is, its payroll commitments for 2019 buck right up against the luxury-tax threshold, so the notion of spending on Bryce Harper — a name Cubs fans have been salivating over since the day they realized he and third baseman Kris Bryant were friendly — seems far-fetched. It wouldn’t be if the team was willing to blow past the tax thresholds and commit to having one of the top two or three payrolls in baseball. That doesn’t sound like a possibility right now.
Even though Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have hinted at turning to trades and hoping players simply get better in 2019, rather than spending huge in free agency, the talk of payroll restrictions has been mostly speculative.
Is Tom Ricketts really not going to spend in the middle of the Cubs championship window? Rogers asked, but for now at least Ricketts is staying quiet.
Of course, he means everything they can do short of outspending everyone else in the game. Cubs ownership didn’t respond to an email about the team’s payroll, but the question still stands: Why can’t a team worth nearly $3 billion have the highest payroll in the game, if not for just a season or two?
The thing is, the Cubs have to spend some money to address major holes in their roster. The bullpen needs at least one more reliable, late-inning reliever and obviously the Cubs broken offense has to be fixed.
But can we please stop with the dumbass suggestion that the Cubs can somehow get better by trading Kris Bryant.
Right, because trading Kris Bryant will definitely make Cubs offense better 🙄 pic.twitter.com/cV1lDso5GV
— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) December 6, 2018
Anyway, the Cubs do appear to be focused on the reliever market. Rogers reports that the Cubs have checked in on several bullpen arms this offseason including lefty Zach Britton.
A few days ago we wrote about the Cubs also checking in with Andrew Miller.
And for whatever it’s worth, there’s this rumor.
**UPDATED MLB RUMOR**
Source: Cubs and Red Sox have ramped up talks with Andrew Miller (LH Reliever) seems they could make formal offers real soon.
Source also states another NL team has offer on table that Miller is shopping around to see if teams like Cubs/RedSox can beat
— IB 💵 🔌 (@incarceratedbob) December 6, 2018
I know, not the most reliable source out there, but the Cubs are definitely out there surveying the reliever market.
But hey, if you want someone more credible, here’s Ken Rosenthal who believes the Cubs will be very active.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 6, 2018
And hey, we can always hold on to hope for the biggest move of them all.
As Bryce Harper’s camp has staged a series of meetings in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, are the Cubs lurking and waiting to make their next big move? https://t.co/VgFZcjJ8ym
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) December 5, 2018