The Cubs have the most wins in MLB since the start of 2015. They’ve made the postseason four years in a row, which included three straight trips to the NLCS and one World Series title. In 2018, they won 95 games, lost the division and then were eliminated in the Wild Card Game by the Rockies. Theo Epstein said what every fan saw. The offense broke and he assured everyone it wouldn’t happen again.
Chili Davis was the first victim of a disappointing season. The hitting coach was fired, but the fan base expected changes to be made on the roster. As Epstein said, it was time to take a closer look at the production instead of holding on to the potential.
All this leads into the offseason, where two of the best offensive players in baseball are free agents in their mid-20s. It’s rare to see one star hit free agency at age 26, but two in the same offseason?
The need to improve your offense is evident, so obviously Cubs fans expected to see the team in a bunch of rumors connected to Bryce Harper or Manny Machado this offseason. The only thing an addition of either player would cost is money and why not spend it while the Cubs are in the middle of their championship window?
But of course for the last week we’ve seen and heard the reports. Apparently the front office isn’t willing to take on more salary if it means going above the highest luxury tax threshold.
There are three tiers at which a team has to pay a tax for the amount of salary you go over. For 2019, it’s at $206 million, $226 million and $246 million.
At this point in the offseason, the Cubs have about $225 million committed to their payroll for next year. The following is how much a team has to pay in luxury tax for each threshold.
The Cubs would fall under the first column and obviously if the want to sign Harper or Machado, or really any other position player that greatly improves the offense they’ll go over the $246 million threshold and would pay 62.5% in tax from the total overages of the $206 million limit.
So, the only thing standing between the Cubs and signing a big free agent seems to be the reluctance to pay the luxury tax.
And that’s completely unacceptable and just doesn’t make sense. Again, the Cubs are right in the middle of their championship window and we’re not talking about signing a 32-year-old player who’s on the decline. Both Harper and Machado are also in the prime of their careers and projected to keep producing for several more years before they begin to dip.
Plus, what better way to make more money as a team than by signing a superstar player and marketing the hell out of him, while at the same time improving your chance at winning more titles, which means more money. And the new TV deal is going to make the Cubs more money too.
Oh, how about the Cubs owning everything around Wrigley Field.
This isn’t to say the Cubs won’t actually end up making a play for Harper. I mean, it would be stupid not to meet with him and Scott Boras because remember to last offseason when the Cubs signing Yu Darvish seemed like a long shot at first.
Yet, making it seem as if the only way you’re able to sign another great player is to trade away other contracts because of the luxury tax is a bad look on ownership in my eyes.
The Cubs passing on the biggest free agent market in years right in the middle of their championship window because Tom Ricketts wants to stay under budget? Bullshit. Let Theo do his thing.
— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) November 9, 2018
It’s another reminder that yes, team owners love money more than winning. But hey, I still have hope that something will be done and all I’m really asking for is an honest effort to improve your team. If you get out-bid, fine.
Some food for thought:
"You do not want other teams knowing that you're interested in a generational player," Scott Boras said Wednesday about market for Harper.
Does that mean the Cubs are just posturing about their money issues? Not necessarily. But it's at least possible.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) November 9, 2018
Oh, and this goes for White Sox fans as well. And it’s great that so far they are making it known to everyone that they’re going to be serious about making a run for Harper, Machado, Patrick Corbin, all the top free agents and they should be.
Similar to the Cubs, but different circumstances, this is the perfect time to add a star player. Most of the rebuilding has been done. Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito are already up, with Eloy Jimenez ready to make his debut in 2019, while Luis Robert isn’t too far behind. And you’re still hopeful Carlos Rodon can stay healthy and be effective. plus you’ll have Michael Kopech back in 2020.
The White Sox don’t have to worry about the luxury tax anytime soon. Be bold. Make that big offer. There’s no reason not to.
For Cubs and White Sox fans, you should expect your team to be aggressive. There’s zero excuse not to do it.
We talk about that and more during this week’s episode of the Pinwheels and Ivy Podcast.
.@SouthsideZo is worried that his stupid brain is making him believe the #WhiteSox will sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but it's not a stupid thought at all!
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— Pinwheels and Ivy Podcast (@PinwheelsIvyPod) November 9, 2018
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