There will probably be generations of Cubs fans who were born, lived, and will die in the time it takes for the Tribune Company to sell the team:
Sam Zell is considering a lineup change.
Tribune Co., led by Zell, is no longer negotiating only with the
Ricketts family on a deal for the Chicago Cubs. Sources confirmed
Thursday that the parent of the Chicago Tribune recently has entered
into separate discussions with a group led by New York investor and
former Chicagoan Marc Utay, whose earlier bid was trumped by the
Rickettses . . . [Tribune spokesman Gary] Weitman said the media
company is “assessing other alternatives” but would neither confirm nor
deny that it is talking again with the Utay group.
The Cubs have been for sale for over two years. While current ownership
hasn’t abandoned the team as such, the failure to find a buyer has
likely caused them to forego all manner of potential competitive moves.
Things like firing the G.M. and taking a risk on a big contract, which
is something the Cubs should otherwise be able to do. Think about it:
did you put the best oil in your car once you decided to sell it? Did
you stain your deck the summer you put your house on the market?
No matter what the ultimate price the sale of the Cubs brings, this
dilly-dallying has cost them dearly. Not so much for what has been done
to the team, but by what has not been done and what deals rejected.
Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.
Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.
Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.
Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.
About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.
As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.
The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.
On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.
The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.
If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.