November 8, 2017


It is projected that the Cubs will have approximately $70 million to spend on 8 major league roster spots ( 2- SP; 1-C, 1- OF, 4-RP).

Unless a team is really close to going deep into the playoffs, like the Cubs were last season, general managers are not likely to trade their minor league talent to acquire pricey veterans. Teams now value young players who are cost controllable for 6 years more than star, free agents.

The winter trade market is different than the trade deadline. In the winter, every team is re-tooling their roster and making organizational talent evaluations. They review what worked and what did not work last season. They have to project how their minor league players will develop in the first and second half of next season. They have to project how their major league roster is strong and weak to adapt/compensate for a long season ahead.

But the most jarring evaluation point is the dead money portion of the payroll. Owners loathe paying millions of dollars for players no longer with the club, or players who are drastically underperforming their contract value.

In the winter you see more "change of scenery" deals where teams are willing to trade an underperforming player for another team's underperforming player with the hope that the new team can "fix" the player. Many of these deals are trying to lessen the dead money portion of the payroll budget.

The first speculative dead money deal of the winter had numerous reports involving the Giants and the Cubs. Yahoo Sports and reported that the the Giants have their eye acquiring  Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, for starter Jeff Samardzija and closer Mark Melancon.

Heyward, a four-time Gold Glove winner, is still owed $134 million over the next six years of his contract. While he's proved dependable with the glove, his production with the bat has fallen off in recent years. This past season, the 28-year-old hit .259/.326/.389 with 15 doubles, 11 homers and 59 RBI in 126 games.

The Giants are looking for a new center fielder. Heyward's primary position is right field, but he has started 63 career games in center field, including 12 in 2017

Samardzija is owed $59.4 million for the next three years. While Samardzija finished with a 9-15 record and a 4.42 ERA this past season, he finished with a 6.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio,  good for second in the National League and fourth overall in the majors. He also surpassed 200 innings for the fifth straight season, finishing with 207.2 innings pitched. In the past two seasons with the Giants, he has a5.2 WAR, much better than his Cub years.

Melancon's first season with the Giants didn't go as planned. After signing a four-year, $62 million deal last winter, he battled an arm injury all year. He spent chunks of the season on the disabled list and appeared in just 32 games. When he returned in August, he served as the setup man to Sam Dyson. In early September,  He finished with a 4.50 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Melancon underwent pronator release surgery for nerve entrapments in the proximal forearm  In a study of 205 patients using a self-assessment questionnaire, 45 months after the operation. The questionnaire consisted of visual analogue scale recordings of pre- and postoperative pain during rest and activity, questions about remaining symptoms and appreciation of the result and the Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder and Hand form (DASH). Altogether, 59% of the patients were satisfied, 58% considered themselves improved, and 3% as being entirely relieved of all symptoms. 

Melacon, 32, is owed $53 million for the next three years. There is a current medical condition that is problematic. You could not count on him to be a viable closer candidate.

The Giants are trying to unload two players and $102.4 million in salary. The Cubs would like to shed Heyward's contract, but would only get about $30 million in relief. But this rumor is a typical dead money type trade. They look for upside potential while trying to shed downside player negatives.