While it never really had much potential to bear fruit, the seed of Cubs interest in a trade for David Price had been planted and had taken root in the minds of more than a few fans. I’ll admit, the prospect of having the big lefty replacing the revolving door of Dallas Beeler/Donn Roach/Clayton Richard/Amaury Telemaco (just making sure you’re paying attention) in the rotation was more exciting than having a seat near Marla Collins in the mid-80’s.
But alas, the Cubs were unwilling to pay the price to get David and the Blue Jays swooped in with a package of three pitching prospects, one of whom is apparently some sort of dirty tree-hugging hippie who lives in his van in the Wal-Mart parking lot and shaves with an ax. This is normally the point where I would make some hackneyed anti-Detroit crack, like “Huh-huh, he’d better not bring that ax to a gunfight,” but I’ll leave those alone for now.
It remains to be seen whether Daniel Norris and his unique habits, not to mention his more traditionally-groomed duo of Jairo Labourt and Matt Boyd, is too much to give up for what will likely amount to a two-month rental, but Toronto seems to believe it is. Then again, this is a team trying to pry its competitive window open just long enough to get the most value out of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
The Cubs, on the other hand, have just begun to throw open their own windows (from Feldco, no doubt) in order to air out the fetid stench from the past few seasons. So while it’s still a little musty in the Friendly Confines (though that could just be stale urine), Epstein and Co. don’t really see the need to stick a box fan in the window when they know they’re going to need a new AC unit soon anyway. You see where I’m going here?
Given that need, this recent development is actually something the Cubs and their fans should be excited about, as it makes the prospect of acquiring David Price this offseason at least slightly more likely. Why is that, you ask? In an attempt to level the playing field, the current CBA awards compensatory draft picks to teams that lose free agents. In addition, the signing team loses their first round pick (if said pick is outside the top 10). However, that compensation requirement is voided if a player hasn’t spent the entire year with his club.
Now I think you see where I’m going here. Not only did the Cubs not give up any sort of prospect haul for a guy who wasn’t guaranteed to be in Chicago next season, and who would only have served to increase their chance to compete in a one-game playoff in October, but they won’t even have to give up a pick if they are able to sign him this winter. That’s huge for a team that is now going to have to maintain a revamped farm system while trying to compete at the big league level as well.
With Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto having already moved as well, it appears as though the only possibilities left in play for Cubs are mid-level starters who would not preclude the team from pursuing one of the bigger names when free agency rolls around. After all the buzz prior to the Philly series, it’s understandable to feel a bit underwhelmed at the prospect of standing pat at the deadline this year. But at least they’re not selling, right?
Okay, that doesn’t really help you to feel any better. But what should make you feel better — fully whelmed, in fact — is the idea that the Cubs should be big players this season. Given Price’s connections to Joe Maddon and the fact that he’s gone on record as saying that winning in Chicago would be “the coolest,” I think it’s fair to say he’s going to be a prime target for this regime come free agency. Provided, of course, the price is right.