For the second season in a row, our friends over at Royals Review are doing a Winter Meetings simulation and I get to be Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. We all have a budget and can make trades and sign free agents. I also have to decide whether or not to offer arbitration to the Cubs arb-eligible players. There's a budget that I'm supposed to stick to, although there are no penalties for going over it except to be mocked and scorned by the other players.
I did this last season as well, but I wasn't really sure how it worked all that well and only made one trade, picking up Jeff Francoeur, who someone was trying to dump for pretty much nothing. Even at that price, I paid too much.
So what I'm asking for is suggestions from you. There is a budget but I've been given a lot of money to play with. The Cubs are $46 million under budget and that assumes I offer arbitration to everyone, which I'm not going to do. So I can go after whichever free agents I want. However, I'm not going to tie the team up with a lot of long-term contracts to veterans. I'm playing Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, not Jim Hendry.
I also have to decide which Cubs players to deal. I've already put Jeff Samardzija on the market as he's not been willing to sign a long-term deal. But I've made it clear that I want a lot more than what the Cubs got for Matt Garza this past season.
Then there's what to do with Starlin Castro. There are those rumors about the Cardinals having interest and I'm sure I'll touch base with the Cards GM and see what his interest is. But I hate to give up on a 24-year-old who already has almost 700 career hits. Sounds like Lou Brock all over again. But if the Cubs had gotten Steve Carlton for Lou Brock instead of Ernie Broglio, I don't think many of us would regret that, even today. So I'll listen on Castro.
Someone has already contacted me about Anthony Rizzo and I said he's not available.
Then there is the free agent issue. Because the new posting situation hasn't been finalized yet, they're treating Masahiro Tanaka as a straight free agent. So I can go nuts there if I want. But there are other interesting pitchers on the market: Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Hiroki Kuroda, Josh Johnson, etc. Because we roll the rosters back to the last day of the season, Tim Lincecum is available, if I want to go after him.
I have to re-sign our own free agents if we still want them, so I have a decision to make on Scott Baker and Kevin Gregg.
There there is the Robinson Cano question. I've been given a budget that would easily allow me to pursue Cano. That would be such a Hendry move, locking up a veteran for over 25 million dollars a year for seven or eight years. On the other hand, it's Robinson freaking Cano.
Of course, there's Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, both of whom are worth pursuing if they are the right fits for the Cubs.
This isn't a democracy and I'm not going to run this simulation through your votes. But I am asking for suggestions and ideas. Put your best pitch in the comments and I'll listen to all of them.
You can also use this thread to discuss what the real Theo & Jed ought to be doing this winter.
The simulation starts Monday morning and ends Friday at noon Chicago time. You can follow the sim over at Royals Review.