Tyler Chatwood is nearly useless to the 2018 Cubs.
He’s been removed from the rotation and is pitching in hopeless situations. Assuming the Cubs move on to the postseason, he won’t come close to making the postseason roster.
He might be useless beyond this year, too. The question, “Can the Cubs fix Chatwood enough so that he could be a rotation starter in 2019 or 2020?” doesn’t have a definitive answer.
When a team has a bad contract like this, one of the things that team can do is try to swap it for another club’s bad contract in the hope that the change of scenery might help both players.
And so I thought about who the Cubs might be able to acquire for Chatwood, and I wondered... why not Wade Davis?
Davis, like Chatwood, is having a bad year. Since July 24 “bad” has turned into “horrific,” as he has a 19.29 ERA and 1.957 WHIP in that span, which covers nine appearances. He’s allowed four home runs and blown two saves. (It should be noted, perhaps relevant, perhaps not, that in spring training for the Cubs in 2017, Davis posted a 14.40 ERA and 3.000 WHIP and looked awful. That didn’t carry over into the season.)
Yikes, that’s horrendous. But then, Chatwood’s been nearly as awful. Since June 30: 8.26 ERA, 1.976 WHIP, 25 walks in 28⅓ innings.
Chatwood, though, did have some success previously at Colorado.
Davis had a good year for the Cubs in 2017, though he did struggle a bit toward the end of the season.
So why not swap these contracts? The Cubs could use someone in the bullpen right now, especially with the status of Brandon Morrow uncertain. Davis has thrown more innings than anyone in the Rockies’ bullpen except Adam Ottavino, and that usually shouldn’t be the case for a closer. And having Chatwood as the guy who only throws in blowouts (and badly, at that) leaves the Cubs a man short in the pen if a game goes into extra innings.
The contracts don’t match up exactly. For the sake of argument and easier math, let’s assume one-quarter of the season remains (it’s actually a bit more). Assuming Chatwood doesn’t meet his incentives (and he won’t), he is owed $28,625,000 through 2020. Assuming Davis doesn’t meet his incentives, he is owed $40,000,000 through 2020 (which includes a $1 million buyout for 2021 if he doesn’t have 30 games finished in 2020).
So what if the Rockies paid the rest of Chatwood’s money AND Davis’ money in 2018, and then the teams took on the respective contracts for 2019 and beyond? That would put the Rockies on the hook for $32,625,000 through 2020 and the Cubs on the hook for $36,000,000 through 2020, probably close enough that they could make this deal work. It would also not increase the “cap hit” for this year for the Cubs, important since Theo & Co. have made it pretty clear that they don’t want to go over the $197 million luxury tax limit for 2018.
This trade could be made now — both players would easily clear waivers.
Why not do this? The Cubs obviously don’t intend to use Chatwood in any further high-leverage situations this year, and the Rockies have apparently demoted Davis and are using Ottavino as their closer, for now anyway. Davis wouldn’t have to be “the guy” for the Cubs; Pedro Strop is doing a good job closing in Morrow’s absence, so Davis could work into the rotation of setup guys. Beyond this year, maybe Davis and Morrow could share closing duties — that would conserve Morrow so he wouldn’t get hurt again.
Hey, maybe this is a wacky idea that wouldn’t work.
Or maybe it would. Why not try it?
BCB’s Tim Huwe will have some other thoughts about Chatwood and his contract coming up at 11:30 a.m. CT today.
Trading Tyler Chatwood for Wade Davis...
This poll is closed
... could be a great solution to this problem. Do it!
... is nuts. Don’t do it!