In a recent rumor, the Cubs were mentioned as competition with the St. Louis Cardinals for Nolan Arenado. Why do the Cubs not belong in that conversation?
On Tuesday, Jeff Passan sent the city of St. Louis into a scramble by linking the St. Louis Cardinals to Rockies’ third baseman, Nolan Arenado. However, we won’t be focusing on the Cardinals and their approach for Arenado in this article. Here, we are going to focus on why the other team mentioned, the Chicago Cubs, is a much more difficult landing spot and ultimately, why they aren’t a good fit for the All-Star third baseman.
With most things in life, it all comes down to money.
The legend of Chicago, Chicago’s hero, Theo Epstein, has hamstrung the Cubs with contracts to players that are not performing to the level of what they are being paid. Looking at spotrac.com, the Cubs are currently over the salary cap threshold for 2020. With $210.7M committed, they are $2.7M over budget.
This has resulted in the team being unable to acquire almost anyone this winter. It’s so bad that they couldn’t even afford Eric Sogard and his $4.5M contract that he signed with the Brewers.
Jason Heyward ($23.5M), Yu Darvish ($22M), Jon Lester ($20M), and Kris Bryant ($18.5M) make up their four-highest paid players on the Cubs and three of those four are going to be borderline impossible to move.
Along the way to building their one-year dynasty, the Cubs also traded away their entire farm system, leaving them with a bottom-five farm system in the entire MLB. It won them the World Series in 2016 when they traded for Aroldis Chapman, but other than that, they are without assets to trade in the Minors.
Nolan Arenado is not going to come cheap, and for a team like the Rockies who are more or less rebuilding, they are going to want prospects. On top of that, Arenado comes with a $35M cap hit for the next five seasons before it drops some. Even if the Cubs do trade Kris Bryant away to clear room, that’s still a plus $17.5M change in salary.
The Cubs are going to want to stay under the salary cap and it’s borderline impossible for them to do that and acquire Arenado.
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I understand that the Cubs and Rockies may be interested, but when you get down to brass tax, it simply doesn’t make sense to say that the Cubs are a good fit for Arenado.