MLB Trade Rumors’ FA Projections Have Cubs Reuniting with Old Friend at No. 50, Jon Lester Heading Elsewhere

Free agency projections are always fraught with unpredictability, but never has that been more true than this year. Between the pandemic-shortened season resulting in financial upheaval across the league — as always, you can choose how much slack to cut owners here — and the expiration of the CBA, it’s hard to judge what kind of numbers these players can command. There’s also the weird stat lines and how those will factor.

All told, you have to season what follows with even more salt than usual. What we can say with relative certainty is that the Cubs are among those teams that will be looking for low-cost value as they attempt to trim both actual and luxury tax payrolls. That means you’re not going to see them mentioned very often among those suitors for the top free agents.

In fact, they don’t appear on MLB Trade Rumors’ projections until the very last player on the top 50 list: Chris Archer at one year and $4 million. I’m not taking this one seriously because I think it’s too much for a guy coming off of thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, particularly for a team like the Cubs that can’t really afford to miss badly in free agency.

While Archer could possibly recover, TOS is often a career-ender for pitchers. Matt Harvey is probably the best example of a guy who was able to pitch effectively afterwards, but the man who came back in 2017 following the corrective procedure wasn’t close to being worthy of the Dark Knight’s cowl. Hell, he couldn’t even wear George Clooney’s codpiece, though Kevin Plawecki might testify otherwise.

Even if “Archer is a starting pitcher teams can dream on a little bit if his recovery goes well,” the Cubs aren’t really in a position to dream. Speaking of which, this feels like Tim Dierkes of MLBTR is hedging his bets on the nostalgia of the Cubs bringing back their former prospect. While I can absolutely see that being the case on a minor-league deal, I’d be very surprised by a guaranteed contract.

As for some Cubs-adjacent predictions, we’ve got those in spades. Like Jon Lester to the Braves for $5 million, just slightly less than he spent to buy Chicagoans thousands of Miller Lites over the weekend. Okay, he only spent around $50K, but that’s a lot of barley sodas. It’s still possible the Cubs work something out on a cheap deal after paying Lester’s $10 million buyout, but he lives in Georgia and might like the idea of finishing his career near home.

Here’s a look at a few other players with Cubs ties of varying degrees:

3.  George Springer – White Sox.  Five years, $125M
5.  DJ LeMahieu – Blue Jays.  Four years, $68M
7.  Ha-Seong Kim – Rangers.  Five years, $40M (plus $7.625M posting fee)
18.  Joc Pederson – Cardinals.  Two years, $18M
19.  Jose Quintana – Red Sox.  Two years, $18M
30.  Tommy La Stella – Athletics.  Two years, $14M
44.  Drew Smyly – Giants.  One year, $5M
47.  Cole Hamels – Padres.  One year, $4M

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