A wild blog post appears!
To paraphrase something Theo Epstein said during the 2015 playoffs*, whoever wins the World Series will prove the Right Way to Win and every other team will follow suit in the offseason. In 2016 the conventional wisdom has turned out to be having a relief ace or two that you can ride to death in the playoffs. Just witness that the Cardinals have jumped out in front to sign Brett Cecil to a 4/30 deal. Cecil is better than his 2016 numbers and front offices are way more numerate than in the Jim Hendry days, but I'd still think that teams might ask for a bit of a discount on a reliever who nearly posted a 4.00 ERA, whatever his BABIP/strand rate/HR per FB might be.
*I can't find the quote since "Theo Epstein World Series" was more or less googlebombed by some assholes this October
When it comes to filling the big, whiff of human garbage smelling hole left by Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs have a few options:
To be honest I'm leaning towards number four here myself, but I can take off my Randy Wells colored glasses for a second and note that while Rondon was a dominant reliver pre-injury, he has not looked good since returning. I thought Strop did look good but Joe obviously did not, given how he used him in the playoffs. If anything last year's team proved that depth was important, and it would be pretty interesting to peek into the alternate universe where someone else traded for Chapman and Strop and Rondon went down not long after. It's easy to say this now that the Cubs finally have that championship (dying laughing).
As far as the big names go, I thought when I started this that there was one clear option:
|Draft pick compensation||N||Y||N|
I think I'd still take Mark Melancon over both of those guys, but it's not quite as big of a gap as I thought. I'm too old to chase down the weak contact numbers on Melancon, but I bet they're pretty good considering how many cutters he throws. Normally I'd say he costs less too, but if this is a market where Brett Cecil is getting 4/30 and Chapman is looking for seven figures everyone is going to be overpaid. They might be able to get a good deal in the relative sense for Melancon though, considering that Chapman cost Gleyber Torres while Melancon cost a MLB-level relief pitcher and a live arm in A-ball at the trade deadline.
Working against Chapman, aside from whatever penalty you may feel his past actions might incur on the fanbase (again), is the chance that something could happen again off the field. But even aside from that there are enough questions on the field to balk at offering him a long term deal. While Chapman was more than game to go multiple innings in the playoffs, I still think it's something he's relatively uncomfotable with compared to guys like Jansen, Miller, etc. He was clearly gassed in game seven, though blame for that can certianly be spread around. And to be fair, Andrew Miller wasn't exactly himself by the end of that marathon of a series. Fanfuckingtastic story as it was, I don't think David Ross homers off a rested Miller. But I do think this is another shadow cast over Chapman, even if I'm engaging in some NYT-worthy innuendo here. Finally, as we've seen from time to time when Chapman does get gassed, he's much more hittable throwing 98-99 than most other relievers. The inexorable passage of time destroys all, and while Chapman is the youngest of the big three I think it's easy to see him having the biggest dropoff if he hits a setback.
Based on my extremely subjective eyeball norm, Jansen had much less of a problem with multiple innings when asked. He also came to pitching late so he may have more bullets left in his arm than most of these guys when they hit free agency. But he costs a draft pick to sign, and that is the kind of capital that this front office hates to part with. Everything has its price, and without the compensation he'd be the easy pick here. At least in this case the pick that the Cubs would stand to lose would be at the end of the first round, probably just before the pick they stand to get for Fowler if they don't resign him. Chances are they'll get the guy they want, though not two of them. Or the bonus pool money. If Fowler is not in their plans they could make a play here anyway.
My own preferences would be
1. No one (and re-sign Fowler)