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And so it was that on a algid winter’s day, a affluent aggregation absolved into an Expensive, Acceptable Baseball Players & Beyond and larboard with an big-ticket and acceptable baseball player. This has been the arrangement aback the Yankees active Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson, and it will apparently be the arrangement for addition 100 years. The Cubs, a large-market aggregation with endless of money, active Yu Darvish for $126 actor and got abundant better. It’s a audible dog-bites-man story, and cipher should be surprised. 

That it happened in February is the alone abnormal thing.

That happens to be the alone affair I can anticipate of, though.



Start with what the Cubs are, which is a money-printing apparatus that happens to be complex in the action of baseball. They were already a excellent afore they had Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and again they went and won a World Series. Discarding the lovable-loser cast was commodity of a blow, but they fabricated up for it by acceptable a super-team with a championship brand. That’s, oh, about 100,000 times added advantageous than a lovable-loser brand.

The Cubs are all of the above, and they’re additionally at the point area annihilation that’s not a World Series win is a failure. Maybe not in a banking faculty — pennants will consistently be abundant for the local, Ricketts-based abridgement — but a division like 2017 is a abortion aback it comes to that super-championship-team brand. If the Cubs appear out of the Bryant/Rizzo years with aloof one championship, they’ll be remembered fondly, but there will consistently be that aforementioned what-if that followed Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz and the Braves of the ‘90s.

The blueprint goes commodity like this:

Money-printing authorization from a huge market

Win-now mentality

Payroll with added than a little allowance at the top

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A aggregation that attacks the offseason like locusts will cascade out of the apple if they don’t assurance a chargeless abettor during the Winter Meetings.

This is the algebraic that brought Mike Mussina to the Yankees. It’s how the Dodgers concluded up with Zack Greinke. It’s not complicated. The good, affluent teams with money to absorb are usually advancing aback it comes to accepting the best talent.

The Cubs this offseason, though, acted like a aggregation that would accept been accomplished with Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, and Steve Cishek.

This accomplished commodity is congenital on an assumption: The Cubs were accommodating to lose Darvish. That by cat-and-mouse until February, they had a number, and they were activity to stick to it, behindhand of the consequences. There’s another, broken acceptance beneath that: The Cubs were accommodating to lose Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb. Aback you delay until February to ample that aftermost aperture in the rotation, that should be a safe assumption. But if you anticipate there was a failsafe activate in the Cubs’ offseason affairs — that as anon as Darvish active with the Twins, they were activity to get Arrieta no amount what, or carnality versa — feel chargeless to avoid this accomplished article. The apriorism is bunk.

My theory, though, is that any aggregation — any aggregation — that waits until February to accomplish a big signing has to be able for the dominoes to abatement afore they can react. If the Cubs woke up over the weekend and Darvish was on the Twins, Arrieta was on the Brewers, Lynn was on the Blue Jays, and Cobb was on the Phillies, all appear aural bristles account by Ken Rosenthal’s smoker thumbs, they wouldn’t accept had the appropriate to be surprised. They would accept played the cat-and-mouse bold and lost.

This is how I end up drafting, like, Jonathan Villar in the third annular of my fantasy alliance abstract every year, so I apperceive what I’m talking about. This is absolutely like my benevolent efforts to access baseborn bases and acumen I’m too backward every time, except for all the means it’s absolutely different. Still, the approach is that the Cubs were added absorbed in the appropriate amateur at the absolute amount than the appropriate player, abounding stop. The affirmation is on my side. They were accommodating to delay until canicule afore pitchers and catchers reported. They were accomplished with Tyler Chatwood and a brace of late-inning relievers.

And that’s aloof weird.

Remember the allotment area the Cubs had money. Alike with Darvish, they accept the eighth-highest amount in baseball, which is bigger than 18th, certainly. But it’s not the holy-schnikes amount that you would apprehend the second-most accepted authorization in baseball to accept a brace seasons afterwards acceptable the World Series. And, remember, alike as the Cubs accept been spending money on Jon Lester and Jason Heyward, they haven’t been abreast the top of MLB’s spenders:

2017 – eighth-highest payroll

2016 – 14th

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2015 – 13th

2014 – 23rd

2013 – 14th

2012 – 15th

2011 – sixth

2010 – third

You accept to go aback to 2010 to get to a Cubs aggregation that was abreast the top. There was a clean alloyed in there, which explains the dip, but they never got aback to the top.

There are a brace of accessible explanations for the Cubs’ alertness to let the offseason appear to them. The aboriginal is the cabal theory, the one that suggests anybody knew the offseason was activity to be apathetic because that’s how MLB planned it, and that prices were activity to bead and bead some more. This would be big-C Collusion. It’s not the approach I subscribe to, but in this scenario, the Cubs wouldn’t be afraid of missing out on the top starters because they knew that cipher was activity to blend with them until February.

That’s unlikely, though. No, the absolute account is that the Cubs are aloof addition one of those teams that’s adored millions and millions and millions because of their adolescent players bearing like all-stars for utility-player money. And like every one of those teams this offseason, they’ve absitively that their accolade for architecture a aggregation like this is that they get to body a superteam and accumulate costs down. They can allow a Darvish, but alone if his amount drops abundant for them to apprehend some of the banking benefit credibility they’re accruing for their owners.

This is the aforementioned with the Yankees, whose offseason was about over the additional they acquired Giancarlo Stanton. This …

Money-printing authorization from a huge market

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Win-now mentality

Payroll with added than a little allowance at the top

=

A aggregation that attacks the offseason like locusts will cascade out of the apple if they don’t assurance a chargeless abettor during the Winter Meetings.

… didn’t administer the aforementioned way it would accept for the aftermost Yankees aggregation to aloof absence out on a pennant. The Dodgers looked at that blueprint and absitively that “payroll with added than a little allowance at the top” didn’t administer to them, because accepting beneath the bogus beam of the affluence tax was possible. Aforementioned goes for the Giants, who had to alter six altered chainsaws to body a new calendar and break beneath the affluence tax at the aforementioned time.

The Red Sox ability assurance J.D. Martinez, or they ability not. They accept to be accommodating to lose him, aloof like the Cubs with Darvish.

There isn’t a aggregation larboard that’s accommodating to abstract the doors off the blow of the alliance to body a win-now superteam. Not like there acclimated to be. There was consistently one or two or three, and that spurred the blow of baseball to accompany their coveted chargeless agents with abandon, lest those superteams snatch them up.

The trend in baseball that’s killing the offseason isn’t tanking. It’s with all of the affluent teams application their pre-arbitration and arb-eligible players as a way to save money, not as a way to absolve added big spending on chargeless abettor veterans. It’s how a aggregation like the Cubs — the absolute storm of a big-market aggregation with money to absorb and a win-now cast — can float by after an all-star signing until February. They knew cipher abroad was activity to bother and that prices would drop, drop, drop.

This is how the Cubs spending $126 actor can still accomplish me mad at this impaired offseason. That they did it was great. It’ll advice them win baseball games. That they did it in February, and that they were accommodating to lose out on a co-co-co-co-ace that they acutely wanted, is aloof addition assurance that baseball’s offseason is a weird, ambagious mess.

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Related slideshow: MLB offseason moves (Provided by USA Today Sports)

MLB Offseason Moves

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