Yesterday we discussed the ho-hum offseason for the Southside Sox who have made marginal moves by not picking up Alexei Ramirez’s $10 Million option and signing two catchers to replace Tyler Flowers in Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro. Today it’s time to switch to the Northside and see what’s been going on at the corner of Clark & Addison. Quick recap of last season has been highly known around the country, but as a reminder the Cubs finished with the third best record in baseball behind their two NL Central counterparts in Pittsburgh and St. Louis while making it to the NLCS where they fell in a four game sweep to the New York Mets.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been quite busy this holiday season rebuilding their infield adding some starting pitching depth and adding to their bullpen. Yesterday the Cubs pulled off two moves nearly simultaneously with the four year contract of highly coveted free agent utility man Ben Zobrist while trading away SS Stralin Castro the Yankees for 28-year old Adam Warren who was 7-7 with a 3.29ERA last year in 17 starts. Warren can be used as a starter or long reliever, but he’s a quality arm that should help the Cubs next year. The Cubs also got Brendan Ryan a 33-year old SS who has been with the Yankees since 2013 when he was traded from the Mariners where he spent two and a half years.
Castro was a decent offensive player, but was atrocious defensively and Addison Russell clearly owns the job after what he did last year. Ben Zobrist can play three positions in the infield and even some corner outfield if need be. He’ll most likely be the Cubs 2B next season where he’ll split time with Javier Baez on occasions. The Cubs infield will look something like Rizzo, Zobrist, Russell, Bryant, and either Schwarber or Montero behind the plate with David Ross catching occasionally for Jon Lester.
Kris Bryant is an interesting player because he could be moved to any of the three outfield positions to pair with Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan. If Dexter Fowler does return, the Cubs would have an abundance of riches on their hands in terms where they can plug players in. Fowler rejected his qualifying offer which means the Cubs do get compensation back if another team is to sign him. The Cubs have lost their first round pick by signing Jon Lackey.
The Cubs of course could still make another trade of even more significance. They have a cornucopia of talent both major league ready and in the farm system. Although they have called up a lot of their blue chip prospects some still remain in the minors who could get something of significant value in return. However after what Shelby Miller was traded for, perhaps Theo knows the trade market is carrying a hefty price tag with any talent. Dansby Swanson was the number one overall pick in June, and he and another first rounder were part of the deal that sent Miller to Arizona to pair with Greinke.
Chicago’s biggest issue now is where to play all these people which is why there could be another shoe to drop in terms of another acquisition. Baez is the most likely person to be moved now that the Cubs have Zobrist, however if Bryant were used in the outfield as well it could allow Baez to play 3B on occasions. As it stand the Cubs have too many infielders and not a set outfield. The Cubs definitely need more bullpen help but those issues can be solved during the season or even after they get to spring training. Jon Lackey was signed to a two year deal and will the Cubs third starter behind Lester and Arrietta, but in front of Hendricks and Hammel.