The common question that Chicago Cubs fans ask during the off-season is when will the Cubs spend money? There is a particular group of Cubs fans that figure that since the Cubs are a perceived big market team, the team should sign high priced free agents in order to accelerate the the rebuilding process and put the team into contention for the following season. Then, there is the new majority of Cubs fans. The majority that realize that Theo Epstein and the new regime that is at the head of the Cubs baseball department do not simply want to put a band-aid on the team in order to win for the short term. The Cubs office is determined to generate sustained long-term success through building the organization from the ground up. That would be why Epstein has already gone on record as to saying that the 2013 season for the Cubs may not be much better on the field than the 2012 season was.
The Cubs are not finished with their process of turning short term assets into long term assets. The likes of Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza, David DeJesus, and Carlos Marmol could all be considered short term assets. Meaning those are players that the front office may expect to trade over the next two seasons. The same can be said about the potential players that the Cubs bring in during the off-season.
Speaking of which, expect the Cubs to spend money this off-season. The Cubs have approximately $40 million committed to the 2013 roster, meaning the team will spend an additional $60 to $70 million over the next few months. But if you are expecting the Cubs spend most of their available resources on one player—Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke–then you would be mistaking. As Patrick Mooney pointed out on Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, expect the Cubs to make several ripples this off-season as opposed to making one big splash. Mooney highlighted three areas where the Cubs may spend their money this off-season. Those three areas were the starting rotation, the bullpen, and the third base position.
It has been suggested several times over the past couple weeks that the Cubs will target one or two starting pitchers that have a similar track record to that of Paul Maholm. Maholm being the pitcher that the Cubs signed last off-season before trading him along with outfielder Reed Johnson to the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline this season. There are several pitchers who figure to meet that criteria for the Cubs. Francisco Liriano, Joe Saunders, and Scott Feldman are three pitchers that the Cubs may pursue this off-season. As for the third base position, Kevin Youkilis will undoubtedly interest the Cubs–but if he re-ups with the White Sox or prices himself out of the Cubs’ range–it would seem likely that the team would have to trade for a third baseman if they are indeed looking to improve that position.
I’m not so sure that the Cubs will invest too much into the bullpen. The Cubs have several pitching prospects that could blossom into effective relievers for the Major League team. Even if the team did opt to trade closer Carlos Marmol this winter, there are several options already on the team that could fill the position.
Expect the Cubs to be among the most active teams this off-season as the front office continues their rebuilding project for the entire organization.