Now that the World Series has concluded, teams now have the next five days to have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents. The Chicago Cubs have one player eligible for free agency, and that is Xavier Nady. However, the Chicago Cubs do not anticipate bringing Nady back next season. So, instead of the working with their own free agents, since they have none, expect the Chicago Cubs to begin to target the players in free agency that they want. Heading into the Hot Stove season, the Chicago Cubs need a left handed power hitter, a starting pitcher, and probably a second baseman to be able to contend for the Division title next season. At this point, almost every baseball insider has the Chicago Cubs as the favorites to sign Adam Dunn. Some expect the Chicago Cubs are ready to make a 3 year/ $40MM offer for Adam Dunn as soon as the Cubs have the right to talk to Adam Dunn on Sunday Morning at 12:00 AM.
However, despite the Cubs being labeled as the favorites to sign Dunn, many people are still trying to figure out where the Cubs are going to come up with the money to sign Dunn in the first place.
Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told the media and season ticket holders that the Cubs major league payroll will be decreasing from the approximate $144MM they started the 2010 season with. With the Chicago Cubs payroll of players who already committed for the 2011 season being around $125MM-$128MM, it would appear that the Chicago Cubs are going to have to be creative if they want to add Adam Dunn this winter.
By saying creative, General Manager Jim Hendry will probably have to revert to his 2009 form when he traded Mark DeRosa and let Kerry Wood walk to give the Cubs the ability to sign Milton Bradley to a 3 year/ $30MM contract. Hendry is likely trying to pull of the same strategy this winter in order to get Adam Dunn. The Chicago Cubs will be aggressively trying to trade Kosuke Fukudome and the $13.5MM he is owed next season, in order to have room to offer the 3 year/$40MM contract to Adam Dunn.
But, I think it is fair that I bring up this question, is Adam Dunn really worth it? Sure, Dunn has hit 35+ home runs in each of his past seven seasons and driven in over 100 Runs in 6 of those seven seasons. But, Dunn has also struck out over 160+ times in 7 of his 9 seasons including 199 times this season, and has a career average of .250. That doesn’t even delve into the fact that he has been a defensive liability for his team no matter what position he played at. And, considering how bad the Chicago Cubs were defensively last season, is Dunn really worth $40MM?
To me it is a simple answer, and that is hell no! By throwing away $40MM on Adam Dunn, the Chicago Cubs would be left with nothing when it comes to adding a starting pitcher, second baseman, bench help, or reliever. So, instead of going all out for a designated hitter to play first base on a National League team, the Cubs should look at other options.
I honestly feel that the Chicago Cubs would be best off signing cheaper first baseman to a one year deal, and then look to hit it big when Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols are all potential free agents.
Here is a list at cheaper alternative options the Chicago Cubs are probably looking at, instead of adding Adam Dunn.
2010 Line: .261/.320/.468 25 Home Runs, 100 RBI’s
2010 Line: .290/.385/.506 26 Home Runs, 86 RBI’s
2010 Line: .243/.329/.433 20 Home Runs, 67 RBI’s
Of those three, I think it is rather obvious that Aubrey Huff would be the best option. In fact, he may be a better option than Adam Dunn for what the Chicago Cubs are looking for. Huff has the ability to play 1B,3B,RF, and LF and has showed that he is a good hitter who not only hits for average, but also for power.
The wild-card in all of this is Adrian Gonzalez and the San Diego Padres. The Padres figure to be shopping Gonzalez this winter, who has a very favorable contract at $5.5MM for 2011. Considering that the Chicago Cubs spent last off-season trying to trade for Gonzalez, and Gonzalez stated that he would love to play in Chicago, you have to figure that the Cubs will be in the middle of any trade talks involving Gonzalez. The Cubs would likely have to part ways with one of two of their top pitching prospects in Chris Archer, Jay Jackson, Andrew Cashner, or Chris Carpenter. The Cubs also would likely have to include a top position prospect to go along with two of their top pitching prospects. I’m sure Josh Vitters, Hak-Ju Lee, Robinson Chirinos, and maybe Tyler Colvin would all be options to be included in a package to get Gonzalez.
As you see the Chicago Cubs may be better off passing on Adam Dunn, as it appears that sooner or later they are going to have the chance to get Adrian Gonzalez.