The off-season for the Chicago Cubs has been filled with many rumors and little action. The biggest changes to take place this winter were the personnel turnover in the team’s front office. The biggest move that will be discussed as the Cubs head into the 2012 season is the one that sent Theo Epstein to the Cubs’ to head their baseball department as the president of baseball operations. Following Epstein to the Cubs’ front office, were former Padres’ general manager Jed Hoyer and former Padres’ scouting director Jason McLeod. Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod have a plan of action, but little is known about that plan.
Leaving the Cubs’ fans with rumors and little movement. Though, that may soon change. The Matt Garza trade rumors have increased over the past couple of weeks, and the Cubs’ remain interested in free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. However, neither the Garza trade nor the Fielder signing appear to be close. But the Cubs may already have a new addition in the fold.
One theoretical Cubs’ target that may have been forgotten about is free agent outfielder Coco Crisp. Shortly after the Cubs signed David DeJesus, rumors surfaced that the team was also interested in DeJesus’ former Athletics’ teammate. Crisp would certainly fall under the same category of the the Cubs additions of DeJesus, and third baseman Ian Stewart. Crisp is a proven veteran that struggled during the 2011 season. With the Athletics’ in 2011, Crisp posted a line of .264/.314/.379/.693 in 531 at bats. The upside is that Crisp was the American League leader in steals with 49.
Crisp has flown under the radar this off-season as the only rumored suitors for the veteran outfielder have been the Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, and St Louis Cardinals. Considering the Cardinals already signed Carlos Beltran this off-season, it would seem logical to rule out St Louis as a possible destination for Crisp. The Cardinals are not only team being ruled out as Crisp and his agent have ruled out all but one team. Crisp’s agents, Steve Comte, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Crisp knows the team that he will be playing for in 2012.
In the report, Slusser mentions that Cubs may be the front-runner to sign Crisp. Couple that with the cryptic tweet that WBBM’s Cub Insider George Ofman sent out, it would be fair to predict that Crisp has decided to play for the Cubs in 2012. Crisp is already familiar with Epstein and Hoyer, and the Cubs have long-been seeking a true lead-off man. While Crisp’s defensive skills may have fallen off from his earlier days, the veteran outfielder would be a major upgrade defensively over left fielder Alfonso Soriano. The belief is that the Cubs are interested in Crisp playing left field.
If the Cubs do indeed sign Crisp, that would signal that either Soriano’s or center fielder Marlon Byrd‘s time with the Cubs is coming to an end. With recent unsuccessful attempts to trade Soriano earlier this winter, it would seem more likely that Byrd will be traded at some point before opening day. Both the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox are believed to have interest in Byrd. The Cubs would essentially be swapping Byrd for Crisp. Like Byrd, Crisp has occasional pop in his bat and is an above average fielder. The only difference would come on the base paths where Crisp is the much better athlete.
With the Cubs rumored to be interested in Crisp in addition to Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes, one may question the new Cubs’ regime’s fondness for top prospect Brett Jackson.