June 15, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Just breathe. I promise we’re going to get through this.
Cubs fans are in full-blown panic mode over the activity – or lack thereof – of the Chicago front office so far this offseason. I, personally, chalk this up to several things. First, the offseason market is moving quickly this year. Several major signings and trades have taken place already, and we haven’t even reached the Winter Meetings yet.
Secondly, fans are beginning to grow impatient with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s rebuilding process.
The team signed catcher George Kottaras and infielder Donnie Murphy to one-year contracts Monday and tendered contracts to seven arbitration-eligible players including, second baseman Darwin Barney, pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Pedro Strop, James Russell, infielder Luis Valbuena and outfielder Nate Schierholtz. For a breakdown of the signings and offers, check out our coverage of the moves here.
None of these moves are going to turn many – if any – heads around the league. Kottaras is an intriguing option for the team in terms of a backup for Welington Castillo, but his offense has been lackluster. However, he does get on base at a pretty respectable pace, which is a key for the team’s ability to manufacture runs in 2014.
The largest rumor surrounding the Cubs’ offseason has been the on-and-off discussions with several teams concerning the services of right-hander Jeff Samardzija. According to reports, two suitors – the Toronto Blue Jays and the Arizona Diamondbacks – appear to be the most interested of the bunch.
Chicago’s asking price on their right-hander is said to be tremendously high, including as many as four-to-five prospects, which for obvious reasons makes this a much more drawn-out process. Epstein is also said to be continuing discussions with the ace in hopes of signing him to a long-term extension.
A handful of rumors from national MLB beat writers have connected the Cubs as long-shot candidates to land a major piece, such as second baseman Robinson Cano or outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but no substantive talks have surfaced of yet. Again, this shouldn’t be a major surprise to fans. Major deals tend to happen either during or after the Winter Meetings, despite this year’s contrasting trend that has included the signings of Brian McCann and the rumored signings of Brian Wilson with the Dodgers and Joe Nathan with the Tigers. That’s not to mention the blockbuster trade that shocked the baseball world, sending Prince Fielder to Texas in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler.
The Cubs have several major holes to fill this offseason, but early on this winter, it appears the team will put together one more stopgap offseason with deals like those offered to Nate Schierholtz and others in the past few years that allow the front office to turn around and flip them in July should suitors come calling.