The Chicago Cubs are about to enter a new era in this upcoming 2015 season.
The arrival of Joe Maddon – one of the best managers in baseball in recent years– to replace Rick Renteria suggests that the front office is ready to go all in as the team is expected to contend this upcoming season. The renewal of Wrigley Field will give the ballpark a much-needed facelift, and all the new additions are expected to increase the team’s revenue for the upcoming years. The he young core is expected to take a step forward during the offseason after an impressive showing this year.
That being said, the Cubs still need some veterans to complement the younger players. Even though Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have a few seasons under their belts, both are in their mid-twenties and it would be too much to ask them to be the leaders of a team that’s looking to win the NL Central, arguably one of the toughest divisions in the Majors. And players like Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and – most likely a few weeks into the season – Kris Bryant, simply aren’t ready to embrace that kind of role either.
This year’s free agent class has plenty of options to complement the team in terms of quality while also adding some much-needed leadership in the clubhouse. Players like Jon Lester, Russell Martin and Jonny Gomes are all seen as potential “good-fits” for the organization, but there are some others that even though they’re coming off strong performances in recent years, wouldn’t be a good fit for what the Cubs are trying to implement.
The Cubs could use a veteran to come out of the bullpen, but that doesn’t mean they should pursue players like David Robertson (who’s coming off a good year with the New York Yankees) or Rafael Soriano from the Washington Nationals. Both are expected to be expensive – some have said Robertson is even likely to accept New York’s Qualifying Offer – and with a plethora of power arms coming through the ranks, the Cubs have younger and cheaper options available.
Melky Cabrera or Nelson Cruz would certainly boost the team’s production coming from the outfield but they wouldn’t be good fits considering what the Cubs are trying to implement both on and off the field. Both players have been targeted by the use of PEDs and neither is considered a particularly good fit on the clubhouse. Those things – added to the fact that both are likely to command multi-year, hefty deals in the open market – should be enough reason to keep the Cubs’ FO away from them.
Pablo Sandoval is another player who shouldn’t be targeted by the Cubs. Even though he would add plenty of things to the table – like the ability to switch-hit or his experience after winning three World Series in the past five years – he’s likely to command a big pay-day and the Cubs wouldn’t be nice to add him into the payroll. After all, Kris Bryant appears to be the team’s third baseman for the foreseeable future and if he ends up moving to the outfield, one of Castro, Addison Russell or Javier Baez should be able to handle that position quite well.
There are plenty of other options for the Cubs if they want to improve their roster. The team needs only a few pieces to be a major player in the NL and being only a few moves close to contend, the team needs to be particularly wise to add only the elements they need in the open market.