Chicago Cubs: Time to adjust course before Winter Meetings


After missing out on Jordan Zimmermann, the Chicago Cubs will still win this offseason – despite what the doubters may think.

Last week, I offered up my take on what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer needed to do to have the ideal offseason – and, of course, those plans included signing Zimmermann, one of the most talented free agent starting pitchers on the market.

However, after first-year Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila swooped in, signing the former Washington right-hander to a five-year, $110 million deal this weekend, the Cubs’ brain trust will have to re-focus and reevaluate the current status of things moving forward.

Epstein and Hoyer aren’t likely to be caught flat-footed; they’re too talented for this. This isn’t the type of front office that throws all their eggs in one basket, and, by now, they’re already onto their next option, working the phones.

So, now – Chicago has two options moving forward: continue down the free agent market or look to upgrade via trade.

With free agency comes risk. Zimmermann was, in my mind, the only real top-tier option outside of Zack Greinke and David Price, both of whom are likely to command deals near or above $200 million this winter.

From there, you have the likes of Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Wei-Yin Chen and Ian Kennedy – none of whom are what I would consider course-altering options for the Cubs, or any other team for that matter.

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Luckily, the North Siders don’t need a course-altering arm. They need to add depth and quality to the starting rotation, something all of these names would provide. Adding Zimmermann to the front-end combination of Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta would have been nice, but now’s the time to alter course.

If the Chicago Cubs go out and add two of those aforementioned names (or other options of comparable quality), you have to like the team’s chances heading into 2016. Of-late, we’ve looked at several options (more on that here and here) – including, most recently, John Lackey.

Don’t panic.

Missing out on Zimmermann doesn’t mean the team should start burning money in an effort to land David Price or Zack Greinke. It’s middle-of-the-road, cost-controlled arms that will help Chicago win the offseason and push forward next year – not sinking $200 million in one player, regardless of his talent and ability.