Chicago Cubs: Who were the best free agent bargains in franchise history?

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Jul 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs’ Theo Epstein and crew have a talent for signing under-valued free agents. But do the recent signings rank with the Cubs all-time best free agent bargains?

This off-season has been marked by some big-name players coming to the Cubs to collect some big paychecks. Most notably, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist will be hitting the field for the Cubs this season–and hopefully several more.

In order to attain their services, the Cubs had to promise top-dollar contracts.

Just a couple of years ago, the Cubs were reluctant to offer big money contracts. Instead, they signed “rebound” players–players who were coming off down seasons or injuries who would demand less money but could potentially be impact players.

The strategy worked well–not necessarily in terms of wins and losses, but in terms of the Cubs being able to add value to the team through player trades. Jake Arrieta and Addison Russell are both products of the Cubs sign, produce, and trade strategy.

If the Cubs are going to add any more players to the roster for 2016, after having already signed Heyward, Zobrist and John Lackey, they will likely need to hit the bargain bin again.

The Cubs have gotten excellent value from some low-level signings. Let’s see if you remember some of these good players who came with low costs. On the following slides are the Cubs best “bargain” signings.

There a few ground rules for this list: first, that the player came to the Cubs at well below market value. Second, international, amateur free agents don’t count (that’s too similar to the draft). Thirdly, we’re only counting signings of the modern free agent period (post-1976).

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