Chicago Cubs holding out in free agency is a dangerous game

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs–or anyone else, for that matter–has done much in the free agent market. But the Cubs could be playing a dangerous game if they wait too long.

At the end of the season, the Chicago Cubs‘ Theo Epstein gave his address, discussing the fact that the Cubs might need to deal from the talent at the major league level to attain pitching. Many took that as a “this is happening” moment and tried to figure out who the Cubs would be without once we got to 2018. Kyle Schwarber seemed to be the obvious choice because he’s an AL hitter–what does that even mean? And the rest of the young guys like Happ, Baez, Russell and Almora were all in the mix.

If the Cubs go that route, we might not know for a little bit. But one thing the team isn’t doing is being proactive in the free agent market. There might be several reasons for that. The first might be Shohei Otani. But let’s be honest. If he makes you balk at spending money, you probably shouldn’t sign him.

Making them wait?

There is also the theory that teams are making free agents “wait it out”. The reason? If a player doesn’t think he’ll have a job, he might sign for less. There’s no factual info for this, but it’s an intriguing thought to ponder. But the Cubs aren’t guaranteed to get any of the free agents they are targeting. So this creates a dangerous game for them.

Right out of the gate in the offseason, the Cubs were linked to Alex Cobb. From his history with new Cubs’ pitching coach Jim Hickey to a desire to play in Chicago he seems like a solid fit. But here we are entering the first of December, and nothing has happened. In fact, there have been only three free agent signings to this point. Well below the norm.

Plenty of options, no takers

The Cubs have been linked to several relievers, including Bryan Shaw, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson just to name a few. But it seems like the Cubs might be cleaning out relievers with the talk of non-tendering Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm (both could still sign with the Cubs but for less money), and the fact the Twins have their eye on Justin Wilson.

As of now, the Cubs have several irons in the fire but nothing close to being done. And if the Cubs were to non-tender Rondon and Grimm and lose them, they’d be in even worse shape. Look, say what you want about them, but replacing them with just anyone isn’t a guarantee. I think the Cubs would at least like to keep them in-house and go into spring training with them. From there, we’ll see. But you never know what can happen in the spring.

The Cubs aren’t the only ones playing the waiting game in free agency. But once it happens, it will happen fast. Considering the needs of the Cubs’ staff, I’d like to see them make some moves sooner than later. Even if the Cubs choose to not trade any of the young talent (they shouldn’t just yet, IMO), they need to make some headway in the free agent market.

Next: Cubs, Rays may be ideal trade partners

The Cubs may have waited until the last minute in 2015 when the signed Dexter Fowler, but the rest of the division is gunning for them. They don’t have the luxury of waiting around this time. They’re going to need to make a decision soon, or else they might get left in the free agent cold.