Chicago Cubs: Roster might be set as we move towards spring training

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs are still in on talks with Yu Darvish, but nothing is guaranteed. But with the Manny Machado talks growing cold, and Darvish rumors are getting, well, boring? This roster might set for now.

In the course of about four days, the Chicago Cubs went from a big player in the free agent and trade market to somewhat non-existent. Much of that isn’t their fault, as the Baltimore Orioles have apparently decided to not part with Manny Machado. And the Yu Darvish talks have gone silent after most of the interested teams have met with him–and now we play the waiting game. But none of this is a bad thing, I swear.

Over the next two months, the Cubs will indeed make additions to the team. But whether any of them are notable is yet to be seen. The Darvish situation is the most probable as the Cubs are rumored to be the “front-runner,” although nothing is set in stone. Could Wade Davis come back up on the radar as they get closer to the spring? It could. When free agency started, I was sure the Cubs were getting Alex Cobb. That was a done deal. You just can’t predict the market, or how a player feels about a team.

Does roster bring comfort? Or dread?

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So with what the Cubs have, how do we feel about the roster? They’ve made some changes where they needed to. The added Tyler Chatwood to the rotation and added Branon Morrow and Steve Cishek to the bullpen.

The Cubs also added Drew Smyly who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery in July. He’s a piece that could have some benefit late in the season. But the Cubs aren’t counting on that.

The pen seems set, but that’s all depending on how you look at it. With Morrow, they have a closer. Maybe not an ideal one, but a capable one.

Not enough lefties?

One of the concerns when looking at the bullpen is with Mike Montgomery being slated as a starter; there’s only one lefty in Justin Wilson. I realize that might make some people a little more than nervous. We feel like he’s going to have a comeback year, but there’s always that chance he doesn’t.

So what are the options out there? The Cubs signed Dario Alvarez as a free agent from the Texas Rangers. You’ve also got Rob Zastryzny as another left-handed option. Neither has an extensive resume to go on. Alvarez put up strong numbers for the Rangers in 2017. He posted a 2.76 ERA, but his WHIP was 2.020 in just 16 1/3 innings. Zastryzny impressed in 2016 in a short period but couldn’t carry that over to the following year.

No Machado

With Addison Russell and Javier Baez not likely to be moved, the Cubs lineup will stay the same. After many of them had career years during the World Series winning year, many failed to replicate the production. But in the same way, the Cubs didn’t anticipate so many players regressing, they don’t expect them to struggle like that again. There are some questions in the lineup, such as Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist.

Everybody went to work in the offseason to get better, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will. Kyle Schwarber is out to prove people wrong that he can’t play the outfield. Zobrist is working to get in better shape for next season. And Heyward will always be questioned, especially when given the amount of money he was given. It was a marked improvement over the 2016 season, but still not good enough.

Next: What will Lester's legacy be?

As Christmas approaches, there are still some items on the Cubs “wishlist” for next year. They’d like another starter, and possibly a backup catcher. At this point, you could look at every position and say you could improve. But that starts getting outside of the financials and what the Cubs are capable of–or are willing to spend.