Chicago Cubs have only minor moves left to complete offseason
By Erik Mauro
After signing Yu Darvish on Saturday, the Chicago Cubs have very limited ‘needs’ as we approach the beginning of Spring Training 2018.
Looking at the Chicago Cubs roster as currently constructed, there would not be a glaring hole at first glance. That is to be expected given the team is just two years removed from a World Series title. Factor in a young core under team control for three-to-four more years and it makes even more sense.
But, still, no roster is perfect and the Cubs could make a few more moves to round things out and set themselves up for a potentially historic 2018 campaign.
Willson Contreras is not going anywhere, but he does need a day off occasionally. Victor Caratini has familiarity with the pitching staff from last year during his short stint in the big leagues. Chris Gimenez has familiarity with Darvish, having caught him in Texas. The Cubs are hoping Gimenez is a David Ross situation, a personal catcher for a prime free agent arm.
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The Cubs’ signing Darvish may force the front office to go with Gimenez over Caratini. If the right-hander really prefers to throw to his former Rangers battery mate, Caratini may simply be the odd man out in a tough situation.
We have, however, seen the Cubs go with three catchers in recent years. It’s not out of the question to believe they may do so again in 2018. Caratini could give Anthony Rizzo a blow at first or maybe even see corner outfield reps if an injury arises.
Looking at the outfield
In the outfield, things are interesting. Especially if you haven’t watched this team since Joe Maddon took control. The Cubs only have three official outfielders on the roster. Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Schwarber. They could do what they do best and rotate guys around, such as Kris Bryant, Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist. Even Contreras could give a few games in the outfield if asked.
The Cubs aren’t as thin here as it looks, but it may be nice to have some backup options, which is where Peter Bourjos comes in. Bourjos is a speedy outfielder who has an above average glove, posting a career 42 DRS around all three outfield positions. If the Cubs want the last roster spot to go to a bench guy, Bourjos is probably the best fit.
Still, after finally getting their guy in the rotation, these moves are pretty minimalistic. Chicago has a roster built to win championships – but those role guys always seem to play a critical part in title pursuits.