Chicago Cubs: Not shoring up this core is nothing short of negligent

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: It’s bigger than money at this point, isn’t it?

Obviously, one of the Cubs’ biggest storylines is their pursuit of major free agents this winter – well, really, their lack thereof. In an offseason headlined by two superstar talents in their mid-20s (Bryce Harper and Manny Machado), Chicago has seemingly decided that right now is the time they’ll stop spending.

"“But frankly, we have one of the largest budgets in all of baseball. We put that to work, we’ve definitely signed a lot of players over the years. We have a team that we like. We have a team that we think is going to go a long way. We have a team that won 95 games last year without a lot of help from some of the guys we picked up last offseason,” Ricketts said, “And all the different things that we fought through last year – the injuries, everyone’s having kind of down years, some of the off-field distractions…we like our club.  And we’re among the very top spenders. So, I just think all that stuff’s kind of misguided.”"

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First, he’s not wrong in most of what he says here. In the last four years, Chicago has doled out significant contracts to the likes of Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Morrow, Tyler Chatwood and Yu Darvish.  The Cubs, did, in case you’ve forgotten, win 95 games. But winning 95 games means jack-diddly when you lose to the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card game. 

Injuries? Well, two of the aforementioned big signings, Morrow and Darvish, both missed more than half the season with injuries. Speaking of those two right-handers, according to Ricketts, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein knew that if he added those two, this would be a quiet winter.

"“When you make any free agent signing – not to pick on Darvish – you know you can’t spend that dollar twice, and you have to budget that into the future. So that’s going to limit what you can do the following year … One of the things we knew coming into this offseason was that we weren’t going to have as much flexibility as years past. We didn’t have big contracts coming off. We didn’t have a lot more cash coming in.”"

I have a hard time believing the Cubs would go out and give Darvish $126 million or Chatwood $39 million knowing it would prevent them from pursuing a generational talent in Bryce Harper this winter. Perhaps more relevant, though, is why they would then pick up a $20 million option on left-hander Cole Hamels to kick off the offseason if that were the case.

Really, it makes no sense.