Chicago Cubs: What will next year’s roster look like?

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Remember this guy?

The Cubs have two major holes on their roster: a legitimate leadoff hitter and a bona fide ace. If I were Theo Epstein, these would be my areas of concentration this offseason. While there aren’t a ton of those prototypical high OBP/runs well leadoff guys in baseball at all, there are some who the Cubs might be able to pry away from their current teams via trade this offseason. Problem is, they’re also some of the best players in baseball and fans will not like how much they cost in return.

Mookie Betts of the Red Sox and Francisco Lindor of the Indians are two players who seem to be in the same boat as Bryant. While they are phenomenal players any team would want on their roster, they also are going to command a ton of money on the free market in short order and their respective teams may not be willing to spend that kind of money.

If the Cubs are serious about getting back to the World Series, they need to go after one of these two guys. Putting a Betts or Lindor at the top of the lineup automatically makes our lineup one of the best and deepest in baseball. The best part is that both guys are also great defenders and just about to hit their prime. The downside: we wouldn’t have them for very long unless we could work out a very expensive extension.

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Gerrit Cole would do the same thing for the Cubs rotation that a Lindor or Betts would do for the lineup it would instantly make everyone better and push everyone down a slot. Instead of going into the season with Kyle Hendricks as your “ace,” he would now be your second-best starter. That would push Yu Darvish to third in the rotation and Jon Lester fourth.

Even taking into account his diminishing returns and age, any rotation with Lester as your fourth best starter is a monster. While he’s not the guy he was five years ago, he’s still capable of spinning a gem any time he goes out there.

Bringing in a guy like Cole might be just the kind of jumpstart the entire staff needs to bring their “A” game every night. Ditto for Strasburg if the Cubs decide to go that way.

If they don’t go for a big splash, contact will be the order of the game on the offensive side, with a veteran presence prefered. Someone like Howie Kendrick might be targeted, although if Ben Zobrist were to want a cheap swan song, I’m sure the Cubs would consider it from a guy who is the ultimate contact/OBP presence.