Chicago Cubs: Eight weeks until Spring Training and still crickets

Theo Epstein, David Ross, Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Theo Epstein, David Ross, Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The case for a reload

Tear down? Rebuild? Nonsense!  The argument here is that the Cubs just need to add a couple of key pieces to compete in 2020 and beyond.

The Cubs must address the starting rotation.  One common denominator among teams like the Astros and Dodgers is three top-of-the-rotation arms in the staff.  For the Astros, that was Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke. For the Dodgers, it was Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler.

Even the World Series champion Washington Nationals knew as much: Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin anchored the rotation and brought aa championship back to D.C. in 2019.

If you consider the 2016 Cubs with Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks, the 2019 rotation clearly wasn’t up to snuff. The staff was too old and lacked quality depth. For the Cubs in 2020, you’re betting on Darvish and Hendricks.  Lester’s fade is likely going to continue as he’s another year older and while Quintana has been a solid innings eater and takes the mound reliably every five days, he’s not a ‘go-to’ arm by any stretch.

So if we’re supplementing the pitching staff and trying to win now – let’s start here:

  1. Sign Dallas Keuchel. Problem solved, mostly. While he would slot in just below a top-tier pitcher, he is solid enough to boost the rotation significantly.  Except that estimates are that Keuchel could go for around $20 million annually.  That probably means no Nicholas Castellanos or any other free agents. Oh, and “you know who” is his agent.
  2. Trade for a Jacob deGrom or Marcus Stroman type pitcher. The challenge here is that trading for a power arm will require tapping the farm system and likely subtract from your big league core as well.
  3. Roll the dice on Tyler Chatwood, Adbert Alzolay, Alec Mills or one of the other roster acquisitions stepping up.  With the Cubs new Pitch Lab, who knows what rabbits could be pulled from what hats?