Chicago Cubs: Will they sign an affordable piece or move guys around?
Let’s just say Hoyer and the Cubs are so tight with their checkbooks this offseason, they decide not to sign an everyday outfielder. In what would go down as arguably the cheapest of decisions in the history of this franchise, the team can throw Bryant in left field, and slide either David Bote or Nico Hoerner at third base. The team could also put Hoerner somewhere in left or center field as we have seen a handful of times this past season.
Could this work? Possibly, but I really hope it doesn’t come down to any of those scenarios. I don’t see how the team would improve from a season ago simply by shifting players around, as opposed to bringing in some new faces. Otherwise the Cubs are better off bringing back Schwarber and Almora.
The Cubs don’t have to break the bank to improve their outfield because there are still some affordable options on the market.
Potential Outfield Free Agent Targets:
- Eddie Rosario (29) 2020 season: (57 games $7.75 million) .257 BA 13 HR 42 RBI .792 OPS 1.1 WAR
- Kevin Pillar (31) 2020 season: (54 games $4.25 million) .288 BA 6 HR 26 RBI .798 OPS 1.0 WAR
- Jackie Bradley Jr. (30) 2020 season: (55 games $11 million) .283 BA 7 HR 22 RBI .814 OPS 2.1 WAR
- Robbie Grossman (31) 2020 season: (51 games $3.725 million) .241 BA 8 HR 23 RBI .826 OPS 1.2 WAR
- Jurickson Profar (27) 2020 season: (56 games $5.7 million) .278 BA 7 HR 25 RBI .771 OPS 1.4 WAR
It should be noted this list doesn’t consist of every remaining free agent outfielder. Obviously there are some big names missing like George Springer, Michael Brantley and Marcell Ozuna. Don’t get me wrong I would love for the Cubs to sign any one of the three, but there are just no signs of that happening thus far.
Instead Hoyer and Co. will likely look to get the biggest bang for their limited bucks when it comes to finding an outfield replacement. If this is the route the Cubs are taking, I have expressed signing Kevin Pillar to a one-year ~$5 contract would be more than ideal. Adding a player with the versatility of Jurickson Profar might be even better in terms of getting their money’s worth.
The complete list of current free agents can be found here.
Aside from the three outfielders likely to be paid the most (Springer, Brantley, Ozuna), the list isn’t really impressive. The Cubs could go after a free agent outfielder towards the end of their career, (Shin-Soo Choo, Brett Gardner, Nick Markakis, Ryan Braun) but it might not be worth spending the money.
There’s different paths for the Cubs to choose from in finding their outfield replacements. When it comes to affordable free agents coming off solid 2020 seasons, it’s slim pickings. If Hoyer and the rest of the organization doesn’t believe anyone on the market isn’t worth spending the money on, maybe Joe Maddon’s experiments of Bryant in the outfield was a bit of foreshadowing.