Cubs missed the boat when it comes to Sean Doolittle

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

We’re just one week from pitchers and catchers reporting to Florida and Arizona as the offseason draws to a close. It began as unpredictable on the North Side, and the Cubs spent all winter trying to balance between rebuilding and trying to compete in a weak division.

The dominant ideology this offseason, though, centered around trading those with value and start building toward the future. The Yu Darvish trade and the non-tendering of Kyle Schwarber are prime examples of this.

Not only that, the fact that the likes of Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant could also be traded shows the Chicago Cubs aren’t done yet. However, despite their blatant openness to making trades, the Cubs have still found the means to acquire building blocks in the short-term. Two of these building blocks are Joc Pederson and Trevor Williams. If you ask me, the Cubs have a few more places where they could use some building blocks. These spots include second base and  the pitching staff.

Regarding  the pitching staff, the Cubs have made a few additions to both the starting rotation and the bullpen. Yet, both could still use more work. While many of the pitchers on the free agent market (both starters and relief) have already been signed, there was a variety of them available and there are still some left. Looking back, one might wonder why the Cubs did not sign a low-cost veteran reliever like Sean Doolittle.

Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle could have benefitted the Chicago Cubs

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While Sean Doolittle was available on the free agent market, the Cubs’ division rivals the Cincinnati Reds swooped in and signed him to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. The 34-year-old reliever was with the Washington Nationals since July 2017 after he was traded from the Oakland Athletics. During his time with the Nationals, he helped the team win their first World Series title in 2019.

The two-time All-Star was considered one of the league’s best big-name relievers until 2019. In 2019, he posted a 4.05 ERA which was the highest of his career, over 63 appearances. The abbreviated 2020 season brought more difficulties for Doolittle as he battled various injuries and pitched a mere 7 2/3 innings. Despite the struggles he faced over the last two seasons, a healthy Sean Doolittle could bolster a thin bullpen and provide a veteran presence in the clubhouse.

With all things considered, Doolittle, or a veteran reliever in the same mold would have benefitted the North Siders. Chicago surely could use more bullpen help, and Doolittle is equipped with badly-needed experience. The lefty could potentially bounce back in 2021, and while this could have helped the Cubs, it does little to make Cincinnati a contender.

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Keeping this in mind, Jed Hoyer should go out and sign a low-cost veteran reliever to bolster the bullpen. Hopefully, the team takes the Sean Doolittle signing as a lesson and can learn from it moving forward.