With Major League Baseball currently in a lockout, teams are no longer able to sign players to major league contracts until a new CBA is reached. However, that does not stop front offices from doing their due diligence and coming up with a plan on who to go after in free agency once CBA talks finalize and free agency becomes available again.
The Chicago Cubs quickly learned the importance of urgency in this offseason’s free agency foray prior to the lockout hitting – and pulled off a major win in signing Marcus Stroman and Yan Gomes last week. Chicago’s starting rotation, on paper at least, is much improved from a season ago. You already have three guys in Kyle Hendricks, Stroman and Wade Miley who are capable of putting up above-average numbers in any given season.
Where the Cubs still lack however, is the bullpen. As many remember, the Cubs sent Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel packing at the trade deadline, ultimately ripping up the greatest strength the team had in the back end of their bullpen. Needless to say, things quickly unraveled after the deadline and a bullpen that saw itself grace many leaderboards early in the year, quickly went down in flames as pitching proved to be the team’s undoing.
Luckily, with a strong free agent class and ownership’s willingness to spend this winter, the Cubs can patch things up in short order. Though several All-Stars have already inked new deals, there is still a lot of quality out there. The Cubs will need to be ready to strike as soon as free agency reopens. Let’s take a glance of some of the best arms that could be key in reigniting the bullpen flame that was put out at the trade deadline last season.