Chicago Cubs News

Cubs have a fallback infield option in free agent Justin Turner

Los Angeles Dodgers  v San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Denis Poroy/GettyImages
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We know two things about the Cubs front office as the offseason starts picking up steam. 1) Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins have a ton of money to play with this winter and are among the leading suitors for several top free agents. 2) Chicago will not deviate from what it's branded 'intelligent spending,' which could lead to the team missing out on top targets, even in cases where there's a perfect fit.

After we got some long-awaited closure with Anthony Rizzo re-signing with the Yankees on Tuesday, the paths forward at first base are a little clearer now. Slugging prospect Matt Mervis will get a chance to win the job next spring, but the Cubs aren't totally comfortable throwing him overboard without a life raft. That meaning, you can bet on a veteran joining the team between now and February - Chicago has already been in touch with reps for Josh Bell, Jose Abreu and Trey Mancini.

But what happens if those players' market exceeds what the Cubs are comfortable with - to the point it's clear clubs are overpaying for their services? There's a built-in 'break in case of emergency' option on the free agent market now in longtime Dodgers staple Justin Turner, after Los Angeles declined its team option for 2023 recently.

Cubs need to have backup free agency plans in case things go south

Turner, 38, is likely to return to the Dodgers in free agency, the same as he did in his previous two forays into the open market. If he doesn't though, he's worth a one-year deal, even after an up-and-down 2022 season. In the first half, the veteran carried a .734 OPS - a mark he raised to .889 in the second half.

From July on, Turner never hit below .314 in a single month, getting on base at a .485, .372 and .394 clip in July, August and September, respectively. That gives you hope that his slow start was just that - a slow start - rather than a sharp decline for this year's Roberto Clemente Award recipient.

Next. 3 early suitors for Willson Contreras in free agency. dark

Is this the ideal scenario if you're a Cubs fan? No, probably not. But it goes to show there are ways to fortify the roster even if the best-laid plans fall to pieces. With Turner at third, Patrick Wisdom can team up with Mervis at first with Christopher Morel playing that utility role on a daily basis with the odd man out cycling into the DH spot.

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