The announcement that the Cubs signed Cuban defector Jorge Soler to a nine year $30 million contract is a big boost to the future for a team that is headed to their worst season in franchise history. For a franchise with a long history of futility, the Cubs have made waves before in free agency, with a big trade or simply signing their own players to a long term contact. Time will tell if Soler was a good move or not, but for the present his signing ranks as one of the biggest ever. Here are the Cubs ten biggest acquisitions at the time they were made.
Rick Sutcliffe Sutcliffe came to the Cubs in what initially was a controversial trade. In order to get the top of the rotation starter the 1984 Cubs needed, they had to part with top prospects Mel Hall and Joe Carter. The trade occurred just prior to the then June 15th trading deadline.
Sutcliffe went 16-1 for the Cubs the remainder of the season to lead them to their first division title and first postseason appearance in 39 years. He had some up and down season for the Cubs in eight years in Chicago. He went 18-10 and finished runner-up in the Cy Young voting in 1987 and had a 16-11 record in 1989 as the Cubs captured another division title.
After two injury plagued seasons, he signed with Baltimore following the 1991 season.
Andre Dawson When Andre Dawson joined the Cubs prior to the 1987 season he was one of the premier outfielders in baseball. He was twice the runner-up in the National League Most Valuable Player voting, a three-time all-star and six time gold glove winner.
His first season at Wrigley Field could not have been better. He hit 49 home runs and drove in 137 for a last place team. He would have two more 100 rbi seasons for the Cubs and make three all-star appearances. He played in the 1989 NLCS when the Cubs lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games.
George Bell When Bell joined the Cubs for the 1991 season, he was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball. In his one season on the North Side, he hit .285 with 25 home runs and 85 rbi’s. He was traded following the season to the White Sox for Sammy Sosa and Ken Patterson.
Sammy Sosa Sammy Sosa joined the Cubs prior to the 1992 season from the White Sox. The Cubs shipped slugging outfielder George Bell across town for the five tooled Sosa.
Sosa showed raw power in two seasons on the southside, but his batting average had slipped to .203 in 1992. He hit .260 with eight home runs and 25 rbi’s in his first season with the Cubs. He second season his true potential began to show. He hit .261 with 33 home runs, 93 rbis and 36 stolen bases. He was on his way to becoming one of the baseball’s biggest stars.
Sosa won the national league MVP in 1998 when he finished second in home runs to Mark McGuire and led the Cubs to the wildcard. He would finish runner-up in the MVP three years later. He led the league in homeruns and rbi’s twice each in four different seasons as a Cub. Although his attitude and whether or not he used performance enhancing drugs is frequently questioned, his tenure as a Cub made him their most popular player since Ernie Banks at least during his time there.
Todd Hundley Hundley signed a four year $23.5 Million contract in December of 2000. He came to the Cubs after hitting 24 home runs in back to back seasons with the Dodgers. Hundley was unable to translate the popularity of his father Randy as a member of the 1969 Cubs into success for himself. He hit just .199 with 28 homeruns and 66 rbi’s in two seasons. He was traded back to the Dodgers following the 2002 for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek. Karros and Grudzielanek were key players for the 2003 Cubs that lost in the NLCS.
Aramis Ramirez At the time the Cubs acquired Ramirez from Pittsburgh at the 2003 trade deadline, their regular third baseman was Mark Bellhorn. Ramirez gave them a significant upgrade. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 39 runs in 63 games. He finished the 2003 postseason with four home runs and ten rbi’s.
He moved onto Milwaukee following the 2011 season. Ramirez finished his Cubs career sixth in home runs. He had three seasons of 30 plus home runs and four of over 100 rbi’s on the North Side.
Derek Lee A year after being a part of Florida Marlins team that tore the heart out of Cubs fans everywhere, Derrek Lee joined the Cubs for Hee Seop Choi and minor leaguer Mike Nannini. Lee had seven mostly good years with the Cubs. He made two all-star appearances and finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting in 2005.
Nomar Garciaparra When the Cubs acquired Garciaparra from the Red Sox in 2004 as part of a four team trade, he was still one of the elite players in baseball. The biggest name the Cubs had to give up was shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
In about a season and a third in Chicago, Garciaparra played in only 105 games hitting 13 home runs and driving in 50. He missed three months of the 2005 season with a groin pull. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, Garciaparra signed to play with the Dodgers.
Alfonso Soriano At the time the Cubs signed Soriano to an eight year $136 million contract prior to the 2007 season, he was the most sought after free agent of that off-season. It was also the biggest contract in Cubs history. Although Soriano has been a productive player for the Cubs he has not been able to live up to his lucrative contract. He did make All-Star appearances in his first two seasons with the Cubs and lead them to the post-season appearances in those two years as well. He has received a lot of criticism from the fans and media and been the frequent target of trade rumors.
Kosuke Fukudome Fukudome came to the Cubs with a lot of fanfare when he signed with the team prior to the 2008 season. At the time he said he came to the Cubs because he wanted to be their first Japanese player. There were rumors at the time that the White Sox offered more than the four years and $48 million he sign for with the Cubs. Shingo Taketsu and Tadahito Iguchi had already played for the White Sox.
He got off to a fast start including a memorable opening day. Fukudome went three-for-three including a three run game tying home-run in the bottom of the ninth off of Brewers closer Eric Gagne. He hit .327 in April, but his average plummeted with each successive month. He bottomed out by hitting below .200 in the final two months of the season, including .100 in the playoffs.