As many of you already know, the Cubs have chosen not to retain Pat Listach, their 3B coach. Listach was a rising managerial star in the Cubs system and is highly thought of around the league, so I assume he'll get a position somewhere fairly quickly. Good luck to him.
In somewhat related news, Bobby Valentine of the Red Sox will not return in 2013. That leaves open the possibility that the Cubs could try to lure Dave Magadan to be their hitting coach. James Rowson still has the interim tag and that means he probably won't be retained as the MLB hitting coach, but he has done a great job as the minor league hitting coordinator, both with the Cubs early this season and with the Yankees prior to that. It's very possible he returns to that role.
There will be some changes on the field, of course.
As he was addressing the media on the 2012 season, Theo Epstein said,
"I will be incredibly disappointed if our baseball operation isn't better by ."
The part that stands out is 2014. In other words, don't expect the Cubs to take any short cuts this offseason. As I've said many times, rebuilding is a process. You can't do it all in one year. By the same token, it doesn't mean he doesn't plan to improve the team in 2013. In fact, it's implied in the previous statement: You can't rebuild everything in one year. So I doubt Epstein will neglect the club in 2013 and then leave all the work for the next offseason. I expect him to continue to gradually add pieces that are either long term or short-term pieces that can be converted into long term ones.
With that in mind, don't expect the Cubs to go big into free agency for quick-fixes. Theo said,
"I've always believed and still believe free agent $$ provides the lowest return of any investment in baseball opps."
That's not to say they won't sign a couple of players, but I would expect them to be more along the lines of last year's signings of David DeJesus and Paul Maholm. Players like Zack Greinke and B.J. Upton are almost certainly out of the picture, and older big free agents on multi-year deals is completely out of the question right now. In particular, look for the Cubs to scour the market for starting pitching value,
"We'll have to pursue free agency to some degree for starting pitching."
"To some degree" implies once again that this isn't going to be an all out spending spree. I would look for some of the bargains I have mentioned in the past, guys like Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, and maybe take flyers on talents like Brian Matusz. In other words, look for Paul Maholm types in free agency and Travis Wood/Chris Volstad types in trades. Then you hope you either find a long term piece or you get a player that you can flip later.
Theo also said that he is going into the offseason with the assumption that Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson will begin the year in Iowa. Tom and I have talked about 3B in a previous article and we will cover CF options today. But just like everything else, don't expect the Cubs to go all in when it comes to free agents. They'll look for value once again and focus on those players who they can project to improve in 2013 rather than pay for past performance.
So, those looking for the Cubs to contend or even finish .500 next season should temper their expectations.
As the man himself asked, "Is patience required?"
"Absolutely", said Theo, answering his own question.