We have a rough idea of what the Cubs are looking for, what they are willing to spend, and what's on the market. It's safe to say that this isn't a year for a dramatic free agent spending spree that will turn the team around. Those looking for a quick fix solution are likely to be disappointed.
That's not to say that the Cubs can't improve drastically, but the feeling here is that they will improve in the short term with pitching and defense, not with star power. And certainly not with non-stars making big free agent money.
Our predictions are for 2 starting pitchers, an outfielder, third baseman, and one wildcard. Here are our picks...
SP) Trevor Bauer
Seeing as how I just wrote about him in a comments section, he's kind of on the brain. He's this year's Rizzo. A "Statement" acquisition about what Epstoyer is trying to do.
SP) Bronson Arroyo.
Excuse me while I punch myself in the rocks because this guy just drives me bats. But he's cost efficient, has a Red Sox tie with Epstoyer, fills the whole "Maholm" criteria. And him and Theo can "jam".Ugh.....
OF) Nate McLouth
Lefthanded, athletic, and rebounded after injuries and awfulness in Atlanta. Can shift OF spots. And is short term. All boxes ticked.
3B) Eric Chavez
I'm just so Anti-Ian Stewart, that I'm kind of reaching. But I think Chavez also fills a "Veteran bat off the bench" presence that this team so sorely needs. So you can rest him at 3rd with Valbuena (Hopefully Vitters in August...doubt it though) and will be someone that Rizzo and the other kids can talk to.
Wild card) Ryan Madson
Dude wants to close, and after Marmol is traded ( How can he not be traded now?) The Cubs will need a closer. Especially since they intend to make their best candidate a starter.
SP) Shawn Marcum
Kind of the media favorite, I'll go along on this one. Marcum throws strikes and wouldn't have far to go to relocate. He's the kind of guy who could build value if he stays healthy and has another good year.
SP) Hyun-Jin Ryu
It's not very often you can sign a 25 year old LHP at the top of his game. The fact that he dominated the KBO gives hope he can succeed here in the MLB, but that's far from a guarantee. The stuff and command is of a #3 or #4 starter. Ryu could be a long term solution. Of course, this could be wrong as early as today when and if we find out another team has won the posting bid. If not Ryu, then I'm turning to Joe Blanton ( xFIP of 3.39)
OF) Coco Crisp
Fits what Cubs are looking for as a good defensive CFer with versatility and a LH bat. He should be relatively inexpensive as far as trade return. He's also on a one year deal.
3B) Ian Stewart
I don't think the Cubs are going to sign anyone major to play 3B. At best I see a bargain bin RH bat who can also play SS to give both Stewart an occasional breather. Valbuena is the fallback plan again at 3B if Cubs decide they don't want Stewart based on reported off the field concerns that have surfaced.
Wildcard) Scott Feldman
I'm guessing a 3rd pitcher with some flexibility might help. Feldman can start, pitch short relief, or anywhere in between. Throws strikes and was one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball. I think there's some hidden value here. He may come in handy at the deadline, whether it's dealing him, putting him in the rotation to replace departed pitchers, or...get this...close if and when Cubs trade Carlos Marmol. Theo hinted he'd like to create value by signing a lesser known pitcher they like and then trying him in the closer role to increase value. Though it was only 13.2 innings and small sample caveats apply, Feldman was pretty dominant when they put him in a relief role (1.98 ERA)
SP Shawn Marcum
I think Marcum is the type of pitcher that is right in the Cubs wheelhouse, he fits their profile and is in need of a rebound. I think they can secure him on a one or two year deal. He could be this year’s Paul Maholm.
SP Brandon McCarthy
Ok I admit this one may be more what I’m hoping for rather than reality. I think this is the kind of move they need to be making. McCarthy could actually fit into the long term plan. If he really excels you could again flip him for prospects but I think he would be a potential keeper. It isn’t like the Cubs won’t be competitive in the next two seasons or so.
3B Ian Stewart
I had a brief flirtation with the Kevin Youkilis idea. However Stewart still fits as long as he hasn’t turned off the organization or teammates. Together with Luis Valbuena, they could hold down the fort until Javier Baez is ready.
OF Coco Crisp
I think this makes sense on many levels and he should be obtained without giving up too much. Front office has had interest in the past.
Wild card Nyjer Morgan
I really feel the Cubs will get an outfielder rather by trade. I also would still like to make a play for Angel Pagan but I could see him being priced out of the Cubs range for this particular time. Morgan at the least would provide a glove in CF and another LH bat.
Which 5 players which would you pick at these spots?
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