Ahh, this is music to all of our ears.
Whether you are a prospect junkie or a free agent junkie or anywhere in between, this is what you want to hear.
David Kaplan interviewed Jed Hoyer on the The Game 87.7 today and Hoyer indicated that spending is likely and that,
"We need to add veterans to the kids that are coming."
A few of have talked about this for a while now. The next question: On whom should they spend the money?
Well, there are a few ways to go about this:
They can sign players who can help now and stick around for a few years, similar to the Edwin Jackson deal, which hasn't quite worked out to this date.
No matter what happens with Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the Cubs will have 3 pitchers returning in Travis Wood, Jake Arrieta, and probably Edwin Jackson. They also have top 15 prospect Kyle Hendricks fairing reasonably well at AAA (3.01 FIP). Barring any conversion candidates from the bullpen, the Cubs will be looking for up to two starting pitchers. The top pitchers on the market are expected to be Max Scherzer and Jon Lester with Justin Masterson in the next tier down.
These pitchers will be costly but if the Cubs do trade Samardzija, we may see the Cubs make a run at one of them. The front office has obvious ties to Jon Lester and Justin Masterson, both of whom the drafted, but Masterson is a risk because of a decrease in velo and Lester will be hard to pry loose from a team that expects to be perennial contenders. Complicating the issue is that all three of these pitchers could get QOs.
There is mid-tier pitching to be had: Brandon McCarthy, Ervin Santana, Francisco Lirano, and James Shields are a few names that could interest the Cubs
The Cubs could also take flyers on talented but injured and/or inconsistent arms such as Chad Billingsley, Brandon Morrow, or Brett Anderson.
The Cubs don't necessarily need to buy for the long term, they could pursue an older pitcher such as Josh Beckett or Jake Peavy (or Shields fits here as well) to fill in for a couple of years. There is still an element of the unlnown as the Cubs can either develop a pitcher, perhaps an arm that they acquire for Samardzija or Hammel, or deal for a young veteran with their surplus of position player prospects, so they may want to leave at least one of those spots with some long term flexibility.
Stopgaps are even more likely in the OF, where the Cubs have gotten well below average production but have prospects well on their way. They may not want to tie themselves up long term. In that case, Chris Denorfia is a good fit in terms of approach and Seth Smith can give them a much needed lefty bat with some power and patience.
If the Cubs were to pursue a longer term player, then Colby Rasmus might make some sense if they can get him at a good rate. Rasmus is talented but has been inconsistent. Nick Markakis could become available if the Orioles don't pick up his $17.5M extension while Chase Headley can move to the OF if necessary. Denard Span could be a nice fit as well.
The Cubs could also be sneaky and if they sense that there is a buyer's market this trade deadline, they could pull the trigger on a young veteran they can extend long term.
There are lots of options and I'm sure the Cubs will do their due diligence and explore all of them.
We aren't necessarily looking at having to pick up stars for the lineup, those will eventually be supplied by their farm system, so I tend to gravitate toward the short term stop gap solutions here. But the Cubs would probably like to pick up players who can play a supporting role, much like David DeJesus did. If they can get any kind of production from their OF, then that will be a boost as the Cubs have Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo in the infield with Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Arismendy Alcantara all candidates to join the team sometime in 2015. Bryant and Alcantara are also capable of playing the OF if necessary.
With the possible exception of a starting pitcher (whether it be a free agent or their current ace, Jeff Samardzija), I don't expect the Cubs to go crazy and spend on a huge multi-year deal. Rather, I expect them to spread the money out, get some quality veteran support for the kids and then leave themselves flexible enough to make an even bigger splash after the kids get their feet wet and the team looks ready to contend. The goal for 2015 is to put the team in the position to make that kind of leap.
Filed under: Uncategorized