The winter meetings are here, and with them comes the inevitable flurry of free agency and trade activity. The Cubs still have gaps to fill, and as things stand currently, there are a couple of possibilities looming.
First, there's the rumored signing of former Rays pitcher Alex Cobb. This has lingered in the air for several weeks now, and if a deal is going to go down, this is the week it seems like it has to happen. This deal seems imminent, and according to Jon Heyman, the Cubs are actively pursuing him to fill their last rotation spot. There is, however, a lot of rumored interest in Cobb coming from teams in the American League East, most notably the Yankees.
Cobb would be a fine addition to the rotation, but leaning on the newly-signed Tyler Chatwood and Cobb to hold down the back end of the starting staff is certainly a gamble. Even if Cobb is added, there's still the possibility that the Cubs trade from their major league roster to grab another starter.
I wrote about the wisdom of this recently, and my opinion is still that the Cubs would be better to go big and sign Yu Darvish. But if they don't go that route and choose instead to play the cards from their hand, there is certainly plenty of interest in Kyle Schwarber. Again, I am not in favor of dealing him, but I can see and understand the appeal of other teams, especially those in the American League.
The latest team to show interest was the Red Sox, as was reported in numerous places over the weekend. He could be a semi-effective counter to the Yankees trading for Giancarlo Stanton, though the two hitters are not in the same stratosphere at this point. Schwarber might have Ruthian potential, but that's all it is so far.
If not the Red Sox, the Cubs have a longstanding link with the Rays, at least in the rumor mill. If Tampa Bay is looking to trade Chris Archer, Schwarber would be a reasonable piece in that deal. The Cubs have been rumored to have interest in trading for Archer and reliever Alex Colome, but this might be purely speculation so far. One thing the front office has typically done well is keeping a tight lid on their activity, but if they do make a deal of this magnitude, Archer would solidify the rotation in a way that would make many of us a lot more comfortable. And having Jim Hickey on the coaching staff likely provides something of an advantage in this pursuit.
There are other names that have popped up, including Brandon Kintzler and Addison Reed, both of whom would help bolster the bullpen staff, especially Reed.
Right now, it looks most likely that Cobb will get signed, as Theo Epstein has made it clear that the Cubs are not finished after the Chatwood deal, but I'll admit, if that's the extent of their offseason acquisitions, I'm going into the 2018 season with some concern about how well-equipped the Cubs will be to win the division again. If the Cubs do go quiet after adding Cobb, I have doubts that they'll stay that way at the July deadline; this front office has always been active and even aggressive when necessary in keeping the Cubs as competitive as possible.