Diving Into the Bargain Bin

In Commentary And Analysis by Rice Cube14 Comments

The Cubs have probably finished building their roster via free agency for the most part, and we covered the biggest signing plus the basic plan for 2023 in our last podcast. Based on the official signings and Cots Contracts, the Cubs still have about $20MM to spend (if they choose to) before they hit the first luxury tax threshold, but I doubt they will splurge, barring a surprise Carlos Correa pillow contract because his ankle bone isn’t connected to his leg bone or whatever. I thought I’d check out the free agent list and see if there was anyone else worth grabbing before the Cubs pivot to trades to round out the roster before spring training.

What the Cubs Don’t Absolutely Need

Based on the plan in place at this time, the Cubs don’t need the following (but an upgrade is obviously always nice if they can swing it!):

  • Catcher: The Cubs’ tandem of Tucker Barnhart and Yan Gomes is pretty much set for all glove, minimal bat
  • Middle Infield: Expecting Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson to gobble up anything hit their way
  • Outfield: From left to right, Ian Happ, Cody Bellinger, and Seiya Suzuki most likely eat up the majority of the available playing time
  • Pitching: Starting rotation is pretty much set with Marcus Stroman as the headliner and no obvious ace-level pitchers still available, similarly with the bullpen now that the top relievers are gone

I’m also going to assume the Cubs can fill a bench from in-house options so they probably won’t spend too much for that.

Who the Cubs Should Probably Try to Get

By process of elimination, this means the Cubs will focus mostly on first base, third base, and designated hitter, if they feel they can’t rely on Patrick Wisdom and friends or don’t want to put all their eggs into the Matt Mervis basket. The MLBTR list has names, but whether those names are going to engender a feeling of awe is debatable. Here’s my priority list:

First Base

When looking through free agent lists, it’s kind of disappointing when you see all the names that used to be good, but you just can’t see them actually being good in 2023 unless miracles happen. That said, I think I’ll prioritize two names:

Trey Mancini – we’ve discussed him before and I think after Michael Conforto came off the board, this was probably most Cubs fans’ top pick at this point due to his demeanor and his potential residual upside.

Miguel Sano – I forgot that he existed for a bit, but he was good for the Twins for a while (when he was healthy, which is harder since he’s a pretty big dude) and then he just kind of stopped being good. I’m interested in any power potential he has, but I guess at that point you might as well go with Patrick Wisdom.

Third Base

I also think this is something the Cubs stopgap with an internal option, assuming Wisdom remembers how to play good defense, but after Brandon Drury went off the board, there just don’t seem to be any other tolerable options. The main name that pops out at me is Evan Longoria, who could be good for a short-term “prove you’re still useful” type contract, but again this is probably another spot the Cubs seem happy to punt until they get a prospect breakout or hope that Wisdom can make things happen.

Designated Hitter

I feel like this is not so much a locked in spot a la a David Ortiz (you wish), but just a resting spot to rotate guys off of defense every now and then. But if the Cubs want to throw some money and hope to catch lightning, there are a couple names that I was at least somewhat intrigued in:

Nelson Cruz – now in his 40s, Cruz is of course known for his prodigious power that has waned as time caught up to him. He’s kept in good shape for an older gentleman so I wonder if a reasonable deal can be set up to bring him in. It helps that he seems like a really fun dude.

Andrew McCutchen – speaking of a fun dude, and someone who is younger and also still fleet of foot albeit not so good in the field anymore, I think Cutch would be a positive influence on the younger players and the team as a whole. I really wanted the Cubs to try to sign Cutch years ago after he left the Pirates, but better late than never I guess!

They’ll Probably Stay Put

I think we should actually keep our ears open for trade rumors at this point if the Cubs don’t end up signing Trey Mancini, but don’t hold me to that. This current version of the 2023 team is probably going to be more watchable than the one this past season, but hopefully there is a plan to be slightly more than that, although that plan did convince Swanson to sign, so it could go either way?

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  1. berselius

    RIP Pele. Despite all the Messi GOAT talk over the past month or two, I don’t think anyone can hold a candle to Pele.

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