The Chicago Cubs won’t start making noticeable moves until they name a new manager. The Cubs said they wanted a new manager by November 10th when the GM Meetings take place. The Cubs have already eliminated candidates of whom did interview with them and have started 2nd interviews. The Cubs are believed to be close to finding a new manager, with San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria as the clear favorite. After the Cubs name a manager, they will then move their focus to the main off-season. Here’s what moves I would love the Cubs to make and not way out of their price range as well.
Sign Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to Whatever Price: Tanaka is easily the best pitcher on the free agent market. He’s expected to come over from Japan anytime now. He just finished playing in the playoffs over in Japan. The price will be high on Tanaka and the posting fee, by its self, could reach anywhere from 75-100 million. Then you have to sign him to a contract. The price may be high and a lot of money, but the Cubs have to so whatever to sign Tanaka. He’s exactly what the Cubs are looking for. A younger player who can be with the Cubs for many years to come. Tanaka recently just turned 25-years old. Plus, he’s a pitcher and that’s the Cubs biggest weakness by a lot. Tanaka was on a 30 game win streak until is streak was snapped. The only downfall Tanaka has to other teams is how long will his arm hold up for. In the game where he lost and his streak was snapped, he threw 160 pitches and the following game he threw 16 pitches to close out the game. There is a chance his arm could die at anytime, but this is a gamble the Cubs have to take. There’s the chance of a pitchers arm falling off at anytime, so it’s worth the risk. Tanaka will have major interest and by high payroll teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. But the Cubs have to do whatever to outbid every team and sign Tanaka. The Cubs came in 2nd way too many times in the past for International free agents and this is a must win.
Trade for an Outfielder: The Cubs need more offensive power in their lineup. By acquiring an named outfielder, the Cubs are in fact doing that. A name that a lot of people want the Cubs to acquire is Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton. But that’s not happening. If Stanton does get traded, he’ll go to the Pittsburgh Pirates. A few days ago, the Marlins GM said they will not trade Stanton. So, there’s that as well. Even though that may be blowing smoke. One name I’ve been high on is Colorado Rockies Carlos Gonzalez. He’s still in his prime and will help the Cubs now. He’s a good hitter and a good defensive player as well. He’s expected to be available this off-season. That’s one name of many outfielders of whom could be made available this off-season. I think the Cubs need to acquire one. One that is in his prime or haven’t reached his prime yet.
Sign Pitcher Josh Johnson: The Toronto Blue Jays announced today that they will not make a qualifying offer to Johnson. So, he’ll hit the open market no matter what. Yes, Johnson has had arm injuries in the past. But if he stays healthy, he could be a top pitcher. I have always liked Johnson and wanted the Cubs to acquire him when he was on the Marlins. He will be more of a low risk/high reward kind of signing. He will get money in free agency, but not as much as if he was fully healthy. Maybe a contract around 2-years/20-25 million. The 20-25 million does look like a lot, but an incentive filled contract. He will come in as the 3rd or 4th pitcher in the starting rotation. If Johnson does stay healthy, he could rack up nice stats easily and be a tough pitcher.
Sign Catcher Kurt Suzuki: The Cubs will be in the market for a back-up catcher and Suzuki makes a lot of sense. He’s a good catcher, but a back-up and not a starter anymore. The Cubs are expected to shop Welington Castillo this off-season, but he won’t go anywhere. He’ll be the starting catcher on opening day. The Cubs loved what Castillo did late year and how he improved defensively, so why will they trade him then. I would love for Dioner Navarro to come back, but he’ll get a starting job elsewhere and not be strapped to a back-up job with the Cubs. I just can’t see the Cubs signing Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia as they will cost too much and the Cubs will stick with Castillo. Suzuki isn’t a great offensive player, but he can play good defense. I think Suzuki will be a good back-up to Castillo.
Sign Utility Omar Infante: Infante is a good player and can play off over the diamond. He will be the back-up shortstop, 2nd baseman and the 5th outfielder. He can hit and play good defense as well. He manly plays utility for the teams he plays for. But the Cubs could offer him an incentive. If Darwin Barney continues to struggle at the plate, he will take over 2nd base. Barney does play top defense with not many errors, but the Cubs need offense more than anything. Barney will be the opening day 2nd baseman, but that can change fast. And by signing Infante, the Cubs don’t have to sign a player just to be a 5th outfielder. I like Infante a lot and think he would be a great signing.
Sign Left-Handed Relief Pitcher JP Howell or Eric O’Flaherty: The Cubs bullpen was a complete mess all year and will be in need of another left-handed reliever. From the looks of it, the Cubs bullpen will be young next year. I’m not against it and like that a lot. The players that were given a September call-up last year looked good and earned a spot in the rotation. The bullpen is hard to tell, but the Cubs will sign at least one free agent and a left-handed likely seems like the likely choice. Both of these players won’t ask for a lot of money and are both young, so they either of them could be apart of the future.
Trade Pitcher Jeff Samardzija: Trading Samardzija is a must! Samardzija is not the pitcher the Cubs once thought. The time is right to trade him and there’s already interest in Samardzija. At first, the Cubs wanted to try and sign Samardzija to an extension. But that may not be likely anymore. He wants too much money and a no-trade cause. The Cubs don’t offer no-trade causes to good players, why would Samardzija think he’ll get one? That made me laugh when I heard the news. Samardzija is no ace and a number 3 pitcher at best. Number 3 starters are not worth the money he wants and should be traded.
Trade Pitcher Carlos Villanueva: Last off-season the Cubs brought Villanueva as depth for the starting rotation and a long-man out of the bullpen. The Cubs now have depth for the starting rotation and in the bullpen. If the Cubs trade Villanueva now, they could get more in a trade since the other team will have him for the full-year rather than a couple months if traded at the trade deadline. The Cubs won’t get much for Villanueva, but something is something and to get his money off of the books. Plus, his contract isn’t big and a team can take it on with no problem.
Trade Relief Pitcher James Russell: Russell started off very good last year and fell off the face of the earth. He struggled the 2nd half and no one knew what happened. It’s time for the Cubs to move on from Russell and go a different direction. The Cubs will shop him for sure. The Cubs almost traded him to the Atlanta Braves a week before the trade deadline. So, the Cubs will have the mindset to trade Russell. If the Cubs try, they could trade Russell and could happen at anytime in the off-season.
Sign Pitcher Travis Wood to an Extension: Wood was the biggest surprise this year and open the Cubs eyes. He was easily the Cubs best player this year and is considered to be in the Cubs future plans. Tom Loxas of the LoXas Factor says the Cubs have already started contract extension talks with Wood and expects the Cubs to hammer a deal this off-season at anytime. I see that happening as well and he’ll be the number 2 pitcher behind Tanaka. I like Wood a lot. He’s a competitor and a player the Cubs need to build around.
Non-Tender 3rd Baseman Donnie Murghy: He did do good when he got called up, but struggled after that. He is not in the Cubs future and the Cubs should just move on. The Cubs would be better off playing Mike Olt. Olt did struggle last year, but he could be the future and give him the chance. Have Olt platoon with Luis Valbuena. I would just give Olt the chance and see if he shines. He’s determined and could show good signs. It’s a gamble but a chance I would take.
After all these moves. here’s what the 2014 opening day roster will look like:
C: Welington Castillo
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Darwin Barney
SS: Starlin Castro
3B Luis Valbuena
LF: Carlos Gonzalez or another outfielder
CF: Junior Lake
RF: Nate Schierholtz
Catcher: Kurt Suzuki
4th outfielder: Ryan Sweeney
3B: Mike Olt
2B/SS/5th OF: Omar Infante
1B: Mat Gamel
1) Masahiro Tanaka
2) Travis Wood
3) Josh Johnson
4) Edwin Jackson
5) Jake Arrieta
Closer: Pedro Strop
Right-handed set-up: Blake Parker
Left-handed set-up: JP Howell or Eric O’Flaherty
Right-handed relief pitcher: Jack Rosscup
Right-handed relief pitcher: Daniel Bard
Right-handed long-man: Alberto Cabrera
Left-handed long-man: Chris Rusin
*Darwin Barney will move to utility if he struggles and Infante takes over starting spot.
*Cabrera makes bullpen, If he doesn’t, he’ll have to clear waivers and that’s not going to happen.
*Arodys Vizcaino and Kyuji Fujikawa will return at some point during the 2014 season.
*Gamel has a lot of power and will be good power off the bench. He’ll be the primarily back-up to Rizzo and give Rizzo more days off.
All these moves I mentioned above will not raise the payroll too much and this team can win a good amount of games. I’m not going to say World Series, but I can see a run to make the playoffs. I know not a lot of these moves will happen, but these are moves I would look at to make in the off-season!