Not much remains in the free agent class of 2012. Only a few big names are left, and none larger than Prince Fielder.
The Cubs are believed to have significant payroll flexibility for next season. By some estimates, Chicago could have as much as $30 million remaining, assuming they match last year's spending totals. That's certainly enough to make a major move.
While the Cubs aren't in any hurry to write big checks, Theo Epstein prizes unpredictability. And he wasn't hired to lose—he plans to win games.
When asked about the team's chances in 2012, Epstein said the Cubs "might surprise some people."
The first surprise, of course, will be discovering someone in the starting lineup who can produce runs. Because unless Epstein can hit, the Cubs best bet for the cleanup spot is Alfonso Soriano. And they'd like to trade him.
A second surprise would be finding five good starting pitchers out of the eight likely to get a shot in spring training. And that means signing another free agent starter isn't out of the question.
But the biggest surprise would be for Epstein to waste Chicago's monetary advantage with a foolish deal. That's not going to happen.
The Cubs aren't refusing to spend, but they plan to invest wisely. They want the best chance of getting on-field production that meets or exceeds the value of players' contracts.
And there could be a few bargains in the leftover bin. So, here's a look at 10 remaining free agents and whether they're smart moves for Chicago.