Chicago Cubs: 10 Players They'd Love to Land Before Opening Day
The Cubs enter the 2012 season with high expectations, mostly set by the fans, but also by the new Cubs front office. The Cubs finished the 2011 season with 71 wins—fifth place in the NL Central ahead of the lowly Astros.
After bringing in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, the Cubs made a few tweaks in hopes of laying the groundwork for a successful long-term agenda.
Most fans don't expect a World Series run in 2012, but they do expect significant strides to be made with some of the new additions they now have. With Opening Day a little over a week away, most rosters are nearly final, but it does not mean teams aren't still looking to improve.
Let's explore 10 possible players the Cubs could pursue before Opening Day.
10. Jorge Soler
The Cubs are still very interested in Jorge Soler and there are reports that they are the favorites for his services. No deal is imminent as of yet.
He is far from cracking a major league roster, but it would serve the Cubs' long term interests to have him in the fold. The Cubs went hard for Yoenis Cespedes, but lost him to the Athletics who gave him a shorter deal for the same price.
Soler may have more value, as he will sign for cheaper and be under team control for longer. However, he will likely begin in Single-A if he signs before the summer.
9. Hong-Chih Kuo
The Mariners released Hong-Chih Kuo after a painfully bad spring, where he allowed 14 runs in 6.2 innings of work. Kuo has had health issues in the past but was fairly successful, owning a 2.14 ERA over 170 innings between 2008-2010.
Kuo is looking to continue his career in the United States and the only way that appears possible is if he accepts a minor-league deal.
The Cubs could take a chance on him at little to no cost, place him in Triple-A and see what happens. He could be a valuable reliever down the stretch, especially if the Cubs ease him into a workload.
8. Ryan Flaherty
Orioles' Rule 5 pick, Ryan Flaherty, is actually a Cub farmhand, but the talent-deprived Orioles will need all the help they can get, and Flaherty has the baseball IQ and track record to get an opportunity.
So far, he has not disappointed. Flaherty is hitting .293 through 41 at-bats with a .341 OBP, one home run and four extra-base hits.
He appears to be a likely candidate for a spot on the roster, and it is possible the O's will try to work out a trade for him so they can send him down if needed.
The Cubs can only hope the Orioles send him back, but it does not appear likely at this point. He joins Andrew Sisco and Donnie Veal as the notable Rule 5's to be taken from the Cubs.
7. Robert Ross
Texas Rangers' pitcher Robbie Ross is a young left-handed pitcher on the cusp of the Rangers roster. He has great stuff and could provide the Cubs depth going forward, given the early injuries to Kerry Wood and Marcos Mateo.
The Rangers have a lot of pitching, and the Cubs have interesting pieces in the minor league system that could be moved for a MLB-ready pitcher, or at least someone with an opportunity imminent.
Ross is likely a year away, but a strong first half could open the door to a major league opportunity. The Cubs would be smart to play that hand.
6. Boone Logan
Boone Logan is coming off his two best seasons in the majors, both with the Yankees, and he could be the subject of trade talks this season. The Cubs desperately need pitching help if they want to be effective this year, and Logan is the type of veteran that would benefit the younger Cubs.
He is more valuable then Ross, and he would make an immediate impact on the club.
5. Mark DeRosa
Nationals' infielder Mark DeRosa is a familiar face for Cubs fans, considering DeRosa spent his best years in Chicago. His tenure ended in a way that did not suit most Cubs fans, a trade that sent to him to the Indians for three minor leaguers.
One of those minor leaguers—Chris Archer—was later traded to the Rays in the Matt Garza trade.
DeRosa is having a great spring and all appears well with his wrist. DeRosa is going to serve as utility infielder for the Nationals, but it is possible he would be moved for cash and/or prospects.
4. Jerome Williams
Jerome Williams had the best year of his career in 2011, combining to go 11-2 in 21 games (16 starts) between Triple-A and the MLB. He struggled with the Cubs in his first stint, but he could bring value as a long reliever, a compliment to Randy Wells, or as a late-inning reliever.
He is fighting for a spot in the rotation and it does not help that he has dealt with a poor hammy this spring. The Cubs could swoop in if the Angels are looking to deal.
3. Mike Pelfrey
Mets' pitcher Mike Pelfrey is due for a change of scenery. He is very talented, but pitching in New York has run its course on him.
The Mets have made a decision that they will try to move him, but only if the price is right.
Pelfrey would fit in nicely in the Cubs' rotation, taking the fifth spot in the rotation and giving the Cubs more options in the bullpen. It would move Samardzija to the bullpen, albeit temporarily, but there is no telling how the season could play out.
2. Jair Jurrjens
Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens was shopped this offseason, but the Braves' asking price was too high, mostly in part because he is not entirely expendable.
However, if Julio Teheran comes in strong and Jurrjens stays healthy, the Braves will waste no time in moving him. It is not conceivable for the Cubs to land him before Opening Day, but he will certainly be on their radar as time goes on.
The Cubs need to add a bona fide starter to their rotation, especially if they want to compete long-term in the NL.
1. Roy Oswalt
The Cubs are in need of starting pitching, and if they are considering a run in 2012, adding Roy Oswalt would not be a bad idea.
The Cardinals nearly added him this offseason and may look to again if Chris Carpenter can't avoid the disabled list. Oswalt went 9-10 last season with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts, a drop from his usual 30, but not bad from a pitcher who the Cubs would only need 20-25 starts from.
The Cubs are definitely playing the long game, but there is no reason to avoid Oswalt, especially if he serves to benefit the team.
He would be a touchy issue with fans, as Oswalt—like Jim Edmonds—was a Cubs' menace while with the Astros. It would take some time, but he would eventually be welcomed into the Cubs' circle.