The Chicago Cubs have had a busy winter. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been hard at work trying to improve on the Cubs’ 101-loss season from 2012. They have made some moves that most analysts would consider low-risk, but also low-reward signings.
Among those low-risk signings, the Cubs did manage to make a splash when they landed Kyuji Fujikawa. According to the Chicago Tribune, the team’s official stance was that despite the Fujikawa signing, Carlos Marmol would remain the closer. However, most people have read the writing on the wall and have written Marmol off as trade bait at this point, especially after they tried to trade him earlier this offseason.
Some of the more notable moves the Cubs made to address their holes this offseason included non-tendering Ian Stewart—only to re-sign him a few days later—and signing Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Nate Schierholtz.
While the Cubs have addressed some of the needs that were identified by plugging some of their holes at the third base, pitcher and outfield positions, Epstein and Hoyer may not be done just yet, according to a tweet by MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat.
Many of the players who the Cubs were rumored to have interest in have already signed with other teams. But here is a list of some of the more interesting players who may still be on the Cubs' radar, and the pros and cons that would come with signing each player.
Francisco Liriano was a name that was on the Cubs’ radar from early in the offseason, according to CSNChicago.com. He was one of the first pitchers who the Cubs turned to in order to improve the rotation. Chicago made an offer to Liriano which remained on the table as of Dec. 8 according to ESPN.com.
Liriano could be a very dominant pitcher on a National League team. He has showed the ability throughout his career to display overpowering dominance. His major flaw is that he walks too many batters.
Since 2010, he has averaged over five walks per nine innings. If he can get his command back and pitch closer to his career numbers, he could be a nice addition for the Cubs.
As an added bonus, he could also pitch out of the bullpen if necessary.
ESPN Chicago reported a little over a week ago that the Cubs did meet and have a discussion with Michael Bourn’s agent. Bourn is currently represented by Scott Boras, so it is yet to be seen if he is in the Cubs’ price range for an option in the outfield.
Bourn would bring an immediate impact to the Cubs lineup. He is an excellent defender and is one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. He's led the National League in stolen bases for the past three seasons.
However, Bourn is already in his 30s. At 31 years old, there will be questions about how much longer he will be able to maintain his speed on the basepaths.
It’s not likely that the Cubs sign Bourn, simply because of his age and his price tag. They will be looking to add players from the free-agency pool who can be signed to one-year deals and plug the holes on the field until some of the highly touted prospects are ready.
Bourn would be a nice addition, but he doesn’t fit in the Cubbies' puzzle.
Now here’s an interesting name for the Cubs. According to David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com, the Cubs have reached out to the Rangers about the availability of Mike Olt. If not for Matt Garza’s injury, the Cubs could have acquired Olt in a trade involving Garza last season, and may have had him as their starting third baseman already.
This would be inserting pure awesomeness into the Cubs lineup for the foreseeable future.
Olt hits for a ton of power and has solid defensive skills. He is still young, so he tends to be susceptible to off-speed pitches, but the Cubs could plug this guy in at third base right now and get by.
This would be a phenomenal move if the Cubs could pull it off. Unfortunately, Kaplan also indicated in his article that the Cubs may not have what it takes to bring in the young third base prospect anymore.
Jair Jurrjens is a former All-Star who seemed to be on the road to becoming another legendary pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. He was never a big strikeout pitcher, but his career ERA is a respectable 3.62. That includes his awful 2012 campaign where he pitched to a 6.89 ERA.
At only 26 years old, he can still get his career back on track. He brings a low-90s fastball in his arsenal, but like I noted earlier, he doesn’t strike out many batters and it should also be noted that gives up too many bases on balls.
The Braves evidently had seen enough of Jurrjens after the 2012 season, and cut him loose after he turned in three very good major league seasons. Whenever the Braves turn their back on a pitcher, it scares everyone off. Even still, the Cubs are showing interest according to CSNChicago.com—and not many other teams are.
This could turn into a very nice low-risk, high-reward signing for Epstein and Hoyer.
According to ESPN.com, Ryan Dempster is another name floating out there around Chicago. Could the Cubbies be primed for a reunion with the right-handed hurler?
According to a tweet from MLB.com's Peter Gammons, Dempster’s agent Craig Landis believes that now that Zack Greinke is signed, his client will get a three-year deal somewhere.
In Gammons' tweet, he also states that Dempster would prefer to stay in the National League. However, at 35 years old, and the length of contract Dempster is seeking, it may be best for the Cubs to looks to a younger right-handed pitcher like Jair Jurrjens instead.
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