Last year on February 10th Bobby Abreu signed a one year 5 million dollar deal with the Angels, During the offseason last year he was hoping for a 3 year deal in the 50 milion dollar range. What does this have to do with the cubs, well with a limited budget and a few key areas that need to be addressed there are plenty of options still out there that may very well still be around in a month, some are pricing themselves out of contracts. By waiting out the market the cubs might be able to pick up a few quality players at a fraction of their original asking price. The cubs need a centerfielder, want a right-handed setup man, need some improvements to the bench and a leadoff man and/or second baseman.
Jose Valverde is currently seeking a deal in the 8 to 10 million dollar a year range way out of the cubs price range, and the cubs already have a closer in marmol he is also pricing himself out of a lot of teams price range. If he is still available at a drastically reduced price in a month or so he would definitely help to solidify the cubs bullpen and if Marmol were to struggle could definitely take over the closers role. Kiko Calero is also still available and is coming off a stellar season.
Jermaine Dye is still available while his defense in rightfield has gone way down hill, if he is still available at a low cost he could be a great bench bat and platoon with Fukodome in rightfield, rest Soriano from time to time and has played firstbase in the past and could possibly rest Derek Lee or takeover fulltime duties if there are any injuries. Last year against lefties he hit .292/.387/.508 and his career numbers against lefties are .287/.366/.505 . Jonny Gomes is another option for this role and is much younger but doesn't hit righties as well and hasn't played any firstbase. Both would be huge uprgades to the bench.
There are two very intriguing options for second base and the leadoff job should the cubs have enough payroll left after making other upgrades in Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez, both put up very solid numbers and have very a respectable career obp. The clock is ticking away towards spring training and if the price is right would be great bargains.
Jon Garland is a quality 4th or 5th guy in the rotation and is pretty consistent while pitching about 200 innings a year. Joel Piniero is also still on the market and is coming of a really good season. Ben Sheets if healthy could be an ace if he returns to his old form, He is currently seeking a one year 12 million dollar deal, good luck with that no one is going to sign him coming off an injury at that price. Jose Contreras while he had a dissapointing season last year after rushing back from injury, I think he will bounce back this year and might come at the right price. Call me sentimental but Mark Prior on a minor league deal may not be a bad idea he is still very young at 28 and might be able to bounce back as a bullpen guy and this would help him to stay healthy.
Ryan Church now I know what you thinking what is so special about him? He's average Joe outfielder or at worst a first rate 4th outfielder, if he is still around a minor league contract for depth would be a steal.
Austin Kearns has plummeted the past two years after having a couple of successful seasons, yet is still only 29 years old and a low risk minor league contract would not be a bad idea.
Chances are many of these guys won't still be available, but I have a strong feeling a few of them will be and could be low cost solid contributors. What are your thoughts, I'd like to hear them in the comments section.