The departure of Aramis Ramirez leaves the Cubs without a strong source of power. Chicago will need to remedy this situation before they can even think about contending again.
Besides Prince Fielder, most of this offseason's biggest names have already been signed. However, there are still many good hitters available. How the Cubs deal with this situation could impact their playoff chances for years to come.
Here are five hitters who could replace Aramis Ramirez in the three-hole next year.
Prince Fielder is the best hitter on the market, and he fits perfectly for the Cubs.
The Cubs lack power, they need a first baseman, and they need something to build around. They are a large-market team and can outbid most competition.
Prince Fielder will provide everything the Cubs need—he is a young power hitter and a true impact player, the likes of which will not be available again for quite some time.
Fielder to the Cubs makes perfect sense—he can fulfill their offensive needs more than any other player.
Yoennis Cespedes is an intriguing possibility. By all accounts, Cespedes is a five-tool player with tremendous upside.
Since Cespedes hails from Cuba, it is difficult to gauge precisely how he will perform against Major League pitching. On one hand, this makes Cespedes a risk. On the other, Cespedes could actually come at a relative bargain, since he cannot command the same price as a proven Major League impact player.
Theo Epstein and company have hinted that they are not going after the biggest players on the market. Cespedes provides an exciting alternative to Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, likely at a fraction of the price.
At 26 years old, Cespedes could be an excellent player to build around. All business requires a few risks, and this might be the one to take.
Carlos Pena might not be a very exciting signing, but he would be a productive one.
Pena's batting average is unsightly, but he is still a good offensive player. With an on-base percentage of .357 and an oWAR of 2.7, Pena is much better than his batting average might suggest.
Pena averages 34 home runs a season, which gives him serious RBI potential. He is also a lefty, which only adds to his value.
Carlos Beltran may not be an impact player, but he is a good hitter. He might not have all the range and speed he once had, but he can provide some pop with the batting average and on-base percentage to back it up.
His numbers—a .385 on-base percentage, 22 home runs and .300 batting average—indicate that Beltran is still one of the best and most complete hitters in the game.
At 34 years old, Beltran may not be the exact type of player Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking for. Still, if they want even a respectable ball club in 2012 then they are going to need some offense, and Carlos Beltran delivers in this category.
Giants outfielder and former playoff hero Cody Ross may not be a star, but he is a viable option. He has the ability to be a top home run producer for the Cubs (which does not take much given their current roster), while boasting better on-base numbers than the Cubs' other sluggers Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto.
At 30 years old, Ross is young enough to have a few more decent years, but Ross is not the type of player the Cubs will build around. If Ross signs with the Cubs, it will likely be a short contract.