You might have heard a little something about it being the MLB offseason. Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer finally hired himself a new sidekick in new General Manager Carter Hawkins who is, as of this writing, approximately 15 years old. Now that Jed has his, er, Jed, the two of them can get down to business and start working on rebui... er, retooling the Cubs roster so it can get back on its way to winning again.
I realize that everyone has their own wishlist of what they think Jarter should be doing this winter to fortify the Cubs, because we're all experts and secretly run MLB teams behind the scenes, so I'm taking this opportunity to weigh in on what I would like to see the Cubs FO do this winter to get the squad back on its way to the perpetual W column. I'm also taking into account that any moves the Cubs make will be either 1) short-term deals that will yield immediate results to supplement the team until all of those promising guys on the farm are ready, or 2) long-term deals that will still be yielding results when those guys are ready to contribute. In other words, no, I don't expect Jed to be ringing up Anthony Rizzo to revisit that 5 year/$70 million offer after Rizzo's second year of decline in a row.
I'm also making this list knowing that while the Cubs have a metric butt-ton of money coming off the books this winter, they won't want to spend it all in one place. I don't expect them to tie up payroll in 4 or 5 long-term deals out of the gate.
With that in mind, here's what I want!
Shopping in the QO Section
I know much is being made by a lot of fans and media types about how the Cubs absolutely will not be in play for any players that have been given a qualifying offer. Me? I don't necessarily think that's true. While I don't think the Cubs will go after any pitchers that have a QO attached (they're all either too old or have too much risk attached, a la Noah Syndergaard, I do think it's highly plausible that the Cubs could sign a player with a QO attached. A player. Not more than that, but one impactful player? It's very possible. So my first choice in this category?
Seager turns 28 in April 2022, so he's still got plenty of youth on his side and peak years ahead of him. The Cubs have made it pretty clear that they want Nico Hoerner to be more of a super utility type than their every day shortstop, a la Ben Zobrist, and the team needs an elite lefty bat to replace the above average one that just left in Rizzo. Injuries are a concern with Seager--he's had a few years where he missed significant time on the IL. That said, he's a plus defender at his position, so much so that the Dodgers moved Trea Turner to 2B so Seager could stay in position. He also doesn't strike out a ton compared to the entire Cubs roster--he has a lifetime 18.5 K%. Most pundits are predicting him somewhere in the 7 year/$200 million range, and if the Cubs are gonna hand out one big deal, this should probably be it. If they can't get Seager, I'd settle for...
We know what Big Swingin' Nick can do in Wrigley. It's different than what he's done in the Great American Ballpark--fewer home runs, more doubles, but either way... he makes contact. He hits for extra bases. He drives guys in. All Nick does is hit. That's also the other thing, though--ALL Nick does is hit. Make no mistake, if the Cubs are signing Castellanos, they're signing him to be a designated hitter. You do not want Nick Castellanos to be your every day outfielder. He's not good. He's fun. He has great quotes. He's a good teammate. He CANNOT play defense. He is what people think Kyle Schwarber is in the outfield, only a lot worse. To that end, I think Nick's market might be a little depressed from what he might have in mind. A few outlets have him around 4/$80 million, and I'd do that in a heartbeat if I'm the Cubs, even with the QO.
The Unfettered Free Agents
If you didn't see this coming, then you clearly don't read this blog. Or follow me on Twitter. Do you even know me at all, people?!? I've been on the Stro Express for a loooooong time, and now that he's finally free from all the machinations of the QO and everything else that held him back, it's time to pounce! Stroman had a 3.02 ERA with the Hot Mess Mets this season, increasing his strikeout rate with an increased reliance on his split change. His ground ball rate remained steady--he's exactly the kind of pitcher that thrives in the Cubs organization--but he's also missing more bats now. Yay! I would also look forward to his daily takedowns of guys like David Kaplan and Jesse Rogers on Twitter whenever they vomit out their terrible, player-hating taeks. It would be glorious! If the Cubs could get him on a 4-5 year deal around $20 million AAV like a lot of folks are predicting, they need to snap that up right away.
The Cubs should ALSO target...
The Cubs need to add at least one power arm this offseason, and with the disappointing Mets disappointingly saddling Noah Syndergaard with a QO, his injury history makes him too risky a gamble. Gray, though, is a guy who could perfectly fit the bill as a short-term guy to fill in some gaps. The Cubs shouldn't be willing to go longer than 3 years on a deal for Gray, but they definitely should be willing to take a chance on a guy who can hit 97 and be successful in Coors Field.
I fully expect Jarter to be active in the trade market this offseason, and there are a few really intriguing candidates out there that could fill in some big gaps in the Cubs roster.
Folks, it's time to raid the A's. Since they're selling, the Cubs should be buying, and Matt Olson has quietly become an elite lefty power bat at first base over here on the West Coast. Olson is only 27 and has 2 more arbitration-eligible years before he becomes a free agent, racking up 39 home runs and a 146 wRC+ this year with the A's. He had the lowest K% of his career this year, too, and if he keeps that up he's the guy who could anchor a lineup for the next decade. His defense leaves a bit to be desired, but maybe leaving those cavernous foul territories in Oakland will help? (Maybe I'm grasping at straws here.). The Cubs would have to part with some of those shiny new prospects they just picked up, but that's partially what they're for, right? Plus, if the A's are looking to shed salary, then maybe Devious Jed can work some magic here.
I blame Bert over at Bleacher Nation for selling me on the Cubs trading for Glasnow. It almost makes TOO much sense, though, in terms of the Cubs' short-term plans. Buy low on Glasnow while he's recovering from Tommy John, then have a 100 mph flamethrower who looks like a Disney Prince in your starting rotation in 2023. If he's healthy? Throw money at him for an extension! It's almost too good!
Back to raiding the A's... if Glasnow doesn't pan out, Montas might work just as well. Another flamethrower, Montas has more time left in arbitration before he'll hit the open market. Of course, that'll mean more prospect pain for the Cubs, but it might be worth it if they can get a 4-win pitcher out of it who throws in the high 90's.
Shut up. Let me dream.
So there you have it... my top wishlist targets for the Cubs this offseason. Whether Jarter listen to me or not is a totally different story, but I'm actually excited to see what the new gruesome twosome come up with this winter to start building the next Cubs dynasty. Or something.