Adding a Veteran Bat is High on the Cubs Off-Season List

The front office has been talking about the importance of adding veteran leadership to the young clubhouse this off-season. Even with the emergence of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, the Cubs think a veteran presence is needed to not only help win games on the field but to help the prospects make the transition to the big leagues.

As Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer said this week, the Cubs are well-positioned to add impact starting pitching to the roster from outside the organization. The main priority for the Cubs is adding pitching to the organization over the next 12-24, but the Cubs are also exploring ways to mix in veteran position players to the roster. And Jed Hoyer said Friday adding a veteran bat that can get on base is high on the list for the Cubs going into the off-season.

During his weekly segment on The Kap & Haugh Show (87.7 The Game), Jed Hoyer talked about the two areas the Cubs will focus on this winter, pitching and veteran position players.

“I think it is one of these two things and I don’t think I would prioritize one over the other,” Hoyer said on The Kap & Haugh Show. “I think we obviously have to add starting pitching this winter and we will be looking to do that. Despite what we talked about with [Tsuyoshi] Wada and [Kyle] Hendricks and all of those guys, we still need to add a lot more arms to our mix. That will be one of the main things we focus on.”

PrintAnd while the front office is looking at ways to add impact starting pitching from outside the organization, the Cubs will also explore options to add veteran position players Epstein and Hoyer feel the team lacks with the way the roster is currently constructed.

“Second thing is going to be a real focus on finding some guys that can get on base,” Hoyer said. “If they can be left-handed that would be great because our guys are predominately right handed, so left-handed bats that can get on base or any bats that can get on base would be great. One of the things we’ve talked about is that our power is fantastic and we’re going to hit a lot of home runs and we will be able to spread some games out. We’ve got to turn those into two-run and three-run homers. Solo shots don’t win. We are going to have to really make sure that we can add some guys that can get on base.”

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said on the record that the Cubs have the financial flexibility to add talent from outside of the organization, plus the front office has the prospect currency to make trades if that is the direction the front office decides to take. All signs are pointing to it being a busy off-season for the Chicago Cubs.

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  • jtrain23

    The F.O. Has been very vocal lately about how much flexibility there is to add pitching and position players this offseason. It is rare to hear a last place club talking about adding a few pieces to reach a competitive position in the next season. I know there has been a recent mood of excitement in the fan base following the promotion of players like Baez, Alcantara, Soler, and Hendricks. Castro and Rizzo have both had good seasons. I wonder if all of this proactive talk is stemming from pressure that the organization is feeling.

    The fan base has been very…..very patient. The prospects are panning out and the young studs are playing well. They might be feeling some pressure to attempt to be competitive next year. Although I would like nothing more, I hope pressure from the fan base doesn’t push the organization into taking unwarranted chances or severely overpaying players in hope of being relevant next year. After waiting out for this rebuild, it would be terrible to NOW mortgage the future to play in the present.

    • J Daniel

      Don’t think they are going to mortgage. I just think it it time that they start to add a few vets. Really, a OF and C are the two positions. If you look at where they are, IMO, it is:

      LF – vet signing
      CF – Alcantra/vet
      RF – Soler
      3B – Bryant
      SS – Castro until Russell is ready
      2B – Baez
      1B – Rizzo
      C – Castillo/vet

      I think it will be important moving forward to add a vet catcher that can command the staff and add leadership. Obviously they have more options coming as well but they are now in position to add without mortgaging and become a viable playoff option.

      • Tony_H

        Keep in mind, the LF vet would have to be more productive than a platoon of Coghlan/Ruggiano/Sweeney. Not sure they will find that out there in one player.

        I still think Catcher is the position to try and fill what they are looking to add as the rest is pretty set for next year. They also said it is likely to be a bench player/role player vet.

        • J Daniel

          I do agree and it is going to happen over couple of off seasons. Maybe they do not add at LF yet as it will be a guy they have now.

        • Eugene Debs

          No, it doesn’t have to beat the platoon. Getting close would allow two roster spots to be used elsewhere. Those three guys are all end of the bench players. They’ve performed admirably, but they will be nice platoon players for other teams in the future.

          • Tony_H

            They will have 4 OF’s again, one is Soler and the second is Alcantara. The 3rd and 4th OF will be 2 of those 3. If they sign someone the 4th OF will be one of those 3. No real roster spots saved.

      • GaryLeeT

        The FO likes to go with who they know. Maybe sign Lester, and Headley, then just move Bryant to the OF. As was discussed a couple of nights ago, I like the idea of adding Martin at catcher, or trading for Wieters.

        • BigJonLilJon

          I don’t think we need Headley. Would love Martin and leave Bryant at 3rd for now. Add Lester, and reevaluate the SP staff at the break

          • mutantbeast

            Martin doesnt even have to be an impact hitter. Just what he does for the pitching staff alone makes him valuable. And hes been a winner everywhere hes been. Can you imagine how good an Arrieta or a Turner might be with Martin catching them?

          • J Daniel

            That is exactly what they need. A catcher that has been around a little bit and can command the staff as well as be a leader in the clubhouse.

          • Eugene Debs

            Yeah, Headley hasn’t exactly performed well lately.

      • mutantbeast

        Russell Martin,Russell Martin Russell Martin. He alone likley improves our staff, Lester Scherzer or niether of the above. Think about it, Martin made Francisco Liriano and Edison Volquez into better pitchers. I imagine he can do the same with Jake Arrieta and Turner.

    • Tony_H

      Pitching has not been for this off-season but over the next 12-18 months. They could very well not add any SP this off-season and wait until the July trading season to add on then.

      • J Daniel

        Yes, think it depends on if they can get Lester or not. IMO he is their target and will do their best to sign him. Do not think they will extend on Scherzer if they can’t sign him at a legit offer/contract.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I don’t think it’s pressure. And I don’t think they’ll mortgage the future. I really don’t expect any of our top young talent to be traded. They’ll sign FA, and if a good player has a dispute or something and there is a chance to make a one sided trade, then we’d be in. But Russell, Castro, Rizzo, Baez, Soler, Schwarber, Alcantara, McKinney, Almora…none of them will be dealt. Maybe, maybe Baez…maybe Almora. But I doubt it.

      They are now talking about doing this because I think even the FO is surprised where we are at now. We have a legitimate shot to be in the postseason next year. Probably will whether we make a move or not. But make a couple moves, and we really have a shot.

      • jtrain23

        I agree. I really don’t think they would make any rash moves either. The F.O. has a reputation for being frugal. I am all for signing some vets, but you have to make sure you don’t get into long, valuable contracts. You don’t want to be five years down the road and not able to resign your young guys because you signed a 33 year old to a 4-5 year contract that you can’t get rid of. I don’t think it would be the case, but anything is possible after the E. Jackson signing and that is a bit scary.

  • SirGladiator

    I hope we go all out on Mike Stanton. He’s the type of guy we need, an all star bat who can provide both leadership and protection for our young hitters. Miami needs to trade him, as it’s quite clear he wants to play for a winner, not them. Obviously he isn’t the same type of ‘veteran’ as a 35 or so year old guy would be, but he’s got experience, and he’s proven to be one of the best hitters in the game, so he’d be exactly the type of player we need. We can still go get an old guy or two, but Stanton is at the top of my list of bats I’d like to trade for, he’s a real difference maker, a game changer, he’s a guy who brings you World Series rings, when you’re able to surround him with talent, like we can and Miami can’t.

    • Tony_H

      Too expensive. He will cost a ton in trade, let alone you would have to agree to a long term extension before making a trade which will be very difficult to do.

      Baez, Russell, P Johnson and 2 lower level players would be the starting point for Stanton. I think Soler and Bryant is our Stanton.

      • SirGladiator

        Not sure why the assumption that it’d take an insane amount to get him, certainly if you’re right I wouldn’t do it, but I don’t see any reason to believe that. He’s made it pretty clear he’s going to run not walk to a contender the first chance he gets, so it’s not like Miami is in the catbird’s seat in any negotiations, the acquiring team is. If I’m Team Theo, I’d be pretty confident that Castro or Baez (my preference would be Castro) would be the centerpiece of what I’d have to give, then throw in a couple lower level guys and you’ve got a deal. Of course that is predicated upon Stanton being willing to sign a long term deal, but he wants to play for a winner, and in Chicago he’d have a chance to win a LOT of rings, so I’m sure he’d eagerly sign.

        • Tony_H

          He is not a free agent for 2 more years. No trading team will have anything in their favor unless he is not traded until July 31st, 2016. It will be a major bidding war to trade for him.

    • mutantbeast

      NO way. Right now, Id rather keep Soler. Less $ and massive upside.

    • ryjo723

      I disagree. He’s a great offensive player but has already had some injury concerns and would cost way too much in terms of prospects. I think he and Bryant are very comparable in terms of OPS and would rather save Baez, Soler, and other players in the system. I’m not a fan of going all in for one guy-especially when the team is more than one player away.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Boston is going to give everything they have to sign him. I think a lot of these trade deadline moves were made with the plan to use the assets to get Stanton.

  • Jeffrey Rogers

    We need a high OBP guy. I don’t care if he has NEVER hit a HR. Obviously, it almost has to be an outfielder.

  • setheron

    I’m thinking Ben Revere, Matt Joyce or Milky Cabrera for the outfield and
    Lester being the priority.

    • Endy

      I think denard span and Russell Martin could be perfect fits. Castillos hitting has really slumped and span is LH obp of. Biggest challenge will be contract length. 2 yrs max

      • Tony_H

        Cabrera may be a better fit than Span, but I like him as well. 2 years max is the key.

      • mutantbeast

        Melky is likely to want a 3/4 yr contract. and he has character issues. Id go after Lester and Martin first. Id go after Span before Melky. Better defender , decent OBP, just doesnt have power for a corner OF. As long as its no longer than 2 yrs, Id like Span better than Melky.

    • Tony_H

      I would take Cabrera on a 2 year deal, the others are not an improvement on what we have. Lester would be great.

  • Jeff Wilson

    I wonder if Cubs can find a TOR guy that will take a heavily front loaded contract, for 3 or 4 years, with options to add years on if they are still producing.

    • Tony_H

      Not Scherzer or Lester that’s for sure. That leaves Shields who could be interested as he will be 33 next season, he may not get the 4 and 5 year offers.

      • mutantbeast

        I like Shields also Tony, but I see only one issue with him. Hes too much like Hendricks. 2 soft toss righties whose best pitch is a Changeup is one too many.

        • Tony_H

          I am not sold on Shields, just of the 3 guys I would consider adding he is the only one who fit Jeff’s thought on a contract. If we don’t sign Lester or Scherzer I think we pass on FA SP’s.

          • Eugene Debs

            I’d pass on Shields.

    • ryjo723

      That would be great but I think this team needs one of the two big FA, if they go after picking on the market at all. We have a few candidates for back of the rotation and Arrieta as a legit #2. We need a #1, and I think it has to be Later or Scherzer, since I don’t see a trade coming this off season for an ace. Maybe they can get one of them on a heavily front-loaded 6-year contract?

  • Tony_H

    Another name is Nick Markakis. The Orioles finally moved him into the lead-off hitter role he is more suited for than batting 3rd,

    • ryjo723

      Good call but I think he’ll be able to get more money than this team will offer. I think a team or there will pay him based on his name and resume from a couple years ago instead of paying him for what he is today.

  • Ripken Boy

    1B: Rizzo 2b: Baez SS: Russell 3B: Castro
    LF: free agent CF: Alcantra or free agent RF: Bryant

    Russell and Bryant will start season in minors. Castro will stay at SS until Russell comes up with Bryant in May. Olt/Valbuena will play 3B until this happens.

    Veteran bat will be Colby Rasmus.

    • Tony_H

      You forgot the guy who hit 2 HR’s last night and is batting over 700 so far.

    • J Daniel

      Soler will be the Right Fielder. They could move Bryant to LF. I think they will deal Castro, have Russell at SS, and Baez will be at 3b unless he can really handle the double play at 2b.

  • Chris Coghlan

    The cubs need a left-handed bat that can get on base. The infield (Bryant, Baez, Castro, Rizzo) is spoken for, Soler looks good, Alcantara, leaving LF as the most likely place to add that bat.

    What am I, chopped liver? >:-(

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I think you’re a good player. If you start in LF I’m fine with that.

    • Tony_H

      No but you will be really good 4th OF next year :)

  • Eugene Debs

    Think what Terry Pendleton, Syd Bream, and Charlie Liebrandt meant to the young Braves of the early 1990’s.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Great example Eugene…1997 Marlins too. Alou, Daulton…

      • Eugene Debs

        It’s getting real.

  • VBCubs

    Sign 5 players this offseason. Jon Lester, Brandon McCarthy, Melky Cabrera, Russell Martin, and Andrew Miller.

    C- Russell Martin
    1B- Anthony Rizzo
    2B- Javier Baez
    SS- Starlin Castro
    3B- Kris Bryant
    LF- Melky Cabrera
    CF- Arismendy Alcantara
    RF- Jorge Soler

    C- Wellington Castillo
    IF- Luis Valbuena
    IF- Mike Olt/Logan Watkins
    OF- Chris Coghlan
    OF- Justin Ruggiano

    1- Jon Lester
    2- Jake Arrieta
    3- Kyle Hendricks
    4- Brandon McCarthy
    5- Travis Wood

    CP- Neil Ramirez
    SU- Hector Rondon
    SU- Andrew Miller
    MR- Pedro Strop
    MR- Arodys Vizcaino
    MR- Armando Rivero/Justin Grimm
    LR- Grimm/Wada/Turner/Doubrount

    • Tony_H

      No on McCarthy and no on Miller. We already have plenty of McCarthy types to choose from and our bullpen does not need a high priced addition.

      • VBCubs

        After I posted this I saw that Wright was arb eligible. So cancel that one out.

        • Tony_H

          And we have a lefty after Wright, Rosscup, even Rusin named McKirahan in Tennessee that will likely get added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule V that could be up soon. And we already have to many RH’s to fit them all next year. Good problems.

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