The front office is exploring ways to add veteran leadership to the roster with players that not only fill a need for the team but are willing to help with the development of young players.
“We acknowledge the need for veterans,” Theo Epstein said last month. “Guys that have been around the league that know how to play, understand the grind of the season, know how to withstand the emotional rollercoaster, get through the losing streaks and not get too high on the winning streaks. There is something to be said for veterans who know the ropes.”
“We don’t need veterans who are out there for their own numbers, for their next contract. We need the type of veterans who are truly invested in the young players and want to see them succeed,” Epstein said. “There are a few guys out there like that. There are a couple that we have our eye on. If we have a successful off-season we will land at least one of those type players if not more.”
Jonny Gomes was thought to be a possibility for the Cubs prior to Joe Maddon being hired. And the connection to Maddon from their days together in Tampa only increased the Gomes-to-the-Cubs rumors. Gomes has a very good reputation as a clubhouse leader and teammate. Buster Olney sees a fit with the Cubs and he does not think it would require more than a one-year contract to sign him.
Gomes is limited defensively, but could handle limited duty left or right field at Wrigley and is familiar with the NL Central. Gomes struggled at the plate last season (.234/.327/.330 with eight doubles and six home runs) in 112 games between Boston and Oakland. Gomes can still hit lefties and batted .276/.373/.371 with four doubles and four home runs against southpaws in 2014.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, not only have the Cubs had internal discussion about Jonny Gomes, the front office has also discussed Michael Morse.
Michael Morse helped the Giants win its third World Series title in five years and was very good at the plate while dealing with nagging injuries. Morse has struggled staying on the field and the 131 games he played in 2014 was the second most in his career (146 in 2011). When Morse is able to play, he mashes the baseball (.279/.336/.475/.811 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs last season).
Teams might be leary of handing Michael Morse a multi-year contract and give him free agent dollars to be an everyday player based on his track record of spending more time on the disabled list than in a starting lineup. If the rest of the league views Morse as a part-time player at this point in his career, he could be an option for the Cubs as ESPN Chicago reported. But if Morse still wants to be guaranteed a starting job, it would be hard to see how Morse would fit into the Cubs’ Plan.
Before he signed a five-year contract with the Angels seven years ago, Torii Hunter said he would not sign with the Cubs because of Wrigley’s outfield brick walls. And that ended the possibility of then Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry signing Hunter to roam centerfield.
But Hunter is now in the twilight of his career, and could be a fit in a part-time role with the Cubs according to Buster Olney and ESPN Chicago. Bruce Levine mentioned Hunter as a possibility for the Cubs last month.
Torii Hunter hit .286/.319/.446 in 142 games for the Tigers in 2014 with 33 doubles, two triples and 17 home runs for a .765 OPS. Hunter brought up the ‘R’ word (retirement) at the end of the season but the 39-year old (turns 40 in June) batted .308/.340/.459/.799 with seven doubles and five home runs against lefties in 2014.
Torii Hunter is known as one of the very good guys in the game and a tremendous teammate.
The front office appears to be looking at all the available options on the free agent market for the players that would fit in with The Plan … the Winter Season has just begun.