After the additions of Jon Lester and David Ross to the roster, the front office was supposed to shift its focus to adding depth to the outfield.
Theo Epstein said, “Outfield is probably one area where we’re most focused if we were going to add a significant or semi-significant piece the rest of the way. I don’t feel like we have the depth of quality outfielders that we have in certain other areas of the team, so you could see something there.”
And Jed Hoyer added, “We are still working on a number of things in the outfield. I think that’s really an area where we are young and talented, but certainly we are going to look to make a move out there, maybe even multiple moves. I do feel like we want to make sure we have depth.”
On the free agent front, the Cubs could still be interested in free agent outfielders Jonny Gomes and Chris Denorfia. The team has been connected to both veterans throughout the off-season and Gomes reportedly is interested in signing with the Cubs.
The Cubs would like to add a top of the order bat to the mix, preferably an outfielder that plays center and hits from the left side. And there isn’t a player available on the free agent market that fits what the front office is believed to be searching for this winter.
So if the Cubs are going to make a move or multiple moves in the outfield, as Jed Hoyer said, the front office will have to explore making a trade or two.
Jon Paul Morosi reported Saturday he expects “heavy activity” early in the New Year on trades for outfield bats.
Morosi indicated there are nine teams with outfield depth to trade and the Cubs are one of at least nine teams looking for upgrades in the outfield, or “at least one unsettled outfield spot on their 25-man roster.”
According to Morosi, the following outfielders could be available in the right deal:
Marlon Byrd (Phillies), Jay Bruce (Reds), Ben Zobrist (Rays), Wil Myers (Padres), Seth Smith (Padres), Will Venable (Padres), Cameron Maybin (Padres), Carlos Quentin (Padres), Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies), Corey Dickerson (Rockies), Drew Stubbs (Rockies), Mark Trumbo (Diamondbacks), David Peralta (Diamondbacks), Ender Inciarte (Diamondbacks), Cody Ross (Diamondbacks), Andre Ethier (Dodgers), Carl Crawford (Dodgers), Nick Swisher (Indians), David Murphy (Indians), Ryan Rayburn (Indians) and Josh Hamilton (Angels).
The Cubs have been connected to four left-handed hitting outfielders they could possibly acquire via a trade in Ben Revere (Phillies), Seth Smith (Padres), Carl Crawford (Dodgers) and Andre Ethier (Dodgers). Bruce Levine shot down the Cubs rumored interest in Ben Revere and he reported Seth Smith as well as one of the Dodgers’ left-handed hitting outfielders could be of interest to the Cubs.
The Cubs have players that could be moved in the right deal for an outfielder, namely Welington Castillo.
The Diamondbacks and Phillies reportedly contacted the front office about Castillo after the Cubs acquired Miguel Montero. The Dodgers, Padres, Nationals, Red Sox and Rangers could also be among the teams interested in trading for Welington Castillo.
Another area of depth the Cubs could deal from is back-of-the-rotation-type starters. With the additions of Jon Lester and Jason Hammel, the Cubs have four candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation in Travis Wood, Tsuyoshi Wada, Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner that are out of minor league options. And dealing one of those arms would not leave the Cubs shorthanded for options in the rotation.
Dan Straily, Dallas Beeler and Eric Jokisch are on the 40-man roster and have minor league options left. Plus, Edwin Jackson is under contract for two more years. It’s unclear what Jackson’s role will be with the team moving forward if the Cubs are not able to trade him this winter.
The Cubs and the rest of baseball took a small break for the holiday, but it should be an interesting seven weeks leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training.