According to a report from Bruce Levine, centerfield is still a question mark for the Cubs. The front office would like to add another outfielder, beyond Chris Denorfia to the mix.
The Cubs haven’t announced the signing of Chris Denorfia to a one-year contract yet and will have to make room on the 40-man roster before adding him to the mix.
With Denorfia in the fold, the Cubs have options on the roster but a lot of questions as well. Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Ryan Sweeney, Junior Lake and Matt Szczur are the players listed as outfielders on the roster. Arismendy Alcantara actually played 48 games in the outfield last year, the fourth highest total of the players currently on the Cubs’ roster (Chris Coghlan, 101; Junior Lake, 91; Ryan Sweeney, 58).
While the perception is the Cubs have too many options for the infield, there is a reason the front office is trying to address the outfield.
Theo Epstein has said the Cubs are happy with the progress Arismendy Alcantara made defensively in centerfield last year. And if the season was ready to start, the front office would be fine with Alcantara in center. The Cubs are believed to be looking for an upgrade defensively that can also hit from the left side and provide depth at the same time to the outfield.
The Cubs think Alcantara is going to hit at the big league level. And he learned a lot after his call-up despite the numbers. Joe Maddon has heard nothing but good things about Alcantara this off-season after being impressed with him last season during the Rays’ three-game series at Wrigley.
With Maddon now calling the shots, it is believed the Cubs see Alcantara as more of a super-utility player that would still receive 400-plus at bats. The same way Maddon utilized Ben Zobrist. And according to Bruce Levine that is exactly how some within the organization view Alcantara because Maddon will “be looking for a Ben Zobrist-type player to develop during his tenure with the Cubs.”
The extent of the Cubs interest in Colby Rasmus is unknown. Rasmus’ market is rather weak right now with only three teams (Orioles, Rays, Cubs) connected to him in recent days.
Buck Showalter acknowledged he met with Colby Rasmus last weekend during an interview Wednesday on MLB Network Radio. Showalter did not give any details to Jim Bowden or Casey Stern due to the fact he hasn’t spoken to the Orioles’ beat writers about Rasmus.
The Orioles are very interested in Rasmus, according to multiple reports, and think Rasmus could get his career on track while playing a corner outfield spot. Adam Jones has centerfield covered.
According to Buster Olney, Rasmus could view a one-year deal with the Orioles as a way to build his value and test the market again next winter following a season of playing all of his home games in the hitter friendly Camden Yards. Olney used Nelson Cruz as an example of a player benefiting from a year with Showalter and hitting in Baltimore.
Jim Bowden added Wednesday the Orioles are working on signing “lesser free agents” such as Colby Rasmus and Norichika Aoki while Dan Duquette continues his dialogue with Andrew Friedman about a possible deal for Andre Ethier.
Bruce Levine did not confirm or shoot down the Cubs interest in Rasmus. All Levine had to say in regards to Rasmus was that he is “the lone true centerfielder left on the unsigned free agent list.” Rasmus is rather familiar with Wrigley Field from his days with the Cardinals and owns a .259/.338/.345 slash line in 17 games, 14 starts, with five doubles, no home runs and a .683 OPS.
As previously reported, the Rays are also interested in Colby Rasmus and Tampa signing him could be linked to Matt Silverman trading Ben Zobrist.
More Outfield Rumors
Jon Paul Morosi thought the outfield trade market would heat up after the first of the year. Before Marlon Byrd was dealt to the Reds and Seth Smith to the Mariners, Morosi provided a rather large list of outfielders that could be traded if their current team found the right deal.
Outfielders that Morosi reported Dec. 27 that could available: Jay Bruce (Reds), Ben Zobrist (Rays), Wil Myers (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).
Bruce Levine connected Denard Span and Coco Crisp to the Cubs, but neither centerfielder would seem to fit the Cubs’ plan at this point. The Nationals are trying to win, Mike Rizzo is not going to give Span away and it’s highly unlikely the front office would pay Rizzo’s asking price for what could be a one-year rental. Crisp has too many years left on his contract (two years, $22 million with an obtainable $13 million vesting option for a third year).
The Phillies reportedly have interest in Welington Castillo and Travis Wood and that could be how the Ben Revere rumor popped up. Bruce Levine shot down the Cubs interest in Revere, who could be used in a package with Cole Hamels to net an even better return for the Phillies.
Andre Ethier could be an option for the Cubs in centerfield, but obviously not as a leadoff hitter. Ethier has been loosely connected to the Cubs, but is believed to have been a favorite of Theo Epstein for a long time. The Dodgers would have to eat a ton of his remaining guaranteed contract (three years, $56 million) because the Cubs would be betting on the NL Central parks and a change of scenery reviving Ethier’s career.