Is it just me or is the Cubs offseason activities seem predictable this year? I feel the front office is being very up front when stating they will have financial constraints this offseason but also believe they will spend money where money makes sense. I also believe the front office is ready to start turning the corner on this 5 year rebuilding plan heading into year 3. This means they are likely starting to prepare the team more and more to make that playoff push. This means new acquisitions, trading assets, and putting money into the now/future players. I think all of this starts this year and really ramps up year 4 and 5. These are 5 moves I see the front office making heading into 2014 season.
Move #1: Fire Sveum/Hire Girardi
Probably the first move that is going to be made this off-season is the firing of Dale Sveum and the hiring of Chicago native Joe Girardi. The front office has asked the fan base, media, and players to be patient because this rebuilding process takes time but we ALL need something. That something is the firing of Sveum and hiring of Girardi. The move signals another big step in the rebuilding process. A signal that says the Cubs are starting the process of competing by adding a manager who is a proven winner, talent developer, and overall beloved Chicagoan Joe Girardi. By adding Joe they are stating “the organization has their guys in place that has experience with all phases of the managing game and he is going to take the Chicago Cubs to the next level and beyond. Joe Girardi symbolizes the start of the light that leads us to the end of the tunnel.” The fact is there has been too many red flags for the Dale Sveum era Cubs. The recent turmoil in the clubhouse, the regression of core players, in game decisions, and various other things make a decision of firing Sveum easy. But what makes it easier is filling his place with Joe Girardi. This is the single most important move of the off-season and I now believe there is a 50/50 shot of it actually happening. (Note: I also tie in the coaching changes here as well.)
Move #2: Win the bidding and signing of Masahiro Tanaka
The biggest free agent on the market is 24 year old right-handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. He will be a part of a high bidding process just like Yu Darvish but he may not be as good. Do not get me wrong this guys is good, controllable, and a possible future ace. He has a career ERA of 2.32 in 1284 IP or his over 1200 SO during that time. But what is even more impressive is this year he is 20-0 with 23 game started, 181 IP, .934 WHIP, 1.3 BB/9, 7 SO/9, and sparkling 1.24 ERA. This is a guy the Cubs cannot miss on which is why making this the next big move of the offseason a must and regardless of money will happen.
Move #3: Trade Jeff Samardzija
This move purely hinges on signing Tanaka in the essence that it is much easier to trade Shark with the addition of Tanaka than it is without. Trading him is possible and recommended either way which is explained in great detail in a previous post here.
Move #4: Sign Curtis Granderson
This is a move that needs to be done. The Cubs do have two capable players on the current roster to man CF with Sweeney and Bogusevic but none have the impact that Granderson does. I also do not feel that Lake is an adequate fit for CF either. I think the Cubs signing the veteran CF is a wise idea which I explained in a previous post here.
Move #5: Minor Signings and Re-signings (I put all of this under one transaction because I think all of these moves are on the low end and each don’t need their own number)
- Re-Sign Dioner Navarro: They need a back-up catcher and he is the best in the business right now.
- Re-Sign Donnie Murphy: Can play all over the infield and has some pop.
- Re-Sign Ryan Sweeney: The guy deserves a place on the team.
- Sign Jeff Baker, Mark DeRosa, or Corey Hart: Any one of them fills the need of a right-handed bat that can play 1st and OF which the Cubs desperately need. All have pros and cons but Hart has the most upside but injury issues plus cost could be a concern which makes Baker and DeRosa look more appealing.
- Sign a reliever or two with closer experience: There is a ton to pick from and the Cubs need veteran pen help.
I think it is obvious this should be the direction the Chicago Cubs front office will and should go. I believe it all starts from the top and works its way down. I believe if they do what I lay out here this offseason then the Cubs may end up surprising a lot of teams and even this fan base. If this does happen you could grade this up and coming offseason an A.
Until Next Time…