Jim Hendry and the Cubs filled the needs we had this offseason by signing Carlos Pena to play first base, Kerry Wood to bolster the bullpen and trading for Matt Garza to strengthen the rotation. I don’t think we will make any more major moves, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another trade or two go down. I can see us trading Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and/or Tom Gorzelanny to make room in the starting rotation for Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner and/or Casey Coleman.
Now that I am looking ahead I want to take a look at potential free agents after this upcoming season. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but there are a lot of players out there that we could sign to make our team one of the leading contenders in 2012. We have a lot of money coming off the books at the end of this season and there are some big names that would be available that I would love to see playing for the Cubs. So, here’s my list of players in no particular order. If I’ve missed a player or two let me know.
Okay, I know that thinking we could land Albert Pujols is more of a dream than even close to reality. But this is my dream and I’m in control of it. Albert is the best player in baseball. It sucks for me because he plays for our Arch rival, the Cardinals. Yet, you have to love watching him hit. I’ve been to several games at Busch Stadium, I live a lot closer to St. Louis than Chicago, and the ball just sounds different when he hits it. So, if for some amazing reason, Pujols is a free agent after this season I say we load up an offer that would dwarf Alfonso Soriano’s deal. However, I see the Cards signing him before spring training, but I could be wrong.
If Pujols isn’t available, I say we go after Adrian Gonzalez. He hasn’t signed an extension with Boston yet, and he’s a stud too. He’s been an obsession of mine for quite some time now. He’s a great hitter and I think he would hit 40+ homers in Wrigley every year. Plus, he plays great defense. He’s two years younger than Pujols and a lefty. I don’t see this one happening either. Instead, I see Gonzalez pounding out homers and playing gold glove defense in beantown for several years to come. With Pedroia and Crawford batting in front of him I think he’s a potential leader for RBIs in the American League if not all of baseball.
Since I don’t think we have a realistic chance to sign Pujols or Gonzalez, I will give you my first serious potential free agent. It’s obviously Prince Fielder if you’ve looked at the picture to your left. If you can’t tell, I think the Cubs need to focus on first base at the end of this season. I am not completely sold on Carlos Pena as the long term solution at first base for the Cubs. Fielder is younger than Pujols and Gonzalez and would provide us with power from the left side of the plate. His defense is no where close to the previous two firstbasemen, but I can live with that if we are able to sign him. Just imagine Fielder, who will be 28 in 2012, as our everyday first baseman for the next 5 or 6 years. He would definitely give the Cubs a power bat in the middle of the lineup.
Since we traded Hak-Ju Lee to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal, it appears we will no longer look to move Starlin Castro to second base. So, we could easily sign another Brewer to play for the Cubs in Rickie Weeks. Attempting to sign both players may increase our chances instead of trying to sign only one of them. Weeks is a tremendous athlete with power and speed. He’s a better option at second than Blake DeWitt in my opinion and would give the Cubs another good player under the age of 30. He’ll be 29 in September of this year.
So far, I think we should seriously consider Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. That would cover first and second base. Starlin Castro is our shortstop and we could re-sign Aramis Ramirez to play third. There aren’t any thirdbasemen that interest me that will be free agents after this season. I would like to think we could hold on to Ramirez until Josh Vitters is ready.
The only outfielder that interests me is Grady Sizemore. He’ll be 29 in August this year and when healthy, is one of the better players in the game. With Marlon Byrd signed through the 2012 season I don’t see this one happening. However, Sizemore is a legitimate 30/30 threat and would give us another lefthanded bat in our linuep. We have Soriano signed through 2014 and I doubt we are able to move him unless we take on a huge chunk of his contract. Tyler Colvin is our rightfielder for the future. He’s also lefthanded and possesses some power, but I want to see what he does in a full season for us. We also have Brett Jackson who I see as our centerfielder of the future. While signing Sizemore sounds applealing, I doubt it happens. The main reason for this doubt is the Indians have a club option on Sizemore for 2012 at $8.5 million. I see them exercising this option. So, don’t count on Sizemore being a Cub.
There are a few starters I would love to add if the price was right. I personally have a mild interest in Edwin Jackson and Wandy Rodriguez. The only pitcher that I think would make a big impact is Roy Oswalt. Adding him to our rotation would be great. Maybe a 2-3 year deal would work, but I have a feeling he will stay in Philly.
Overall, I think we will have some moves to make after this upcoming season. We need to build our team for the long haul. Adding Weeks and Fielder would be a step in the right direction.