The Chicago Cubs have been giving out minor league deals with a lot of regularity in this offseason, so far focusing on bullpen arms. First came a waiver claim on hard throwing man-mountain Robert Stock, then they’ve spend the last two days reaching minor league deals with former Yankee James Holder and former National James Borque.
Both Stock and Bourque are guys who throw hard. Holder is a guy who generates a lot of spin on his pitches, but isn’t an upper-90s guy like the other two. This looks like Jed Hoyer’s quest is to find guys that will sign on the cheap in hopes that the pitch lab can help them become serviceable (or even quality) big league relievers. Look, if this pitch lab winds up being an actual thing, the Cubs will be in the unique position of being a place where guys will be happy to sign bargain deals in hopes of the lab doing magical things and they can go get that cheddar once they’re able to get big league hitters out.
Of course, no mention of a player named Bourque would be complete without mentioning early-70s Cubs legend and guy who looks like a goon from a “Rockford Files” episode, Pat Bourque.
There’s still a lot of work to do for Hoyer, even if he hires a GM so he doesn’t have to do all the GM stuff any more. The Cubs still only have either two outfielders, or three with David Bote becoming the every day third baseman. I’m not sure which of those is a better option. They also need a middle-of-the-rotation guy.
Both of these options can be filled quite neatly by simply bringing guys back. The guys over at Bleacher Nation covered the fact that Kyle Schwarber is open to returning to the Cubs. This probably means that while fans love seeing 450 foot Schwarbombs, GMs look a little deeper into our Kyle and see a three outcome hitter who is a defensive liability unless guys run on him. Because of his exploits in the 2016 World Series, he simply has more value to the Cubs franchise from a marketing standpoint than he’d have to any other team. There’s a chance that he and the Cubs wind up hooking up again like Brenda and Eddie in that Billy Joel song.
Meanwhile, both Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana are free agents coming off injury plagued 2020 seasons. Quintana will get more interest than Chatwood, simply by virtue of wearing his glove on his right hand. But in both cases, they might find the market tepid, and might have to bet on themselves, taking one year deals either on the north side or elsewhere.
Meanwhile at 35th and Shields, they’re pretty much set for the upcoming season. They had a void in the rotation that was filled quite nicely by Lance Lynn. They upgraded RF (at least on the field) with Adam Eaton. If I’m a Sox fan, I’m working my rosary really hard so they don’t decide to fill the hole behind the plate with Yadier Molina.
They still need a closer, and the best one out there is Liam Hendriks, and by all accounts the Sox are in on him. If he goes somewhere else, Brad Hand is still out there. So they’re in pretty good shape.
Now let’s see how wrong I am.