In trading Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees, the Cubs freed up a good chunk of the young infielder’s salary. This allowed them to go out on the free-agent market and sign Ben Zobrist to fill the slot at second base. In the Castro trade, they also acquired starting pitcher Adam Warren, a young player with years of control left and a big up-side moving forward who could land a position at the end of the rotation in spring training.
With Dexter Fowler gone, the Cubs went all in on a high dollar, $184-million deal with Gold Glove right fielder Jason Heyward. Their plan is to shift his plus defense to center field. Heyward is young, one of the youngest players of his caliber to ever hit free agency, and will be an offensive and defensive upgrade. This puts Scwharber (who is working hard at becoming a better fielder) in left, Heyward in center, and Jorge Soler, who could be poised for the break-out year everyone has been waiting for in right. In the wings are Chris Coghlan, Matt Szczur, Juan Perez and several others ready to fill in – as well as the possibility of seeing either Javier Baez or Ben Zobrist play in case of injury, or if Joe Maddon starts getting creative with his batting order again.
Over the offseason the Cubs have quietly amassed a wealth of pitching talent. Starting with the addition of John Lackey to follow Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the rotation, they added Warren, resigned Trevor Cahill, who performed very well for them in September and October, and will have an army of talent in Spring Training vying for a chance to make the roster.
The long and middle relief arms, Travis Wood, Cahill, Clayton Richard, Adam Warren (at the moment) and even Justin Grimm were told to report “ready as starters,” and they bring solid relief capability with the added bonus of starting rotation depth. There are several young pitchers ready to break, some veteran relievers, and a few ‘bargains’ – guys who either had an off year, or are coming back from injury, getting a chance in Arizona this spring.
With Addison Russell ready to hit his first full year at short stop, the talented veteran Zobrist at second, sluggers and fan favorites Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant at the corners, the infield is strong, with Tommy La Stella and Javier Baez ready to step in at multiple positions, the depth is solid.
ACQUISITIONS GRADE: A