|Free Agency could be Appealing to Cubs||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on June 22, 2011
The Cubs are an organization desperate to rebuild.¬† Right now the team is merely treading water trying to play some entertaining games and keep the fans happy until they can finally get it done.¬† New ownership, in place now for about 18 months is counting the days until they are free to really get their game plan going.¬† That won't happen during the 2011, but the Cubs at the end of this year will be shedding almost $50 million in payroll.
Instead of putting that money into their pockets and waiting for their young players to develop (and the contracts of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano expire) management has indicated that the Cubs will be players, perhaps one of the few with serious money to spend during the offseason.¬† High on their wishlist will be a slugging first baseman, and while they can't say because of baseball's non interference rules, the player they are obviously targeting will be Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.
The Cardinals will no doubt be focusing on Albert Pujols, who will garner plenty of interest and for who there is apt to be a fair amount of competition -- including from some of the same teams who'll be willing to pass on Fielder.¬† So unless Pujols signs elsewhere and Fielder is still on the market, the Cards are unlikely to be bidding Fielder up.
That's not to say that the Cubs (buy tickets here) won't or aren't willing to chase Pujols, but as Chicago seems a very unlikely destination for the slugger the Cubs interest might just be there to drive the price up a bit higher.
And like every other team in baseball, the Cubs will be looking for starting pitching, but the 2011-2012 class won't be featuring any marquee type pitchers unless CC Sabathia opts for free agency (likely), or you have a taste for Chris Carpenter, Roy Oswalt Rich Harden or Mark Buehrle.¬† None of the latter is really number one starter material at this point in their career, and Adam Wainwright who the Cardinals could release will be coming off of major surgery.¬† There will be some promising names on the list though, including Edwin Jackson and plenty of solid but unspectacular number 2-4 starters.
They'll also be looking for a new third baseman if they don't feel that top prospect Josh Vitters is ready to make the jump to the bigs.¬† Realistically Vitters is at least another full season away from being a solid contributor, so the Cubs will probably just find a veteran placeholder to keep the position warm while Vitters gets the hang of hitting at AAA and gets a cup of coffee in the bigs so they can see just where he really is developmentally.
Still this all bodes well, or at least better for the 2012 Cubs, but it's the 2013-2014 Chicago team who'll be transformed into contenders in the NL Central.