If you were stretching to find a spot where the Chicago Cubs could add a full-time, veteran, impact positional player, you could make an argument for third base. If you don’t believe that the true infield glut will arrive until after 2015 (i.e., when Addison Russell almost certainly arrives at the latest), and if you believe Kris Bryant’s future is in the outfield (discussed this morning), then you could say that the Cubs have short-to-medium-term opening at third base. That is, of course, if you don’t think Luis Valbuena already projects to fill that short-to-medium-term opening nicely.
Like I said: if you were stretching.
Maybe you argue that Chase Headley, with the connection to the front office, and with the possibility of a buy-low opportunity, makes some sense. Even in a down year, Headley still managed to post a .316 wOBA and 103 wRC+ while playing stellar defense at third base, making him a 4.4 WAR player between the Padres and Yankees, according to FanGraphs. Maybe he wouldn’t be much of a buy-low after all.
Maybe you argue that the Cubs should get involved in the Pablo Sandoval sweepstakes, given that he’s one of the top bats on the market. Bruce Levine does just that, and suggests the Cubs should give Sandoval a look.
When I look, I see a bat trending in the wrong direction, and a guy whose frame doesn’t scream “sign me well into my 30s.” Being that Sandoval is just 28, however, I think he’s going to get a really significant contract. I don’t see a fit with the Cubs, particularly given the more attractive ways they can spread their money around.
I can make an argument that a two or three-year deal for someone at third base might make some sense, but I can’t argue for the four or five-year deals guys like Headley and Sandoval are going to get – at least not with some trades already in place, and I don’t want to go too far down that road of speculation.
This front office is dexterous, and will leave some options open, to be sure. But, for now, the best path appears to be: keep all of the in-house offensive talent, spend the bulk of the available dollars on a top-end pitcher and a second tier pitcher, and spread the rest around complementary offensive pieces (unless the perfect opportunity arises) and maybe a lefty for the pen.
If the Cubs do decide to spend a little cash on the offensive side, looking for a regular starter, it still seems like outfield or catcher (Russell Martin?) are more likely avenues.