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wrigley marquee featureOver at MLB Trade Rumors, Tim Dierkes has posted his ranking of the top 50 free agents, along with predictions as to where those free agents might wind up. Dierkes cautions that he’s viewing each free agent individually, so there might be overlaps that you wouldn’t actually see play out in reality (example: team signing three legit starting pitchers when they’re in the market for just two).

That’s probably an important caution, because Dierkes has the Cubs going hog wild in free agency, and signing:

Jon Lester
Jake Peavy
Justin Masterson
David Robertson
Russell Martin

That’s five of the top 26 free agents on Dierkes’ list, and also four of the top eighteen. That’s not actually going to happen.

Further, Dierkes connects the Cubs as possibilities for Max Scherzer, Melky Cabrera, Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, Colby Rasmus, Luke Gregerson, and Sergio Romo. The real point here is not the specific names listed, it’s the prevalence of the Cubs: people in the industry are expecting the Cubs to be active.

Is that really a surprise, though? With significant financial flexibility, with a young roster turning the corner, and now with a rock star manager in place, the bones are there for contention – and the impetus to spend in free agency, as well. Whether it plays out that way or not, the Cubs are going to be connected to most major rumors this offseason, both in signings and trade. I will do my best, and I’ll urge you to do the same, to resist the temptation to depart from what we know to be the philosophy of the front office, and what we know to be the spending trajectory. That is to say: (1) the front office is not going to sell out for 2015, and (2) the Cubs aren’t going to spend 75+ million in 2015 free agent dollars this offseason.

That said, some major moves could be on the way, and I do see each of the names Dierkes projects as realistic options for the Cubs with the exception of Robertson. The 29-year-old reliever is silly good and every team would be better with him, but it’s hard to see the Cubs giving a 29-year-old power righty reliever a $40 million contract. If Andrew Miller doesn’t really fit for the Cubs, then Robertson definitely doesn’t. Maybe if his market collapses because of the qualifying offer, and maybe if he’s unsigned come late January, and maybe if the Cubs have already signed a qualified free agent or two (and thus the draft pick loss for Robertson would be a mere third or fourth rounder). But it’s an extreme stretch.

To take Dierkes’ predictions, though, minus Robertson: If the Cubs did get Lester, Peavy OR Masterson, and Martin? Plus a complementary outfield piece (or one of the many one-year guys in trade we’ve discussed?) and maybe a lefty reliever? That’d be a heck of a good offseason, yes? In years past, that would have sounded crazy. Now it’s actually fairly realistic.

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