Yesterday, we discussed a Buster Olney report that confirmed the logical: the Chicago Cubs are looking to add another outfielder who can play center field. It makes sense that the Cubs would want to add an outfielder, given the question marks at every position – all of Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, and Chris Coghlorfia have the potential to be very good, but also have the potential to be ineffective (or injured). Further, the Cubs’ outfield bench options – Ryan Sweeney, Junior Lake, Mike Olt (IF/OF), Matt Szczur – come with plenty of questions, as well.
So, yes, looking to add an outfield bat makes plenty of sense.
But what was slightly unclear was whether the Cubs wanted to add a mere complementary type, or an every game starter. The failed pursuit of Ben Zobrist suggested the latter, and a helpful Ken Rosenthal report confirms.
Update from source on #Cubs’ search for an OFer: Team not looking for another bench player. Would be regular in LF or CF – if it happens.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 14, 2015
For those of you hoping the Cubs make a serious run at the playoffs in 2015, that should be music to your ears. As presently constructed, the Cubs’ roster could certainly make it happen – there is so much youthful upside on this club – but it’s impossible to look the lineup up and down and not wish there was another bat. That could come in the form of a lefty power bat in the middle of the order, or a top-of-the-order hitter. In either case, the most logical place to add is in the outfield.
Is there any relationship at all between Rosenthal’s report and the timing of the Evan Gattis trade, which may have made Dexter Fowler all the more expendable? He certainly checks a number of boxes, and the Cubs would seem to have the pieces to get him without crippling the future. (The Astros, though, would probably not be interested in the Cubs’ most obviously tradable piece, Welington Castillo. They are loaded with catchers. It’s more debatable whether they’d want a back-end starter like Travis Wood, whose flyball tendencies might not play well at Minute Maid. In any case, I think it’s fair to assume that if the Cubs were serious about landing Fowler, they have sufficient assets to make a run at it.)
None of this is to say that the Cubs absolutely will get another outfield bat (nor is it to say Fowler is the only option out there, as we discussed yesterday). The nature of trades is such that you can’t predict anything will happen, but it’s nice to hear that the Cubs are working on it.
Should the Cubs manage to add a regular who can play in left and center, they’ll then have the option of rotating Alcantara, Coghlan, and Denorfia in order to maximize their effectiveness (and could also utilize Alcantara in a utility role). In other words, adding a quality regular not only improves the Cubs at whatever position is implicated, but it also adds to the versatility of the roster as a whole.