At the conclusion of the 2014-2015 offseason, there were a lot of questions up for debate. For example: How good can the Cubs be? Will the rookies make an immediate impact? Can Jake Arrieta match his excellent 2014 season? Did the Cubs go after the right players in free agency?*
At the time, the Cubs had signed all of Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, David Ross, Jason Motte, Tsuyoshi Wada and Chris Denorfia, but, like many free agents, each came with very real questions. However, one thing that was never questioned was the Cubs desire AND ability to spend in free agency. That was a fun change of pace from offseasons past.
Those six free agents alone accounted for $191 million in future commitments, a figure that was third highest for the offseason, behind just the Nationals and the Red Sox (and the Cubs also traded for Miguel Montero’s ample contract).
The Cubs ownership and front office promised they would spend when the time was right, and they followed through with aplomb. It was a good offseason.
Well after pinning blue stripes on Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey and Trevor Cahill, the Cubs, so far, have done it again:
Updated free-agent commitments this off-season: CHC: $276.25M, DET $272.25M, SF $251M, BOS $230M, BAL $214.8M, AZ $206.5M, KC $178.5M/
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 19, 2016
With the total free-agent commitments for the 2015-2016 offseason tallied up, the Cubs are right back near the top for the second year in a row. In fact, their $276.25 million in future free agent commitments is the most in baseball, ahead of the Tigers, Giants, Red Sox, Orioles, Diamondbacks and Royals.
Here are the four free agents the Cubs signed and their contract amounts, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts:
Jason Heyward – 8 years/$184 million
Ben Zobrist – 4 years/$56 million
Jon Lackey – 2 years/$32 million
Trevor Cahill – 1 year/$4.25 million
For example, I’m aware that John Lackey wasn’t the expected top pitching target this offseason, but after the market has set itself, is there any question that his two-year, $32 million deal doesn’t present a significant advantage over the other starting pitcher guarantees?
Each one of the Cubs’ four free agent signings presents a similar story, and I wouldn’t trade the Cubs’ offseason to date for any other team’s. It continues to be an exciting time to be a Cubs fan. The team is good, ownership is willing to spend … a lot … and free agents are willing to take less to play on the Northside.
*(Very, Yes, Yes, and Yes.)