Spring Training has arrived, officially, but the offseason transaction market is still ongoing. Notable free agents like Dexter Fowler, Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Austin Jackson remain unsigned, and it still feels like there are the underpinnings in place for a few big trades around the game.
Will the Cubs be involved in any of that, though?
We’ve talked the Fowler thing – and the extreme unlikeliness of it – to death, so I won’t even go there. Generally, I do think there’s a fit on the Cubs for a defensively-inclined outfielder, but it’s not necessarily a strict necessity at this point. With Matt Szczur on the roster, with four regular outfielders already in place (even if there’s not a natural center fielder among them), and with Javy Baez learning the outfield, the Cubs will probably be OK.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said that the front office is still monitoring the free agent market (ESPN, Sun-Times), and Jesse Rogers suggests that could mean bringing in the aforementioned defensively-inclined outfielder.
Rogers mentions Austin Jackson, specifically, whose possible return to the Cubs we’ve discussed before. Although that seems like a dream scenario – imagine five outfielders on the roster including Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, Chris Coghlan, and Austin Jackson (mercy!) – the latest rumors have Jackson connected to teams looking for a more regular outfielder, like the Indians, White Sox, Brewers, and Rangers (Jon Heyman).
So, then, in the end, the crew the Cubs have now is likely to be the crew when the season opens – which, of course, is a fantastic crew. But the front office will keep doing their due diligence.