Fresh on the heels of a number of rumors suggesting Adam Dunn will be out of the Chicago Cubs’ price range this winter, together with the bargain suggestions of Adam LaRoche and Nick Johnson, we get a new batch of names from the second tier of free agency – recent World Series hero/panty-wearer Aubrey Huff, and catcher-cum first baseman Victor Martinez.
Whether the Cubs can accommodate Dunn’s salary is another question, and there are concerns about his defense. Aubrey Huff might be a better alternative, though Huff might re-sign with the World Series champion Giants, for whom he became a team leader in his first season. Switch hitter Victor Martinez, a veteran catcher who also plays first, is another possibility.
The Cubs might need to trade Kosuke Fukudome before making an offer for any prominent free agent, though it will be difficult to find a trade partner without taking another overpaid player in return. Hendry did that with Milton Bradley last offseason, paving the way for the signing of center fielder Marlon Byrd. chicagotribune.com.
Huff, who will be 34 next year, is coming off an excellent season after a disastrous 2009; in fact, 2010 may be Huff’s second best season of his career. He hit .290/.385/.506 in a pitcher-friendly park, and will probably try his damnedest to get a multi-year deal. If he requires more than one year, it’s hard to see the Cubs landing him – the Cubs would probably prefer to overpay for one year than lock into a long-term deal with another aging vet.
Victor Martinez was an offensive asset when he was playing behind the plate and was about five years younger. I exaggerate, of course (he hit .302/.351/.493 last year), but his bat certainly doesn’t play as well at first as it did at catcher. Still, on a short-term deal, the soon-to-be 32 year old could be an effective stop-gap for the Cubs. If nothing else, it’s good to know that there are a number of options out there for the Cubs.