Do the Cubs Need to Add Another Position Player? Wrigley Work, Pirates Pen, META, and Other Bullets

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Do the Cubs Need to Add Another Position Player? Wrigley Work, Pirates Pen, META, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The kiddos have school cancelled today, so it’s a very full Taylor House for the second straight “week day.” I hope you’re ready for me, Panera, because I will be working there for 16 hours.

  • If you missed it last night in the Lukewarm Stove, since it happened two minutes after that post published, and I thus quickly updated, Curtis Granderson signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Blue Jays. The 36-year-old Chicago native felt like a good fit for the Cubs (veteran leader with a good bat who can play all over the outfield), but it’s not surprising to see the Cubs eschew adding another $5 million in AAV to their 2018 payroll, especially not with starting pitchers still available to sign. I wonder if we’ll see the Cubs re-engage Jon Jay – yes, still a free agent – about coming back if they can do so in coordination with their pitcher signing. Having that extra outfielder is not absolutely necessary, but Jay is a good player and a good fit on the right deal.
  • If the Cubs do not add an extra outfielder – at this point, outside of Jay, you’d probably only see a guy coming in on a minor league deal and a chance to compete in Spring Training – the position player group lines up like this for a probable 25-man roster:

Willson Contreras
Victor Caratini
Anthony Rizzo
Javy Baez
Ben Zobrist
Addison Russell
Kris Bryant
Kyle Schwarber
Ian Happ
Albert Almora, Jr.
Jason Heyward
Tommy La Stella

  • That’s 12 players, and would allow the Cubs to carry eight in the bullpen out of the gate, which they’ve clearly preferred to do in the Joe Maddon years. Because the Cubs have so much versatility in those 12 players, they can go three deep at almost every position despite having just four guys on the bench. So, it all fits fine and dandy as is … unless there’s an injury in the Spring. The only other positional guys on the 40-man roster right now are outfielder Mark Zagunis and utility man David Bote. You sure would love to see the Cubs able to bring in a quality veteran or two on minor league deals, affording the Cubs the flexibility of having them available in March juuuuuuust in case.
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
  • (This is setting aside the separate discussion about adding a veteran back-up catcher, since he would simply displace Caratini – it doesn’t have any roster-construction consequences.)
  • You could read this a couple ways from the Pirates’ GM:

  • The projections were already going to have the Pirates as a long-shot to make the playoffs, so, in that respect, it’s quite right that dealing those guys did not dramatically impact their World Series potential. But is the point also fair the other way? Are the Pirates just as good in 2018 after those trades? Almost certainly not, as you’re talking about – conservatively – four to five wins traded away, and the net return was – realistically – about two to three wins.
  • I will give one bit of credit from these trades, though, and it’s the potential for the Pirates to return to having one of those quietly dominant bullpens that they seemed to have every single year until 2017. Consider that the Pirates might have one of the best closers in the game in Felipe Rivero, and they’ve added two young guys with a ton of upside in these trades in Michael Feliz and Kyle Crick. From there, A.J. Schugel, George Kontos, and Daniel Hudson could be solid, with the potential to be very good, and the addition of Joe Musgrove – even if he’s in the rotation – could push another quality arm into the bullpen. I’m not saying it’s a lock that it’ll be a good unit, but the pieces are there, with a ton of depth.
  • And to be sure, the Pirates are not a team that suddenly looks like hot garbage after these trades. They have solid, young pieces all over, and if the young pitchers step up? If Austin Meadows is ready to take over in the outfield and fulfills his potential? The Pirates could be surprisingly OK in 2018, even as it’s pretty clear they’re eyeing a real return to competitiveness in 2019.
  • Work continues inside Wrigley Field, with the home opener 83 days away:

  • Because of the way bonuses are calculated in Mexico for IFA purposes (in short, because a big chunk of the bonus goes to the local team, it doesn’t all count against the MLB team’s IFA bonus pool), the Cubs have been heavy in Mexico for the last three years, and it sounds like it’s going to stay that way (Tribune). Without the ability to just outspend other teams on bonuses anymore, the only way to consistently outperform on the international scene these days is to dominate in the scouting, signing, and development portion – find the right guys, make sure you get them signed, and make sure you develop them well. I love the idea that the Cubs found a market that was not being covered as well as some others, and got in early to dominate it. Among the names you might recognize from the Cubs’ efforts: Jose Albertos (one of the organization’s top pitching prospects) and Isaac Paredes (dealt in the Justin Wilson, Alex Avila trade), among others.
  • MBD is busting out some of his great shots from the Cubs Convention, so make sure you check out his feed:

  • The best travel backpack ever is still on a huge sale at Amazon (62% off, $49.99), and the Cubs stuff Fanatics flipped to clearance is still on clearance today, so that’s good!
  • A trio of META things for you to consider, please and thanks:
    • By far the most important one is if you’re someone who is still seeing the home page without new posts showing up, clear your browser cache completely (at least to before December 29), and then you should see the fix in place.
    • Facebook has made a change to its News Feed that will probably show you BN posts less frequently (in favor of more stuff from your family and friends, which, hey, that’s cool by me). If you’re wishing you were seeing them MORE frequently, you can do what I’ve done with my favorite pages (TechCrunch and Cut4 being two of them) – you can set Facebook to show you BN’s posts first in your feed. Details here, but the gist is: on desktop, just click on the “following” button on BN’s page and change to “See First.” On the mobile app, you just go into your Settings –> News Feed Preferences –> Prioritize who to see first.
    • Lastly, we have an Instagram account. In theory, we’ll be doing quite a bit more with it this year, so if you want to see some good Cubs pictures from time to time while you’re flicking around on there, give us a follow:


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.