Because of the way the Cubs’ offseason played out (we knew there wouldn’t be a ton of spending, we knew there were very specific slots from a very specific tier of free agency that were going to get filled and then that was that), I didn’t pay as much attention to the big picture, back-end-of-free-agency conversation as I normally would. Once the Cubs made their decisions, I kinda transitioned fully into “season mode.”
I think for whatever reason that may have been the case for a lot of fans this year all around baseball, because it wasn’t until this Jon Heyman tweet this evening that it even got back out there into the discourse that, yeah, there are still a lot of unsigned “name” players:
Some better players still unsigned: Yoenis Cespedes, Edwin Encarnacion, David Robertson, Yasiel Puig, Shane Greene, Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Addison Russell, Anibal Sanchez, Jeremy Jeffress, Felix Hernandez, Josh Reddick, Jedd Gyorko, Brad Peacock, Scooter Gennett, Matt Kemp.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 9, 2021
You can add in Matt Wieters, Tyler Flowers, Zach Godley, Rick Porcello, Cole Hamels, and AJ Ramos as guys who’ve either had recent success or who fall into that category of types you would’ve expected to get a shot somewhere in Spring Training.
To be fair, a lot of these guys would not find themselves signed in normal times. Sometimes, there just isn’t a job at your age/skill level. And further, some of these guys very well may have had minor league opportunities that they didn’t want, and would prefer retirement instead if it comes to that. Oh, also? The lack of a DH in the NL clearly was an issue for some of these guys.
But I’m a little surprised that guys like Greene, Samardzija, Jeffress, Gyorko, Porcello, and Flowers don’t have jobs right now. There could be some idiosyncratic reasons (like the unusual circumstances with Jeffress), but on paper, all look like guys who should’ve signed, and probably should’ve had big league deals even.
Perhaps opportunities will open up as the season goes on, and injuries accumulate (maybe even more than usual because of the 2020 season). I don’t necessarily expect the Cubs to be in on any of these guys, even if they did suffer a spate of injuries. I’m thinking the budget is mostly all used up, and I’m further thinking that if there were a bunch of injuries that tanked the Cubs’ performance, they would go in a very different direction come June and July. Like the subtracting direction, not the adding direction.