The Chicago Cubs have some franchise shifting decisions they need to make this offseason: rebuild and retool, or push all in this season.
Their young core of stars are quickly approaching free agent eligibility, and the team is staring at some tough decisions.
Already, the team made the move to non-tender OFs Kyle Schwarber and Albert Amora Jr., making them free agents.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 3, 2020
Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are also slated to become free agents after the 2021 season.
With each of their profiles, the Cubs likely wouldn’t be able to sign both without devoting a large chunk of budget.
1B Anthony Rizzo is in a year-to-year situation with free agency as well.
On top of this, the team has some holes in their roster that need to be filled.
The team has underperformed since winning the World Series in 2016.
Now, they have some moves that they will need to make to get back over the hump in 2021.
Addressing The Cubs Outfield
As it stands now, the Cubs only have two true outfielders on their roster: Jason Heyward and Ian Happ.
The team will likely add some additional outfield pieces either through trades or free agency.
Some more cost-efficient options they could look at include Eddie Rosario, Nomar Mazara or Kevin Pillar.
Eddie Rosario hits the walk-off home run for the Twins…
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 3, 2018
They would be able to come into Chicago and fill up some outfield depth while giving the team some added production.
The Cubs also have some good outfield prospects coming up through their system.
Brennan Davis ranks second among the team’s top prospects, but he has an MLB ETA of 2022.
Cole Roederer is another option from within the team’s farm system, but he also has a 2022 ETA.
With this, the team is going to have to make an addition to the outfield to make it competitive next season.
Adding Pitching Help
Another area the Cubs need to make some moves in is with their pitching.
Between Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish, the team has two pitchers that have shown the ability to be dominant.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 10, 2020
However, beyond them, the rotation is very weak.
The Cubs may have some reservations about making a move for a pitcher in free agency after their signing of Jose Quintana went awry.
It has also been rumored that the Cubs may move on from LHP Jon Lester, who is a free agent this offseason.
If this happens, the team will absolutely need to make some moves.
Some options that may be more cost efficient on the market would be James Paxton, Julio Tehran or Corey Kluber.
Potential Cubs Trades
If they wanted, the franchise could make some major waves on the trade market.
The most notable name that could be moved is Kris Bryant, who has been floated on the trade market for the past year.
They could use the leverage of a Bryant trade to add a piece for their rotation.
Another trade chip that many expect to be in play is catcher Wilson Contreras.
Let’s not forget what damage Wilson Contreras (@WContreras40) can do in this @Cubs lineup. Remember that stretch in August of 2017 when Contreras was literally unstoppable? That was fun. Looking for a huge year from Willson in 2019. pic.twitter.com/BK8cKsRInO
— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) January 28, 2019
Contreras has two more years of team control, which could net the Cubs a big return on the trade market.
Some have suggested a potential trade with the Yankees surrounding Contreras, where the Cubs could potentially net RHP Deivi Garcia.
However, if the team didn’t get the best possible package, they would likely be content with staying put.
Either way, the team will have to make some moves this offseason if they hope to remain competitive in the NL Central in 2021.