Cubs make early Offseason roster moves
The World Series is over, which means the baseball offseason has officially begun. The offseason is off to a HOT start as teams had to finalize their option year players by Friday as well as extended qualifying offers to those that qualified. Let’s break down what the Cubs did over the last few days.
Six Cubs officially became free agents after the World Series ended. Pitchers Jaime Garcia, Jesse Chavez, Jorge DeLaRosa and Justin Wilson, along with catcher Bobby Wilson and second baseman Daniel Murphy. This is a very intriguing group of free agents as the Cubs could try to bring back a few of these guys. I think it’s safe to say that Bobby Wilson and Jamie Garcia likely won’t be back. There’s a small chance that Garcia returns on a minor league deal during spring training if nobody else has signed him but there likely will be a taker somewhere. That leaves for guys left.
The guy that I think the Cubs would most likely bring back is Jesse Chavez. Chavez was nothing short of brilliant as Cub. In 32 appearances, Chavez was 2–1 with a microscopic 1.15 ERA in 39 innings pitched. Chavez walked just five and struck out 42. Those are fantastic numbers for a 35 year old and he’s the type of guy any team would want in there bullpen. He can go out and get one batter or he can pitched multiple innings. It’s hard to say what time of contract a guy like Chavez might be seeking but I am sure the Cubs will explore bringing him back.
Jorge DeLa Rosa was another mid-season acquisition that that impressed. In 17 appearances, De LeRosa had a no decisions with a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings pitched. He walked just 8 and struck out 20. At 37, DeLaRosa is another guy that can start or relieve, making him valuable to any staff. He seems a little less likely to come back then Chavez, but would likely be cheaper than Chavez.
The last pitcher is Justin Wilson. In his first full year as a Cubs, Wilson was 4–5 with a 3.46 ERA in 71 appearances. Wilson’s biggest issue was walks. He issued 33 passes in 54.2 innings pitched, which is 5.4 walks per 9 innings. He struggled in the second half and seemed to be best in roles in which he would come in to just get one or two left-handed batters out. At 31, Wilson is easily replaceable for much cheaper than what he will get in the offseason. He sported just a 0.7 WAR this season according to Baseball Reference.
Lastly, is Daniel Murphy. Murphy was a spark plug when he first joined the Cubs. The Cubs rolled off seven straight wins before the offseason shut down. In 35 games, Murphy slashed .297/.329/.471 mostly from the leadoff spot. Solid numbers, but most teams would want a guy with a higher OBP in the leadoff spot. His walk rate when down and his strike out rate when up. He hit 6 home runs and drove in 13. He likely won’t return, but if the asking price is affordable, the Cubs may be able to find a way to bring him back.
The next slew of roster moves was for players who had option years. The Cubs picked up the options on LHP Jose Quintana ($10.5 million), RHP Pedro Strop ($6.5 million) and LHP Cole Hamels ($20 million). Additionally, the Cubs declined RHP Brandon Kintzler’s $10 million option, but he exercised his $5 million option. The first three guys were all integral parts of the Cubs pitching staff in 2018 and will be for 2019 as well. Strop arguably had his best year as a Cubs while Cole Hamels looked a lot more like the pitcher who tossed a no-no against the Cubs back in 2015. Kintzler wasn’t impressive with an ERA of near 7 but at $5 million he’s relatively cheap. He’s had success in the past so Cubs will bank on a rebound.
Cubs also claimed a few guys off waivers, OF Jerry Vasto, RF, Johnny Field, and SS Jack Reinheimer. None of these seem to be noteworthy pick-ups that acquire much attention at this point. We will see if they stick around. SS Mike Freeman and CF Terrance Gore were optioned off the 40-man, which currently stands at 39.
In order to clear some salary space for Hamels, the Cubs traded Drew Smyly to the Rangers for a player to be named later. Smyly spent 2017 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but with Cole Hamels in the mix, he likely was no longer a part of the 2019 Cubs plans.
This is only the beginning of sure is to be a very fun offseason on the North Side as the Cubs look to put together a championship roster for a run at the 2019 World Series. We will continue to have updates all off-season.