Cubs Want to Spend This Offseason

We’ve all heard the narrative by now from Theo Epstein regarding the upcoming off-season for his Cubs.

Pitching pitching, pitching.

“We need impact starting pitching,” Epstein said. “If you can add a top-of-the-rotation starter to what we have with (Jake) Arrieta, et al, it becomes really, really interesting in a hurry. We also could use just another quality, stable arm to go with it. So in an ideal world, we’d add two starting pitchers.”

As luck would have it, there will be impact arms available out there on the free agent market. All the Cubs need to get one is money. They have some too, left over from the Masahiro Tanaka failed bid and some bad paper finally coming off the books.

There is little secret that the Cubs will make Jon Lester their number one target this winter. The match makes sense on so many levels. The Cubs could plug Lester in atop the rotation while simultaneously filling the void of veteran leaders they also seek to remedy this winter.

I’ve even heard some speculate the pairing of Lester and the Cubs is a fait accompli of sorts, due to the connection between the pitcher and this front office.

Don’t believe that hype. Lester is very interested in the North Side of Chicago, but he is also very interested in exploring the seller’s market. It is far from a slam dunk.

Make no mistake: it will be a sellers market. Lester will be going for anywhere from 5 to 6 years and possibly north of $130 million. When you add the Yankees to the mix, the bidding can get stupid in a hurry. If the Lester thing gets too steep for the Cubs, look for them to possibly shift gears towards last night’s World Series Game One starter, James Shields. Shields, 33, maybe a little more on the wrong side of 30, but he has shown durability throughout his career.

Epstein says the Cubs don’t have to “sell out” for 2015, and it makes sense. The Cubs will likely be in better position to pounce in 2016.

“That’s a process we’d like to start this winter. And certainly over the next 15 months, I’m very confident that we’ll add impact pitching from outside the organization. It has a chance to happen this winter. But we’re not going to make any guarantees.”

Is the 15 month window he keeps mentioning a little hedging toward next year’s market that could include David Price and Jordan Zimmerman?

No, from what I’m told, the Cubs want to spend money this off-season; they have some resources burning a hole in their pocket. Like my wife on the Amazon iPad app, they are ready to spend now.

The Cubs know what the market will be like this winter and they know it is going to cost crazy amounts of money. They know they can’t go to the free-agent park without getting their pants a little dirty and they are ready to get on the monkey bars.

Now, the Cubs would prefer not to overpay a 30-plus-year-old arm, but realize that is the current reality of the market. They would love nothing more than to showcase a new (ace) toy on their other new toy (jumbotron) come opening day.

“Our farm system has more impact position players than it does with respect to pitching,” Epstein says.

If the free agent market doesn’t work out, they may have to consider moving some of those bats at some point. But for now they’d rather spend currency in the form of dollars than players.

In the words of R. Kelly, “Spend That,” Theo.

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