After Addressing Rotation, Cubs Should Target Hitting

As signaled by the Jon Lester signing, the Cubs rebuild has come to a point where adding impact talent to the big league roster is the main goal. The front office did a great job bringing in an ace with a cash-only deal; no pick was associated with his signing and no prospects had to change hands.

With the excitement of bringing Lester aboard comes the expectation that — though he has been signed for 6 (possibly 7 with the option) years — the time to win is coming soon. The first 3 or 4 years of his deal are probably going to be his most dominant and productive, and the Cubs know they need to take advantage of that

Jed Hoyer categorized the Cubs’ winter as being in the “4th or 5th inning,” meaning there is still a great deal of work to do and Job One will be to add some more talent to the roster in the form of an impact bat or two.

The most likely place to do this would be in the OF, where there are some pretty big question marks in center and left. I know some will say that Arismendy Alcantara did enough to deserve the everyday job in center, but I think the most value he can provide to the team is as a super utility guy or even perhaps as part of a deal that brings a big bat in return.

With that in mind, who are some possible targets?


  • Jonny Gomes
    • Great leader with declining bat
    • Slashed .234/.327/.330 with 6 HRs and 37 RBI
    • 10.9% BB rate, 27.4% K rate
    • Provided -0.3 WAR
    • Enters season at 34 years old
  • David Ross
    • Another great leader and good friend of Jon Lester
    • Would allow Cubs to move Welington Castillo
    • Not going to provide much offensively
    • Produced a triple-slash of .184/.260/.368
    • Provides slightly above-average defense
  • Ben Revere
    • Could be acquired from Phillies for Travis Wood
    • Provides youth and speed (49 SBs in 2014) but little else
    • Hardly walks (2.1%), but doesn’t strike out much either (7.8%)
    • Has bat of a CF, but better in RF

Realistic…but not likely

  • Chase Headley
    • Once rumored (probably mistakenly) to have offer from Cubs
    • Value is mostly on defense, but did well when traded to Yankees from Padres
    • 9.6% BB rate, 23% K-Rate
    • Hit 13 HRs and produced 4.4 WAR
    • Would push Kris Bryant to OF
  • Justin Upton
    • Probably biggest obtainable bat
    • Will play most of the season as just a 27 year old
    • Slashed .270/.342/.491 with 29 HRs and 102 RBI
    • ISO (isolated power) of .221, just behind Rizzo’s .241
    •  wOBA of .363 and wRC+ of 133, 3.9 WAR
    • Cost will be high even if he is just a one-year rental
  • Carlos Gonzalez
    • One of the best bats in the league when healthy
    • He is NEVER healthy; only appeared in more than 135 games once in his career (145 in 2010)
    • Relatively young at just 29 years old
    • Hit .302/.367/.591 with 26 HRs and 70 RBI in just 110 games in 2013
    • Limited to just 70 games in 2014
    • Seriously, this guy is always hurt
    • WAR dropped from 4.7 in 2013 to -0.3 in 2014
    • Cost to acquire him still high because when healthy, he is an animal

Pies in the Sky (highly unlikely to happen, but damn, it would be cool)

  • Evan Longoria
    • It was said at the Winter Meetings that he was available
    • Produced .253/.320/.404 with 22 HRs and 91 RBI in “down” year
    • Decent defense at 3B, though last year was his worst to date (-0.6 UZR/150)
    • Great leadership qualities, extensive history with Joe Maddon
    • Very team friendly deal through 2016
    • Would cost probably Russell, Baez, Edwards or Johnson +, +
  • Alex Gordon
    • Has been mentioned that he may be available for right price
    • Had an all around great season
      • Offensively: .266/.351/.432; wOBA of .346
      • Defensively: 22.6 UZR/150 in LF and won the Platinum Glove (best overall defender in the AL)
    • Signed through 2015 with player option of $12.5 million for 2016
    • Provides LH pop, great D, leadership and postseason success
    • Essentially a one-year rental due to option

I for one hope the Cubs don’t end up with just Jonny Gomes and David Ross; they both seem like great guys, but not pieces that would push the team to new heights. Now that the Cubs have reeled in their big fish (Lester), it is time to add more to the roster to at least cushion them against the growing pains that the young players will undoubtedly go through this season.

Who do you think the Cubs should go after? Should they just hope for growth from Alcantara, Baez, and Soler with Bryant coming up in relatively short order? What would you be willing to give up to acquire that “big bat?” Throw your thoughts out there in the comment section.

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