With Winter Meetings in rearview, what’s next for Cubs?
SAN DIEGO — The buzz and excitement at the Manchester Grand Hyatt is slowing down.
That doesn’t mean the Cubs are closing shop.
“We still have a lot more work to do,” Jed Hoyer said, hours before he boarded a plane to leave sunny San Diego. “The offseason’s far from over.”
The Cubs are set to add Jameson Taillon, a true front-of-the-rotation arm, and Cody Bellinger, a former MVP and Rookie of the Year who can patrol center field at a Gold Glove level and immediately boosts the Cubs roster. The moves created an invigorating atmosphere at this week’s Winter Meetings.
All week, it felt as if the Cubs were mentioned on many free agent rumor, creating a stir for Cubs fans.
“It’s always really important to sign guys you target,” Hoyer said. “Sometimes in free agency, you miss on your targets and you have to move down the list. Those are two guys that we targeted from the beginning. Obviously, Cody once he was non-tendered, it just felt like a great fit for us both in handedness and positionally. And obviously Jameson we targeted.
“It’s nice to land guys that you were really focused on when we got here.”
As exciting as this week’s Winter Meetings were from a rumor and moves standpoint, the Cubs know that there are still plenty of holes on the roster ahead of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in February.
On the wish list: pitching depth (both starting and bullpen), catcher depth and, oh yeah, one of the premier shortstops. Just because the Winter Meetings are over doesn’t mean the offseason is over. That’s especially true for the Cubs.
“There’s a lot of really good free agents still on the market,” Hoyer said. “I think we knew that everyone’s not signing while they’re here. Some deals take more time.”
Like the shortstop market — one that the Cubs are heavily involved in. Dansby Swanson and Carlos Correa are still free agents and the Cubs have been linked to all three at various points this week and this offseason.
Adding one of the three would likely mean moving Nico Hoerner to second base and solidifying the team’s infield defense up the middle. It would no doubt boost the Cubs’ offense and defense, but it’d also add a star power to the team and send a statement of intent to the rest of the division.
The catcher market began to move Wednesday afternoon when the Cardinals reportedly signed Willson Contreras to a 5-year deal. Christian Vázquez and Tucker Barnhart are two veteran free agent backstops the Cubs could pursue to augment Yan Gomes and P.J. Higgins.
“There’s gonna be injuries,” Hoyer said. “You think about your catching depth.”
Hoyer and the Cubs have long understood a team can never have enough pitching and this offseason is no exception. Taillon’s addition boosts the rotation, but they’ll still be in contact with veteran free agents that could benefit their starting pitching depth.
The last few years, the Cubs have shown a knack for adding veteran relievers on short-term deals, helping fine-tune some things and converting them into strong bullpen pieces that can pitch in high-leverage situations and be flipped for prospect capital. The Cubs will look at the reliever market in the same sense, trying to find value in overlooked pitchers that can pitch in high-leverage roles for the Cubs.
The thrill of the Winter Meetings might be over, but Hoyer and his staff are hopeful that there’ll be more moments of optimism and delight in the coming weeks by getting deals across the finish line.