Although the Chicago Cubs are looking for more talent from their farm system, there are still good names available in the free agent market that could be useful for the Chicago Cubs to put together a winning team next season. With a couple of signatures from these players, the Cubs could improve their depth and have a good shot to become real competitors in the MLB. Here is my list of the top 5 free agents still available that the Cubs could sign to prove they can make a push for the postseason in 2014.
1. Masahiro Tanaka, SP
Tanaka has already showed he can pitch in Japan, and that his numbers are unmatched when it comes to winning percentage (73% in career, 100% last season in Nippon league) and earned run average(2.30) in a career. With the Cubs’ rotation faltering as leading starters Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija haven’t really showed they’re ace pitchers, Tanaka might be the pitcher to change that and bring the Cubs some deep innings for the next few years.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
With the trading of outfielders like David Dejesus and Alfonso Soriano last season, the Cubs aren’t really the top team when it comes to outfield depth, relying heavily on rookies next year with faces like Junior Lake, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler. Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury might be the man to add some much needed speed and average to the team’s weak center field position, not to mention a former gold glove winner who certainly knows how to make some flashy moves in the outfield.
3. Kurt Suzuki, C
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to add some veterans to back up young catcher Wellington Castillo behind the plate, and a hard hitting veteran like Kurt Suzuki might be the one to do it. Not Only can Kurt handle himself defensively behind the plate, but he also can hit when needed, knocking in 32 RBIs and 5 HR in a limited role for the Oakland A’s last season. He could be the mentor that Castillo needs to improve his arm behind home plate in order to become the Cubs’ full time catcher.
4. Zach Duke, RP
Duke may not be the biggest name in the market this offseason, but he could be an important factor in the bullpen if the Cubs give him a chance. Duke was a key call up for the Reds last season, pitching 31.1 relief innings for Cincinnati to help them out toward the end of the regular season. The Cubs don’t have many lefties in the bullpen, as James Russell is the only effective southpaw to emerge from the Cubs’ pen in the last few seasons. With the addition of Duke next year, the Cubs could get an affordable and reliable lefty to get them out of a few late-inning jamsr.
5. Placido Polanco, 3B
With young star Kris Bryant coming up as a possible new starter for next season, it also pays to look at who could be his mentor for next season, while also helping the Cubs’ batting average get the bump up it needs. Polanco may be pushing 40, but he still averaged .260 with the Miami Marlins lat season and is a three time gold glove winner, making his defensive play even a stronger assets to this Cubs team that has been lacking talent at the hot corner the last few years.
With Polanco, the Cubs also gain a good utility man in case Bryant, Darwin Barney or Starlin Castro run into some misfortune next year. He would be a solid backup and a more cost-effective option in the infield, rather then buying big with Kevin Youkilis or Robinson Cano.
Even though these aren’t the biggest names in the free agent market this offseason, they can still make some surprises next year and be key contributors in a team that seems to be getting their act together and getting the help they need to be competitive again. If you disagree with my options here, feel free to comment and make your voice heard on who needs to be on the Cubs next year and why.
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