As we know, the Chicago Cubs offseason has been slow this winter, which means fans haven’t exactly got what they wished for this holiday season.
With months still remaining this offseason and one premier talent still on the free agent market that’s been linked to the Cubs, there is still hope the team could make a splash. If not Bryce Harper, then who else could that be?
With Christmas in the rearview mirror, it’s time to talk New Year’s resolutions. Mine? Well, it’s more of a wish, really. I want some semblance of stability or comfort for the Cubs fan base going into next season. Believe it or not, we can attain that – with or without Bryce Harper.
Remember. The Cubs won 95 games in 2018. The Cubs won a majority of those games without a healthy Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish. It took 163 games for the Cubs to lose the NL Central, with months of work coming down to a single game.
The Chicago Cubs are in no position of falling apart anytime soon despite their sour end to the 2018 season. Is there cause for optimism when it comes to this team?
Cubs have a lot working in their favor
What if Bryant leaps back into the National League MVP race in 2019? What if Darvish comes back, makes 30 starts and leads the rotation? What if Brandon Morrow comes back and stays healthy? Right now, with the way this offseason has progressed, it seems the Cubs are banking on their own talent to either bounce back from a poor showing in 2018 and simply take the next step in their development next season.
This front office knows the roster needs some help to keep this team competitive, however. Here at Cubbies Crib, writers have discussed all offseason about bullpen depth and perhaps adding a big arm that could compete against the likes of Josh Hader and now Andrew Miller.
The Cubs have added arms, like Kendall Graveman, but he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, and this deal is similar to Drew Smyly, who the Cubs moved to the Texas Rangers so they could pick up Cole Hamels‘ option and stay under the luxury tax. The Cubs might be able to utilize him late in the 2019 season – but that’s far from a sure thing.
Focusing on bullpen depth
The last two seasons, the Cubs’ starting rotation has struggled out of the gate and has forced the bullpen to work more than it should, which in the end hurt them down the stretch in September. One name out there still is Adam Octovino. Ottavino put together his best season in 2018, pitching 77 2/3 innings (his highest since 2013), finishing with a 2.6 WAR (the highest of his career) and putting together a 2.74 ERA (also a career high). Unfortunately for Cubs fans, he hasn’t been linked to the Cubs in rumors.
David Robertson is another name the Cubs could use. Robertson has compiled 90 or more strikeouts in three of the last four seasons while also pitching 60 or more innings the last eight years. That’s a 11.76 K/9. He is 34 but his consistency has kept his value high over the course of his career.
Luis Avilan is intriguing because he’s a lefty reliever, something the Cubs bullpen lacks with the departure of Justin Wilson.
Avilan has bounced around from Atlanta, Los Angeles, the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia in his career. Now, at 29, he could be a nice low-cost piece for the Cubs. He posted a 10.13 K/9 with a 3.77 ERA in 2018.
If the Cubs don’t get Harper, moves to bolster the bullpen would at least give the fan base some stability or comfortable feeling going into April. The Chicago Cubs can bank on their own talent to keep them competitive in 2019 but they know they need to make bigger transactions to keep pace with the NL Central.