Offseason Outlook: Chicago Cubs

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Cubs.  Their likely 2009 commitments:

C – Geovany Soto – $401K
C – Henry Blanco – $3MM (club option)
1B – Derrek Lee – $13MM
2B – Mark DeRosa – $5.5MM
SS – Ryan Theriot – $428K
3B – Aramis Ramirez – $15.65MM
IF – Ronny Cedeno – $407K+
IF – Mike Fontenot – $405K
LF – Alfonso Soriano – $16MM
CF – Reed Johnson – $1.3MM+
RF – Kosuke Fukudome – $11.5MM
OF – Felix Pie – $402K
OF – Micah Hoffpauir – $400K

SP – Carlos Zambrano – $17.75MM
SP – Rich Harden – $7MM
SP – Ted Lilly – $12MM
SP – Sean Marshall – $400K
SP – Jason Marquis – $9.875MM

RP – Carlos Marmol – $430K
RP – Chad Gaudin – $1.775MM+
RP – Jeff Samardzija – $1.8MM
RP – Neal Cotts – $800K+
RP – Michael Wuertz – $860K+
RP – Angel Guzman – $401K
RP – Kevin Hart – $400K

That’s about $122MM committed, plus arbitration raises to Cedeno, Johnson, Gaudin, Cotts, and Wuertz.  They will still be under $130MM after that.  A bump in payroll is expected – $140MM?  $150MM?

If the Cubs are able to retain GM Jim Hendry, his first order of business will probably be to re-sign Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood before they hit the open market.  Dempster could cost $14MM a year for four years, while Wood could require a salary in the $10MM range.  Not sure about the term.

Even if Dempster’s deal is backloaded, signing both could put the Cubs at $150MM.  It figures that they will still look to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to play right or center field.  That’d be easier to fit in if some of Marquis’ $9.875MM can be moved.  The Cubs can probably spare him despite Harden’s fragility, since Gaudin and Samardzija are also starting candidates.

The free agent market offers Jim Edmonds, Mark Kotsay, Eric Hinske, Ken Griffey Jr., and Bobby Abreu.  Players such as Adam Dunn, Milton Bradley, and Raul Ibanez could enter the picture if the Cubs convince themselves they can handle right field full-time.  Brian Giles would be an ideal fit, if he will waive his no-trade rights.  Jody Gerut, Jeremy Hermida, Coco Crisp, and Randy Winn could also be trade targets.

The Cubs could also look to add that lefty bat to the infield, pushing DeRosa to right.  Maybe Fontenot is that bat.  External options include Rafael Furcal, Brian Roberts, and Orlando Hudson.

I expect the Cubs to re-sign Dempster and Wood and then bring in one lefthanded hitter from the group mentioned above.  This team had it all in 2008: offense, defense, pitching.  The playoff performance was disappointing, but it makes sense to tweak the roster and just try to get back there.

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