Next in our Offseason In Review series, the Cubs.
Major League Signings
- Marlon Byrd, CF: three years, $15MM.
- John Grabow, RP: two years, $7.5MM.
- Xavier Nady, OF/1B: one year, $3.3MM.
- Total spend: $25.8MM.
Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims
- Acquired 1B Ryne White and P Scott Maine from Diamondbacks for RP Aaron Heilman
- Acquired RP Jeff Gray, P Ronny Morla, and OF Matt Spencer from Athletics for OF Jake Fox, IF Aaron Miles, and $1MM
- Acquired Rule 5 pick P Mike Parisi from Cardinals
- Acquired P Carlos Silva and $9MM from Mariners for OF Milton Bradley
- Milton Bradley, Aaron Miles, Jake Fox, Aaron Heilman, Reed Johnson, Rich Harden, Kevin Gregg, Neal Cotts
The Cubs were handicapped this offseason by their need to unload outfielder Milton Bradley, a deal that went down on December 18th. The Cubs had little leverage with Bradley, as it was well-known they were dead-set on trading him. GM Jim Hendry had to take back a terrible pitcher on one of baseball's worst contracts, but he managed to save $5MM in acquiring Silva and cash from the Mariners. The whole mess reflects poorly on the Cubs, with Hendry making this dubious claim about Bradley: "No one could have really predicted how it turned out." The toxic clubhouse situation with Bradley forced the Cubs to subtract a .378 OBP in exchange for a two-year, $16MM commitment to Silva.
The Cubs then took the often-regrettable route of signing the best available free agent to fit their need, choosing Byrd out of a weak free agent center field market. Will the Cubs be happy paying a 34-year-old Byrd $6.5MM in 2012? They have to hope this is another Mark DeRosa signing: a contract that looked high at the time but paid off because DeRosa kept getting better.
The Grabow signing was painful. If that's the going rate for a southpaw reliever with control problems, find another solution. On the other hand I liked the Nady pickup. He should be one of the game's better reserves, and will be used heavily.
The success of the Cubs' rotation may hinge on Ted Lilly's health and Randy Wells' sophomore campaign. A midseason acquisition may be necessary. Same goes for the bullpen, where the big additions were Grabow and Gray. Angel Guzman's shoulder injury is a major blow, though not an unpredictable one given his injury history.
The Cubs enter their first season under new ownership with an array of bloated contracts and question marks, plus key players unsigned beyond 2010. This might be Hendry's last chance to get it right.