Although it remains to be seen at this point, the Chicago Cubs may be preparing to punt another season heading into 2014. One would imagine that it would be the last before they’d identify themselves as competitive and perhaps start throwing around a bit of money. While such a scenario would leave the Cubs to remain relatively quiet this offseason, there are those throughout Major League Baseball that feel the Cubs could strike on at least one of the marquee names on the market.
The more prominent name in connection with the Cubs for much of the winter to this point has been Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, though the posting process has yet to be agreed on, delaying his arrival in the United States. However, others have identified the Cubs as a potential suitor for Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. It does make quite a bit of sense, on multiple levels.
The Cubs currently lack help in the outfield, and that’s putting it lightly. Their current roster includes the likes of Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Sweeney, and that’s about it. Prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler won’t be ready for the bigs until likely 2015, at least.
Signing Ellsbury would be a brilliant move for the Cubs, from a personnel standpoint. He’d be that table setter that they need at the top of the order, while providing a top notch center fielder. Essentially, it can be summed up in that Ellsbury brings to the equation a great deal of what the Cubs actually lack: a leadoff hitter, a strong defender in center, a wizard on the basepaths, and a marquee name. There’s no doubt that there’s a fit.
However, whether or not the Cubs are ready to commit to that type of financial situation is unlikely. It may cost nine figures to reign in Ellsbury, unless he remains on the market deep into the offseason and has to settle for something less. He’s also 30 years old, and a player whose game is predicated on speed may not be valuable for more than three or four years of that contract, if that.
There’s no indication at this point that the Cubs will be competitive by then. Which would mean that at least two or three years of such a deal would be a throw away, barring an unexpected turnaround, and what you’d be getting from Ellsbury at that point would be a total wild card. Because of that fact alone, the Cubs could choose to pass, in addition to the financial commitment.
The Cubs will likely continue to be connected to Jacoby Ellsbury, simply because of the fit, as well as the Boston connection. Don’t expect a deal to take place though, at least with what we know about this front office on the North Side to date. That doesn’t mean the rumors will go away, of course.