Compared to recent years past, it's pretty nice to actually hear about the Cubs being involved in these discussions - it makes the rumor mill much more entertaining for me, regardless of whether or not I feel these would be good moves. It's just nice to be involved, y'know?
But, even though Theo & Co. are popping up in connection with just about every big name on the market this winter, big-ticket free agents have never really been their MO. After all, how do you think this blog earned it's moniker?
As it stands, the only moves the Cubs have made while I was away and hibernating have been of the roster jenga variety:
The front office like to take the patchwork method to building a bullpen. After a shaky first half in 2015, they cobbled together cast-offs in Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Fernando Rodney, et al. and turned them into a lock-down pen. Now that some of those folks will be lost to free agency, it's time to start re-patching.
Their first acquisition was to claim Mr. Cook on waivers from the Red Sox A central component of the A's bullpen for three seasons, injuries really dulled his shine last year. He was lit up in 9 games for Oakland and Boston, posting an 18.69 ERA with 7 walks in 8.2 frames. But, if healthy, he could be useful.
I know what you're thinking - Eric Jokisch has already been in the fold, he hasn't gone anywhere! Well, you'd be right; however, the Cubs also went out and traded for the guy he shares this 2015 Topps Heritage rookie card with - Spencer Patton.
Known to light up a few radar guns, Spencer is your typical case of electric stuff and dangerous lack of control. He's seen time in the Bigs over the past two seasons and it should be noted that in 24 frames of action in 2015, he hit 4 batters and walked 12. However, his velocity is still intriguing and all this lottery ticket cost was an A-ball middle infielder, a position is well-stacked in this org.
Plus, he's a local boy (born in Urbana, played college ball at SIUE) who make it to the show despite being drafted way down in the 24th round. Everyone loves a good human-interest story.
Next up, a couple of arms for which I do not yet have cards (thanks GoSportsCards and COMC!). Iyt seems like it 's been all the rage to sign intriguing 7-year, minor league free agents to MLB deals, at least for the past few seasons. That is how the White Sox hit it big with Jose Quintana and maybe the Cubs can do the same with this converted infielder. Since he still has options, he's likely ticketed for Iowa.
Additionally, the Cubs made a second waiver claim - this time from the Mets, an organization that seems to be hemorrhaging pitching depth. Leathersich was a top prospect in their chain and made his MLB debut this year. However, Tommy John came a-knocking and he's out until mid-season, at best.
Finally, the Cubs pulled another trade for a once potent bullpen arm with recent struggles when they sent Wander Cabrera (a prospect who has yet to make his North American debut) to the Rockies for Sexy Rexy here.
Another cheap lottery ticket, Brothers has battled injuries and effectiveness for the past two seasons. However, with a full bill of health, the former Colorado closer was nails for the Mile High City. Of course, the first time he gives up a run everybody will just be waiting to exclaim, "Oh Brothers!"
Also, hopefully his bill of health is cleaner than his hat - check out those salty sweat deposits, yuck!
Late nights in Theo's office
And, while we wait on the big-names to land (hopefully a couple find Chicago to their liking) this is what most FO's do during the silly season - play Jenga. After all, there are far more available players than there are MLB jobs.
Hopefully the Cubs' Jenga-like approach to shoring up the pen continues to work; that said, you know how this game could end.
Wrigley Roster Jenga - it's not just a name, it's a lifestyle!