Heading into the season, it was widely assumed that the Cubs would be out on Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, simply due to the new philosophy that Theo Epstein and his new regime brought to the team this fall, as far as spending.
With the new collective bargaining agreement forcing the Cubs to spend a great deal less on the draft than they would have hoped to, and future star free agents beginning to be locked up by their respective teams (Matt Kemp), it’s looking more and more like the Cubs could be in on one of the winter’s big prizes.
That thought was verified on Tuesday, with the Cubs reaching out to the camp of Albert Pujols, contacting his agent Dan Lozano ahead of their pursuit of the free agent first baseman. Despite that early speculation, it looks as if the Cubs are planning to make a serious run at both Pujols and Fielder.
This is the first real news we’ve gotten this winter as far as potential free agent signings for the Cubs. Most of the news has surrounded their various front office moves, as well as the hiring of Dale Sveum, who has yet to fill out his coaching staff.
Tom Ricketts has placed his faith in Epstein and his staff in dealing with Alfonso Soriano-sized contracts. Initially, the thought was that the Cubs would plan to sign free agents to smaller deals, but the fact that there is going to be such a strict cap on signing draft picks sets the stage for the Cubs to make a serious run at Pujols.
Of course, this is just the beginning stages of anything coming to fruition regarding Pujols as a Cub, or Fielder for that matter. I’d expect grumblings like this to continue throughout the week, before talks really start to heat up surrounding Pujols at next week’s winter meetings.
While the situation is different for Fielder, the Cubs’ biggest competition promises to be their rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. There is already a big offer for Pujols on the table from St. Louis, but there is little doubt that the Cubs could offer more to the free agent slugger, with plenty of cash coming off the books and the team looking to move Alfonso Soriano this winter.
As of right now, everything is just a rumor. We should know a great deal more at the winter meetings, but it’s certainly encouraging to know that the Cubs are serious about making a run at Pujols.