The organization may be focused on 2013, but the large part of the Chicago Cubs fanbase is ready for this campaign to be over before it starts, which means that they’re already looking at potential targets for the Cubs for next winter.
Which means they’re looking at Robinson Cano.
As of right now, Darwin Barney is the second baseman for the Cubs. He brings Gold Glove defense and a somewhat serviceable bat to the equation. But so far, the new Cubs front office has been reluctant to completely commit to Barney as their guy at second base.
There isn’t much depth behind Barney in terms of what’s in the minors save Logan Watkins, but his inconsistency at the plate is probably what would lead the Cubs to go in a different direction at some point. That direction could end up being towards the likes of Cano.
Theo Epstein and the Cubs organization each know a thing or two about bad contracts (See, Soriano, Alfonso). But a huge contract for Cano isn’t the gamble that it could be for other players that we’ve seen Theo throw huge money at in the past.
Cano is head and shoulders above the rest of the second basemen in the league. He’s been one of the best offensive players in the game the past few years, averaging a .313 batting average, 29 home runs, and 101 RBIs since 2009. His WAR was eight last year. He’s the definition of elite.
He’s also durable, playing in at least 159 games every year since 2006. Combine the offense and durability with the above average defense and you have the total package. But is it a package that the Cubs would be willing to go ‘all in’ on and pursue? That’s the question here.
If Darwin Barney fails to come through offensively, again, there should be no question that the Cubs will be all over Cano, regardless of the price. Cano is only 30, without a ton of mileage and poses no significant injury risk. That’s the kind of player you throw big money at.
The Cubs are projected to contend for a playoff spot next year. Once Alfonso Soriano is gone, they’ll likely be willing to toss around some extra cash on the right guy.
Especially if it means bringing in a player that will put them over the top, like Robinson Cano.
In the end, Cano will very likely end up remaining with the New York Yankees. But expect the Cubs to be right in the thick of things and make a strong run at signing the first marquee free agent of the Epstein Era.