The Chicago Cubs will enter their third year of the rebuild under the management of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and they do it with more questions than certainties at this point of the process.
Coming off two seasons where they lost almost 200 games combined and with no manager after the firing of Dale Sveum, the Cubs need to find a manager soon so they can start preparing a season where they should improve as they have a better understanding of what the franchise needs. But the new manager isn’t going to solve all the problems of this team.
The Major League roster is seriously depleted and there’s a clear lack of talent and proven players after two years where the majority of the productive pieces were already traded. The bullpen was ineffective the whole campaign and the core players like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro weren’t at their best this past season.
But if there’s one area that should be upgraded instantly, it’s the outfield.
The Cubs re-signed Ryan Sweeney and also have one more year left of Nate Schierholtz who had a career season last year, but unfortunately for them, there’s not much to choose from after that.
Junior Lake started his transition to the outfield last year and it hasn’t been as smooth as many people thought it would be. It is also unclear how Brian Bogusevic might respond to a full-time position and some of the prospects that are closer to the majors like Matt Szczur or even Kris Bryant, who might end up in right field, are far from being a sure thing right now.
With money to spend, the Cubs should look for outfield help in free agency. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are the main targets but if they turned out to be expensive there could be other choices like Coco Crisp, Curtis Granderson or even David DeJesus, who was a Cub this past season and ended up being dealt at the deadline. All of these players could add veteran experience and could be good fits for the organization while their prospects are still developing in the minors.
It’s no secret that the Cubs should aim higher this offseason as they can turn the corner if they have solid signings and some rebound performances. And upgrading the outfield is definitively a step in the right direction.