One of my favorite baseball movies of all time is “Field of Dreams”, even though it falls short of the number one spot, I still consider the film a must watch. As everyone knows, the key line to the movie that starts the whole process in motion is “if you build it, they will come”. That is essentially what Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts declared a few days ago when discussing when he might start spending more money in free agency. Once the team knows that their plans to generate more revenue are officially approved, and they have a general idea of how much money they will be getting in on a yearly basis, they will know how much additional money they will be able to spend on free agents.
Now that Ricketts has officially submitted all of the plans to the proper offices to get approved, the plans get the official vote of approval (which from all accounts is only a formality), and the rooftops realize their place (which seems to already have happened) then everything but the building will be completed and the Cubs can finally spend like the big market team that they are.
The problem is, as we have pointed out, the era of free agent gems is nearing the end. Teams are not going to allow their young stud players to hit free agency and have been locking them up long term before their rookie deals have expired. Take a look at the list of free agents that are currently available at years end, and tell me which of these players you would like to see the Cubs go after.
Outside of Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist and Shin-Soo Choo, there are very little positional players who catch your eye. All three of these players are potential free agents at the end of the season, but the odds of any of them reaching free agency are slim.
Zorbrist has a very manageable $7 Million club option, even for the Tampa Bay Rays, which is likely to be picked up. While the Cubs have Darwin Barney at second base, there is nothing more I would love to see than Zorbrist displacing him. He is a wonder with the glove and has the bat to round out his skills. Even if the Rays decline his option, they are likely to sign him to a more team friendly extension, because he is a player that I doubt they want to see leave. If the Cubs offer up a trade proposal with them before the end of the year, then maybe he can be on the team for next year and beyond. Somehow though, I do not think that is a real possibility.
As far as Cano, there is a better chance the Cubs win the World Series this year than the Yankees allowing Cano to leave. He is a stud second baseman, and a fixture of their lineup for years to come. There is no chance whatsoever that they allow him to test the market or even entertain the idea of trading him away to restock their farm system. While every player should always be made available for the right offer, the cost to obtain Cano would bankrupt the Cubs farm system and overall not be worth acquiring.
Choo is the interesting one though. He is still relatively young and does everything Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the rest of the baseball management loves. He can get on base at a very high level, and does so by not only putting up a good average, but getting on base anyway he can. He is a tremendous threat at the top of the order, one who would be a catalyst for the Cubs lineup for a few years. There is no telling what the Cincinnati Reds are thinking about the future of their franchise, and what players they want to keep around, but I have a hard time believing they would let him walk away and get nothing but possibly a draft pick in return. I fully expect the Reds to sign him to an extension.
After those three players, the free agent market is rather slim. I know that fans want the Cubs to be more active in free agency and throw boatloads of money at players, but you want them to spend money wisely. You do not want them spending just to spend do you? That would be a rather stupid way to build a World Series contender. Outside of those three players, I am not sure there is a free agent available who I want to see on the Cubs.