This post comes as a suggestion from BCBer Staple Gunner. He emailed me and said:
With a potentially busy Cubs offseason brewing, it might be fun to have an article where commenters are called on to predict the offseason. Kind of a 'you be the GM'. It would be interesting to refer back to mid & post offseason.
I thought this would be an excellent exercise. Since I'm writing this article, I'll start, and by no means are these the only moves I would make, just the most significant ones, moves that I think could help the Cubs move in the direction of contending for the N.L. Central title, as that is Theo Epstein's stated goal. Let me also stipulate that I'm not necessarily married to all these ideas.
So... here we go.
- Sign Jon Lester. It will probably take a deal in the range of five years, $120 million, possibly even a bit higher. As has been written by many, including me, this is kind of a no-brainer. Lester is a top-of-the-rotation starter. He's been healthy and not missed a start since he became a full-time starter in 2008. He's lefthanded, he's 31 (in January) and he has a positive relationship with this front office.
- Sign Justin Masterson. This, actually, is a signing much like those of Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel. That is, the signing of a pitcher who has had good years, but has succumbed to injury issues and declined. Masterson supposedly had some knee problems that ruined his 2014 season, but a year ago at this time, he was being discussed as a post-2014 FA nearly on the level of Lester. He's clearly a reclamation project at this point, so you'd sign him to a low base with incentives, a one-year deal with perhaps an option year. Again, this is a player who has a good relationship with this FO, as Theo is the GM who drafted him in 2006.
- Eat Edwin Jackson's contract and release him. You know, I had a look at a number of other "bad contracts," including Miguel Montero, B.J. Upton and others. There just doesn't seem to be a fit for swapping Jackson's deal for anyone else's bad deal. Theo's already admitted publicly that this was a mistake. Yes, it will be a $22 million mistake, because that's what it will cost the Cubs to simply release him. With the number of young players likely on the 2015 and 2016 rosters making minimum salaries, the Cubs can afford to do this.
- Sign one of these FA lefthanded relievers: Neal Cotts, Andrew Miller or Zach Duke. All had good years in 2014 and none will come cheap, but the Cubs could use an additional lefty in the pen, assuming they keep Wesley Wright.
- Look into signing Nick Markakis, whose option is likely going to be declined by the Orioles. Markakis is a Peter Angelos favorite who might return to Baltimore anyway, but he'd be a nice addition to the Cubs outfield, especially for his defense.
- Take a flyer on one of these two outfielders: Mike Carp or Colby Rasmus. Both were highly-touted prospects who haven't fulfilled their promise in the major leagues, both are 28 and still might be able to put up a couple of good years as backup outfielders. Carp can also play first base.
All right, there are a few ideas to get you started. Now it's your turn. Have at it.