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Outside the Boxcar plays chicken, part one

A look at MLB free agency, A to Z.

Chinese Celebrate New Year
We’ll see who reads whose entrails, bub
Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images

One of the things I am currently gruntled by is the fact that the Cubs have been in the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, and at no time seemed not to fit. This is a new and welcome thing, something the Cub Tracks continuum contained only by reputation. Previously only Rome had a great fall.

This is the trouble with being an armchair Nostradamus — there’s no looking back. Only further, and no left turn unstoned and all of that, for the navigators cannot survive without the spice that enables their farseeing and allows them to mix their metaphors so thoroughly. This is especially difficult when one is a committee. As Ian Hunter so famously remarked, “no one is alone with a schizophrenic.”.

Ahem. And also pfaugh. Everyone knows that committees can’t see past the ends of their noses.

Today, we, the so-called braintrust of Outside the Boxcar, propose to mill the Cubs’ free-agent rumors all together with a flick of the grist like the tenement punsters we are, using our mortar and pestle, and then put them all back together again. You’ll see what I mean in a minute, Baba Yaga.

In order to follow along, if you wish, here’s MLB Trade Rumors’ Free Agent Tracker. It’s in alphabetical order, so we’ll just pick from that list the people we would like to add to our organization and then see what we can do to fit them, at least into minor league camp. You can play along at home if you like.

Today, we’ll do ‘A.’

Here’s my list:

Arismendy Alcantara — makes just a hair over the minimum, switch-hits (at least theoretically) is reasonably competent at multiple positions. Might not ever figure it out, but is handy to have. I don’t believe he has to be on the 40-man. Even if he does, he’d look good in Iowa in case he hits a hot streak while someone’s slumping, if there’s room when the smoke clears. Yeah, he’s been a Cub before, and it wasn’t good. Temper your expectations. Triple-A is his home base.

Alexi Amarista — backup ss, 2b type with seven seasons under his belt but he isn’t gonna break the bank. A career 0.4 WAR, decent glove. Worth stashing if you have the room. This is the guy that Alcantara competes with for roster space.

Jake Arrieta — my bid is on record as 5/150. I don’t believe those people that report much less. I think there’s three more good years and a mediocre one left in his tank. He’d be John Lackey at the end of his deal.

Alex Avila — Made six million and change last year. Will want more $ and years. I’d love to have him, but I don’t think he’s a good bet to sign at what the Cubs would give.

Could maybe make a case for Fernando Abad or Cody Asche as organizational filler as well.

The Cubs’ 40-man currently stands at 34, by my count. Alcantara/Amarista battle with Tommy LaStella for two spots. Make it 35.

Let’s assume for the purposes of this exercise that the Cubs sign Arrieta, until they don’t. That makes 36, some of which are definitely not set in stone.

Next time, we consult the hivemind about the ‘B’s.

Thanks for reading.