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Outside the Cubs Boxcar plays chicken, part 4

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Crowing about G, H, and I and looking at the fly-chasers.

Cincinnati Reds v San Diego Padres
whither Ted Giannoulas?
Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Here’s the current roster in this projection, based on the three previous installments (part 1, part 2, part 3). In this scenario, Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis have both re-signed, at 5/150 and 4/62 respectively, and Alex Cobb has been signed on the pitching front, and Arismendy Alcantara and Alexi Amarista have been signed as infield insurance.

In the event that reality intrudes, things can and will change.

Alcantara and Amarista have only been extended minor-league invites at this point, so there’s a little flexibility (they have 40-man numbers for neatness’ sake). We’re going to do the alpha sequence G, H, I and look at the outfield picture a bit today, with the J/K sequence coming later this week and the L, M, N group Sunday or Monday. Here’s the Free Agent Tracker, so you can follow along at home.

  1. Arismendy Alcantara
  2. Albert Almora Jr.
  3. Alexi Amarista
  4. Jake Arrieta
  5. Javier Baez
  6. Kris Bryant
  7. Eddie Butler
  8. Trevor Cahill
  9. Matt Carasiti
  10. Victor Caratini
  11. Alex Cobb
  12. Willson Contreras
  13. Taylor Davis
  14. Wade Davis
  15. Carl Edwards Jr.
  16. Luke Farrell
  17. Justin Grimm
  18. Deolis Guerra
  19. Jacob Hanneman
  20. Ian Happ
  21. Kyle Hendricks
  22. Jason Heyward
  23. Tommy La Stella
  24. Jon Lester
  25. Dillon Maples
  26. Cory Mazzoni
  27. Alec Mills
  28. Mike Montgomery
  29. Jose Quintana
  30. Anthony Rizzo
  31. Randy Rosario
  32. Hector Rondon
  33. Addison Russell
  34. Kyle Schwarber
  35. Pedro Strop
  36. Jen-Ho Tseng
  37. Duane Underwood Jr.
  38. Mark Zagunis
  39. Rob Zastryzny
  40. Ben Zobrist

Pitching: Jaime Garcia and his steadily-rising WHIP doesn’t interest me. Nor does Jeanmar Gomez, who walks far too many people for my liking. Luke Gregerson is a maybe, if he lasts a while. $6 million+ might be a little high for what he is at this point in his career. Deolis Guerra is another maybe, a little stronger than Gregerson. He’s young, at least, but his results have been a little mixed. I could make a case for Drew Hutchison as a reliever but it wouldn’t be a terribly strong case. Jeremy Hellickson is gonna want entirely too much money, based on his one year with the Phillies. Derek Holland, no. Greg Holland, only if he lasts until later. I don’t see anyone there that’s good enough to use the last roster spot on or boot someone off for, but I’m going to add Guerra to the list and we’ll see where we go from there. I like his arm and potential. He doesn’t walk too many batters.

Infielders: Just say no.

Outfielders: CarGo or CarGo? I think that car went. I want no part of Carlos Gomez or Carlos Gonzalez. Some people might like Curtis Granderson as a backup. The idea is worth entertaining, but only at the right money. I wouldn’t spend more than a couple million on him, and he’s likely to want more than that. None of the others interest me at all.

This is the outfield as it stands now:

LF

  1. Kyle Schwarber (L)
  2. Ian Happ (S)
  3. Ben Zobrist (S)

CF

  1. Albert Almora Jr
  2. Ian Happ (S)
  3. Jason Heyward (L)

RF

  1. Jason Heyward (L)
  2. Ian Happ (S)
  3. Ben Zobrist (S)

It’s a complex outfield picture — I think Happ leapfrogs Zobist on the depth chart and plays a good bit against right-handers in center and left-handers in left. He and Almora, as discussed previously, are the likely lead-off hitters, unless Heyward suddenly rediscovers the line-drive stroke he once had or someone is acquired from outside. The Cubs don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter, but very few teams do. Ask interbret. There aren’t so many of those guys around any more.

Happ has defensive deficiencies, but he’s athletic enough and displays sufficient work ethic that I think he can improve. He’s better than Schwarber at this point. His feet and his routes need attention. But we’re only halfway through the alphabet, and it’s only late November.

Alcantara, Contreras, and Bryant could figure in this scenario, in small ways, as they’re all capable of playing corner outfield positions. If Schwarber were to be dealt, I would consider switching out Bryant and Happ, or at least explore that during spring training. If Happ were to leave, then Zobrist would find more playing time. I don’t necessarily want that, based on the results both at the plate and in the field during 2017.

Thanks for reading.