While we wait for Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, etc. to make up their minds where they’d like to sign and play for 2018 and beyond, I thought I’d go through this little exercise, just for the heck of it.
Here, in alphabetical order, are all the unsigned free agents who once wore the blue pinstripes, and whether I think they might be worth taking a flyer on for 2018. I’m not including players who only played in the Cubs farm system before departing (thus guys like Al Alburquerque are excluded). Only ex-big league Cubs are included, and I’m leaving Arrieta and Wade Davis out of this discussion because while the Cubs are still interested in them, they deserve separate treatment, which I’ll probably give later on.
Arismendy Alcantara: He never fulfilled the promise he had in the Cubs system. He hit .171/.187/.248 in 105 at-bats for the Reds last year. Pass.
Brett Anderson: He didn’t seem to enjoy his time here, and wasn’t very good. He wasn’t very good for the Blue Jays, either (5.13 ERA, 1.440 WHIP in seven starts). Pass.
Darwin Barney: If he’d be willing to play at Iowa and wait for a callup if needed for injury replacement, sure, why not? We saw what happened last year when the Cubs really didn’t have a backup shortstop.
Quintin Berry: Nope.
Andres Blanco: Hard to believe he’s still around, eight years after he wore a Cubs uniform. He hit .192/.257/.292 in 130 at-bats for the Phillies last year. Pass.
Emilio Bonifacio: Nope.
Trevor Cahill: The Cubs should be able to do better for a fifth starter. If for some reason they can’t, it might be worth looking into Cahill, who pitched reasonably well for the Padres before being sent to the Royals, where he was bad.
Andrew Cashner: He’s still trying to market himself as a starter. I’ve always felt he’d have been better off closing. He has made 30+ starts once in his career. If someone made him a closer, he’d probably reel off three or four good years doing it. That said, I don’t think the Cubs would want to meet his asking price.
Brian Duensing: His asking price will likely be too high for the Cubs to bring him back.
Scott Feldman: If he hadn’t been injured the Reds would probably have been able to get a decent return on him at the deadline. If he’s healthy, that’s going to be his role again in 2018: start for a non-contender while they hope he throws well enough to trade him.
Mike Freeman: I’d rather have Darwin Barney.
Matt Garza: Nope. Wait, let me elaborate: His four years in Milwaukee were pretty bad. Overall he posted -0.8 bWAR for the Brewers, which means they could have dragged just about anyone off the waiver wire and gotten equivalent production, and not spent $52 million on it. My guess is that his career is over.
Austin Jackson: He actually had a good year in Cleveland, .318/.387/.482 in 280 at-bats. That was worth 1.9 bWAR, which would have been higher except his defense was bad. He’ll be 31 just before spring training. Could be a fifth-outfielder candidate, I suppose, but most likely he’ll head elsewhere to start.
Edwin Jackson: You have got to be kidding.
Jon Jay: At the right price, I’d love to have him back.
John Lackey: Probably retired.
Raffy Lopez: Yes, he was a Cub, for seven games in 2014. He’s exactly the kind of guy you’d sign and stash at Iowa for injury insurance, if he’d be willing.
Miguel Montero: Probably retired, though not likely by his choice.
Jason Motte: He had essentially the same year in Atlanta in 2017 that he had for the Cubs in 2015. If no one else signs him, he might be worth a minor-league invite to spring training.
Zach Putnam: Another guy you probably forgot was a Cub, for five games in 2013. His problem has been staying healthy; when he was, as in 2016, he threw pretty well (2.30 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, 0.7 bWAR for the White Sox). Someone else who might be worth a NRI to spring training.
Rene Rivera: If the Cubs can’t come to an agreement with Alex Avila, sure, I’d take Rivera back as a backup to Willson Contreras.
Geovany Soto: If he’s healthy, he’d be worth considering as a backup to Contreras. But his injuries have kept him under 100 at-bats in a season every year but one since 2013.
Koji Uehara: He’s probably done pitching in MLB and could wind up back in Japan if he wants to keep playing.
25 players who once played for the Cubs, all now free agents. Perhaps 10 of them might be worth considering for a repeat tour at Wrigley Field. A small handful, I think, might actually wind up coming back to the North Side.