More than 40 players were not tendered contracts by their clubs by last Friday’s deadline, making a much larger pool of free agents. Some of these players (complete list here) were starters for their teams last year and quite a few had been solid performers in recent seasons, if not in 2018.
There’s a larger issue here, too, in that many of these players, still productive, would likely have cost their teams a fair amount of money in 2019. What this accomplishes, essentially, is to depress the free-agent market for the mid-level player. The big boys like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will still get paid. But some others won’t. BCB’s Sara Sanchez will have more on this part of this issue later today.
In the meantime, from that list, I’ve identified a couple of players I think the Cubs should look into signing.
Former Tigers catcher James McCann is one of those players. There’s been much talk that the Cubs are seeking a veteran backup for Willson Contreras. McCann had an awful year at the plate in 2018, though he was better in 2017. His defense is what’s attractive here. He has a career caught-stealing rate of 37 percent, which is excellent. The one thing working against him is his pitch-framing, which doesn’t rank much higher than Contreras’. Still, as a potential backup, I think he’d be worth a look.
Brad Boxberger is the guy who gave up these home runs [VIDEO] last July 26:
After being a fairly effective reliever for the Rays for several seasons (including under Joe Maddon in 2014), Boxberger was swapped to the D-backs last offseason. He was doing fairly well until that game, but including that blown save through the end of the season, Boxberger had four blown saves in 12 chances and posted a 7.88 ERA and 2.063 (!) WHIP, with a .933 OPS against. Yikes. Still, he’s only 30 and has closing experience. He made $1.85 million last year and, having been non-tendered, might not cost too much to bring to spring training.
Or maybe the Cubs would like a reunion with Blake Parker. Parker, who is the Iowa Cubs’ all-time save leader (and really, you don’t want to do that, it means you’re spending way too much time at Triple-A), finally established himself as a solid MLB reliever in 2018, posting 14 saves for the Angels and having a good walk rate (2.9 per nine innings). The only scary part of his 2018 stat line is the 12 home runs he allowed in 66⅓ innings. Parker turns 34 in June and made $1.8 million last year, so he likely wouldn’t be expensive either.
And then there’s Ronald Torreyes, who many think the Cubs are going to re-sign after non-tendering him Friday. We’ve been through the discussion of Torreyes’ non-tender and it’s not my purpose here to re-hash it. The Cubs definitely need someone to back up shortstop, and Torreyes fits the bill pretty well. I suspect the Cubs will re-sign him to a minor-league deal, and he’ll work on a split contract in 2018, spending some time on the MLB roster and some time in Iowa.
Anyone else on that non-tender list who appeals to you?