With one of their lowest payrolls in almost a decade, the Chicago Cubs finished 36 games back of the National League Central. Chicago had about $87 million tied up in player contracts in 2012, which was reportedly their lowest mark since 2005.
Team owner meetings began in Chicago this week, and the Cubs could use those face-to-face sit-downs to shore up their underperforming staff and maybe add another outfielder, but that will cost money.
Chicago was 28th in runs scored last season, and had a team ERA of 4.51. Only Colorado and Houston had worse ERAs in the NL.
Team president Theo Epstein addressed some of Chicago’s needs earlier this week.
Catcher Dioner Navarro signed a one-year $1.75 million contract Thursday, and right-hander Scott Baker inked a one year $5.5 million deal, plus incentives, Tuesday.
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Both signings can help the Cubs staff, but offense is still lacking.
Several big bats are still available, like Cody Ross from the Red Sox. The 31-year-old knocked in 81 runs and 22 homeruns last year.
Atlanta's Michale Bourn could be another option. Bourn hit a career-high nine homeruns, and scored 96 runs and stole 42 bases in 2012.
In terms of pitching, two weeks ago the Cubs were the rumored destination for then Los Angeles Angel Dan Haren, but that deal fell apart, and Haren is now a free agent.
The Cubs could take a direct run at Haren, who admittedly had an off year going 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 2012, but is only one year removed from a 16-10 record and a 3.17 ERA with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the majors.
Even if Haren doesn’t sign, Chicago garnered some positive news about starter Matt Garza.
Garza was cleared earlier this week to resume strength and conditioning training, but according to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs could use Garza as trade bait next season for prospects.