After surprising Stroman signing, are Cubs preparing to spend on more proven talent?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Cubs signed free-agent starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71 million contract last week. MLB owners locked out the players the following day, so wait and see if Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer keeps spending when the game is back up and running.

    The Cubs signed free-agent starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71 million contract last week. MLB owners locked out the players the following day, so wait and see if Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer keeps spending when the game is back up and running. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/7/2021 8:06 PM

If there was one fan base ready to welcome a lengthy shutdown, it was the Cubs.

Decidedly disgusted by the front office's roster gutting over the past year, Cubs fans all but checked out after management jettisoned a group of stars including Yu Darvish, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo predictably resulting in a 71-91 record and fourth-place finish in the NL Central last season.

 

The Cubs were mostly silent in November, resulting in even more anguish over a powerhouse team that quickly became irrelevant.

After completing their worst season since 2013, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer didn't sound like the Cubs were going to start getting back to spending on impact talent anytime soon.

"We're going to be active," Hoyer said. "We have a lot of areas we need to improve so I think we'll certainly be active. But I think we need to be active in a way that we feel we're getting the right value for the dollars we're spending and we're also making sure that we're not hindering ourselves going forward with expenditures for right now."

The day before the owners locked out the players last week -- shutting down baseball for what could be an extended stretch -- the Cubs made a shocking addition.

In desperate need of help in the rotation, they signed free-agent starter Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71 million contract. The 30-year-old righty can opt out of the deal after two seasons.

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A proven performer, Stroman has a 3.63 ERA over a seven-year career with the Mets and Blue Jays. In 33 starts for New York last season, he was 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA while leading the National League with 33 starts.

Not only does Stroman fill a glaring need, his arrival sends a clear signal the Cubs don't plan a slow, painful rebuild.

"I think them going out and getting me kind of speaks to that point," Stroman said. "I think they're definitely not in a full rebuild. I think they definitely want to win now. I'm coming in here to win."

The Cubs rotation figures to be much better in 2022. In addition to adding Stroman, they claimed Wade Miley off waivers from the Reds in early November and picked up the veteran left-hander's $10 million option for next season.

Last week, the Cubs also signed veteran catcher Yan Gomes to a two-year, $13 million contract and added outfielder Clint Frazier on a one-year deal.

The Cubs are already better than they were at the end of the season, but are they good enough to get past the Cardinals and Brewers in the Central?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Probably not, but stay tuned.

When a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, Hoyer could follow the Stroman signing by adding an even bigger name in free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa.

Considering he's reportedly turned down a five-year, $160 million contract to return to the Astros, Correa is going to be an expensive get.

The Dodgers and Yankees always have big money to spend and both clubs need shortstops, so Correra to the Cubs seems like wishful thinking at this juncture.

They might be content with Stroman, Miley, Gomes and Frazier as offseason additions, but the Cubs still have plenty of money and they might try to keep the momentum going by targeting less expensive free agents like starter Danny Duffy; or Michael Conforto and Kyle Seager, a pair of bats with needed power.

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