MLBTR Predictions: Cubs Will Sign Andrew McCutchen, Jesse Chavez

Free agents are now eligible to sign with new teams, so the predictions are starting to fly in earnest. One of those comes from Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors and features a list of the top 50 free agents with destinations and contract expectations. In keeping with the recent spate of reports about their unwillingness to spend, the Cubs are not very well represented.

Bryce Harper is projected to land a 14-year, $420 million deal from the Dodgers, while Manny Machado is pegged at $390 million over 13 years with the Phillies. Yowza. The market falls off from there, with Patrick Corbin getting $129 million over six years with the Yankees, less than a third of Machado’s deal.

Then you’ve got Dallas Keuchel getting $82 million over four years from the Nationals; Craig Kimbrel is at four years and $70 million; Yasmani Grandal is getting $64 million from the Nats over that same time; Nathan Eovaldi and AJ Pollock could land $60 million, both over four years; JA Happ could score $48 million for three years; Michael Brantley is at $45 million for three years.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to run them all down, but you’ll notice that we’ve rattled off 10 free agents with no mention of the Cubs. That ends with Andrew McCutchen at No. 11, getting an identical contract to Brantley. While he’s no longer playing at an MVP level, or anything remotely close, he’s capable of manning either corner and he put up an .834 OPS and .366 wOBA in the second half with a .892 OPS and .391 wOBA over 114 plate appearances following his trade to the Yankees.

Even though signing McCutchen would not tide over everyone who’s been jonesing for Harper, the former Pirate star is no slouch and still has gas in the tank at 32 years old. There’s also the potential of an emotional value-add from one of the game’s most respected veterans. The Cubs know there’s more to winning than just stats and they might see Cutch as being worth more than what you see in his box score. Perhaps bringing back the Dubble Bubble bucket hat would spark the team.

They’d better hope that’s the case anyway, because the Cubs don’t appear on the list again until No. 44 Jesse Chavez. The 35-year-old reliever excelled down the stretch for the Cubs after being traded from Texas and he said after the season that he’d rather retire than play for another team. He figures to have earned himself more than a few suitors, but mutual need and desire could well bring him back.

And that’s it, just two of the top 50 free agents for the Cubs. This is obviously a product of speculation, so take it for what it’s worth. But we’ve heard McCutchen’s name as a potential Cubs target for a while now and a play for him makes sense if they’re indeed being frugal.

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