LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Before the Cubs' contingent arrived for the Winter Meetings, they were able to check an item off their to-do list by signing free-agent pitcher Tyler Chatwood. But there's much more to do, starting Monday."We're certainly not done," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Before the Cubs' contingent arrived for the Winter Meetings, they were able to check an item off their to-do list by signing free-agent pitcher Tyler Chatwood. But there's much more to do, starting Monday.
"We're certainly not done," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said after locking up Chatwood to a three-year, $38 million contract on Thursday. "The focus of the winter has been pitching, and we need to continue to add to the rotation and retool the bullpen. [Signing Chatwood] is one thing we were able to accomplish before the [Meetings], and that will help us focus on our remaining needs even more."
The Cubs knew as soon as the 2017 season ended they had to find more pitching. Closer Wade Davis and starters Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey all are free agents, and the Cubs decided to non-tender former closer Hector Rondon. Epstein will meet with the agents for Arrieta and Davis at some point during the next four days, but Cubs fans should not expect a reunion.
• Cubs sign Chatwood | No Ohtani, no problem | Hot Stove Tracker
The Cubs acquired Davis at last year's Winter Meetings from the Royals for outfielder Jorge Soler. Now, looking for their fourth closer in as many years, they might've found him in free-agent right-hander Brandon Morrow, who is reportedly finalizing a deal.
With Rondon, Brian Duensing and Koji Uehara gone, the Cubs have work to do with the rest of the bullpen, too. They did sign lefty Dario Alvarez, who Epstein said could be a key addition.
"He has one of the nastiest left-handed sliders in the game," Epstein said of Alvarez, who posted a 2.76 ERA in 20 games with the Rangers last season. "We're looking forward to seeing him in Spring Training. If he throws strikes with that slider, he can certainly help anybody. He's got options as well. He provides good depth for us."
Getting a starter before the Meetings began was a priority.
"Starting pitching is an area where I felt there was more demand than supply, and maybe in certain areas in the relief market, there's a lot of supply," Epstein said. "We felt if we could get the right starter on a reasonable deal before the Winter Meetings, it was something we'd like to do. It wasn't something we felt we had to do. Tyler was somebody we had a lot of interest in for a long time."
Pitching may be the top priority, but the Cubs are looking to find bench players to complement their young core, especially with Jonathan Jay and veteran catchers Alex Avila and Rene Rivera gone. The Cubs were impressed with catcher Victor Caratini, who could be the backup to Willson Contreras if they can't find the right match.
One name the Cubs can cross off their wish list is Shohei Ohtani, who announced on Friday he was picking the Angels. The Cubs did make a presentation to the Japanese two-way player, and Epstein was expected to discuss their bid during a media briefing on Monday afternoon.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon will meet with the media on Tuesday, and the Winter Meetings will close on Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs' 40-man roster is at 35.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.