When Theo Epstein left Boston to become president of the Chicago Cubs after the 2011 season, he forecasted a rebuilding process that would include purging bad contracts of veterans, upgrading a woefully barren farm system and acquiring low-risk, high-reward players. The project has continued this offseason.
So far this offseason, the Cubs have acquired backup catcher George Kottaras and outfielder Justin Ruggiano via trades; signed outfielders Casper Wells and Darnell McDonald, and infielder Ryan Roberts, to minor league deals; and inked left-handed reliever Wesley Wright in addition to Veras.
Since the Cubs farm system features 21-year-old third baseman Kris Bryant (who was selected second overall last summer), 21-year-old shortstop Javier Baez (who could be moved to third base), and 25-year-old corner infielder Mike Olt, they have trade chips. Olt is a candidate to start at third base for the Cubs in 2014 since Donnie Murphy and Luis Valbuena are the lone players who occupy the hot corner on the depth chart.
Though he is signed to a long-term deal and is just 23, Starlin Castro could eventually be moved if Baez is deemed good enough defensively to man shortstop.
The Cubs outfield is lean with Ruggiano as the projected center fielder and Nate Schierholtz as the projected right fielder. That isn’t appealing for the long term, but the club does have promising 23-year-old left fielder Junior Lake (who hit .288 with six home runs in 236 at -bats last season) and highly regarded prospects Jorge Soler and Albert Almora.