Hoyer on Cubs roster: 'We have some holes we need to fill'
The new year has arrived, and as it stands right now Phillip Ervin is the Cubs' starting left fielder.
Adbert Alzolay is the No. 4 starting pitcher, followed by Colin Rea.
Willson Contreras is the catcher. There is no backup.
The Cubs' depth chart is a mess after so many departures, with starting pitcher Yu Darvish and backup catcher Victor Caratini the latest to go. The duo was traded to the Padres last week for starter Zach Davies and four prospects.
Opening Day -- assuming it's not pushed back by COVID-19 -- is less than three months away. Jed Hoyer has some work to do.
"We know there are holes on our roster that we need to address," the Cubs' new president of baseball operations said. "I'm not going to sit here and say, like, we're not going to make any more trades. If trades make sense to make, then we will do them. But those deals are going to be done with an eye on the future if we do them.
"It won't be about cost-cutting. I think we know we have to add players through free agency, and we'll be looking to do that. We have some holes we need to fill and we're talking to agents and looking at free-agent signings, but it's been slow going so far. Hopefully over the next few weeks, that'll open up a little bit."
The Cubs saved $56 million in the Darvish deal, they saved roughly $10 million after non-tendering outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. and they wisely declined the $21 million option they held on veteran starter Jon Lester for the upcoming season.
That is a lot of money going back in the bank, and it figures to stay there until further notice.
"Once we get back to a place where we feel like we want to step on the gas again, we will financially," Hoyer said. "We will be in that market again just as soon as we have a team that has the bones necessary to do that. We are at this period at the end of the window where I don't think that would make a lot of sense right now."
With the market slowed to a near halt by financial ramifications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Hoyer has plenty of relatively cheap free-agent options if he chooses that path to bolster the Cubs' roster.
"I think we're going to be in the free-agent market, we're going to look to supplement the group," Hoyer said.
Eddie Rosario, Jurickson Profar and Robbie Grossman are among the fits to replace Schwarber in left field.
As for starting pitchers -- Hoyer needs to add one or two to the rotation -- there is a lengthy list of free agents that includes Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Rick Porcello.
At catcher, there was a rumor the Cubs are "extensively shopping" Contreras. Hoyer called that "fictional."
"He's one of the top handful of catchers in baseball," Hoyer said of Contreras. "We control him for two more years. Catching is a strength of this team as a result of having him on the roster."
Needing a backup after Caratini was traded to San Diego, Hoyer said Miguel Amaya is not a current candidate. The 21-year-old prospect was hitting .261/.553/.609 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI through 10 games with Criollos de Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
"We're excited about how he's playing in winter ball," Hoyer said. "He's a great prospect, but he's not someone we're penciling in."
The Cubs have been linked to free-agent catcher Jason Castro, who slashed .188/.293/.375 with 2 homers and 9 RBI last season in 27 combined games with the Angels and Padres.