What the Cubs need to get done at the winter meetings

From ESPN - December 7, 2017

CHICAGO -- Ideally, the Chicago Cubs, along with all other suitors for Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani, will know whether he's part of their organization by the time the baseball world descends on Orlando this weekend for the winter meetings.

It is not that his addition will impact anyone's budget -- he comes at a minimal cost. It's that acquiring him will give his new team flexibility to spend elsewhere.

Considering the Cubs' need for starting pitching, Ohtani would check a big box for them while allowing the front office to allocate dollars in other ways. Ohtani would also impact the Cubs' trade market.

With that in mind, let's go through a checklist of the Cubs' winter meetings needs, based on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being an absolute necessity.

Starting pitching: 9

With or without Ohtani, if the Cubs can leave Orlando with a legitimate starting pitcher (or check this box shortly thereafter), then they will have done their job for the week. Anything more would be gravy. Even with Ohtani in the fold, free-agent Alex Cobb would be a great addition and would give the Cubs a deep rotation. The savings on Ohtani could easily be spent on Cobb, as the Cubs have been careful about whom they go shopping for so far this winter.

League sources said the Cubs had early interest in pitchers Mike Minor and Miles Mikolas, but not at the prices for which they signed with Texas and St. Louis, respectively.

Then there is Jake Arrieta. There has been no indication of whether the door on his return to the Cubs is open or closed, but agent Scott Boras is sure to give some sense of where the landscape is during his Orlando state-of-the union address regarding his clients.

The Cubs need even more depth for their rotation, but reclamation projects can come later. For now, a top-four starter should be their priority, regardless of what happens with Ohtani.

Relief pitching: 7


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