Cubs take care of business before, during Meetings

After adding outfielder Jay, lefty Duensing, club addresses last big need with Davis trade

Cubs take care of business before, during Meetings

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- After winning the World Series, the Cubs didn't feel they had too many issues to address this offseason, but they took care of nearly everything on their wish list at the Winter Meetings.

The Cubs were the headliners last year, acquiring free agents Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey. Those players all contributed to Chicago's 103-win season and first World Series championship since 1908. At this year's Winter Meetings, which closed Thursday, the Cubs did find a new closer in Wade Davis and added another arm to the bullpen with Rule 5 Draft pick Caleb Smith.

"We downplayed expectations because last winter was so busy and we had so many things going on, and we reshaped our entire roster last winter," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday. "We're really excited to get Wade. That really helps us solidify our bullpen. We'll continue to make moves in the bullpen and continue to add pitching depth. Our roster wasn't going to change dramatically -- we were just going to be specific in what we wanted to accomplish."

Maddon celebrates Davis deal

The Cubs left the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center with more hardware, winning the Baseball America Award as the organization of the year.

Deals done: Manager Joe Maddon knows Davis well after their time together with the Rays, and the Cubs made a deal for the right-hander in exchange for Jorge Soler. In an unusual move, the Royals encouraged the Cubs to have their medical staff check out Davis personally, so head athletic trainer PJ Mainville flew to New York on Wednesday to do a physical before the deal was completed. Davis was on the disabled list twice in 2016 because of a right forearm strain.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said they dissected every pitch Davis threw in September when he did return from the DL.

"He looked like vintage Wade Davis," Epstein said. "We're very comfortable that it's something he dealt with midseason and not that it's chronic. We've determined he'll be a very effective reliever for us in 2017."

Last July, the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman and now have Davis. What does this mean for former Cubs closer Hector Rondon?

MLB Now: Davis traded to Cubs

"There's fewer than 10 people on the planet who you would move Rondon out of the closer's role for, in my opinion," Epstein said. "[Chapman and Davis] happen to be two of them. We were fortunate to have those guys, and he understands that. He can really impact the team in a setup role."

The week before the Winter Meetings began, the Cubs signed both free-agent outfielder Jon Jay and left-handed reliever Brian Duensing to one-year contracts.

Rule 5 Draft: The Cubs did not pick a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, but did acquire Smith, whom the Brewers selected seventh overall in the Draft. The Cubs had the last pick, and had an agreement with the Brewers beforehand.

Pitching coach Chris Bosio was one of the many Cubs staffers who evaluated Smith, 25. The lefty pitched at Double-A Trenton last season, compiling a 3.96 ERA in 27 games (seven starts). Smith will go into the bullpen, but he could be used as a spot starter. He's never pitched in the big leagues.

The Cubs lost right-handed pitcher Armando Rivero to the Braves in the Major League phase and also lost infielder Daniel Lockhart to the D-backs in the Triple-A phase. The Cubs did select infielder Kevin Cornelius in the Triple-A phase out of the Yankees' organization.

Goals accomplished: The Cubs wanted to bolster the bullpen, and they did so with the acquisitions of Davis, Duensing and Smith. The more arms the better, Epstein said, especially with how Maddon likes to use his relievers in specific matchups.

"We're going to try to build up a ton of depth, we're going to try to build up a really talented deep bullpen with a lot of different options that we can use in close games so we don't have to use these guys three out of four [games]," Epstein said.

Ideally, the Cubs would have five or six different pitchers they could use in late-game situations.

The addition of Jay also is huge for the Cubs. The Cubs wanted not only someone to mentor young outfielder Albert Almora Jr., but provide another experienced voice in the clubhouse with David Ross retiring. Jay is a good fit.

Jay signs deal with Cubs

Unfinished business: The Cubs will keep an eye on adding more pitching, especially any players who still have options. With a young core of position players, there aren't many openings for the big league team, but Chicago does need depth at the Triple-A level, specifically a backup catcher. The Cubs want to be prepared in case of injuries.

GM's bottom line: "We expect to play for a long time again [in 2017], and we want to plan accordingly, so we've got a tough road ahead, like everyone does, but we do have to plan for playing that seventh month, and it does require some lengthy discussions and creativity [with the roster]." -- Hoyer

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.