Cubs not likely to pursue big-ticket free agent closers

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Aroldis Chapman

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Closer Aroldis Chapman’s free agency departure leaves the most conspicuous hole on the Cubs’ playoff roster as they head into the offseason trying to retool for a repeat.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll take a conspicuous approach to filling it.

“We’ll explore every avenue,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday during the baseball’s annual GM meetings in Scottsdale. “Obviously, there’s appealing guys on the free agent market that have had great track records, but I think that closers come from all over, and in general when you start looking where those guys come from, some of them had some bumps along the road and established themselves later on.”

That was the case with Indians’ bullpen ace Andrew Miller, Hoyer said.

The bottom line is, don’t expect the Cubs to be aggressive bidders for the top three closers on the free agent market: Chapman, the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen or the Nationals’ Mark Melancon.

All three are expected to command big, multi-year commitments – including whispers of as much as $100 million (five years) for Chapman.

The Cubs have the resources to splurge on a closer, especially after the windfall of revenues this postseason brought. But it’s not in the DNA of a front office that in Boston let All-Star Jonathan Papelbon walk rather than offer a multi-year deal.

“It’s a volatile position,” Hoyer said. “All three of those guys have done an exceptional job and been really steady for the last three, four years, but it’s a volatile role for sure.”

The Cubs are more likely to look at in-house depth and at potential trades or lower level free agents to backfill through depth.

And don’t forget Hector Rondon. He struggled with a triceps injury at the end of the season, but at the time of the July trade for Chapman, the former Cubs’ closer had similar numbers – better in several key areas – to Chapman’s over the previous two calendar years.

“He’s had a great run with us,” Hoyer said. “That trade was not made because we didn’t have confidence in him. It was made because of the way baseball is played in October.”


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