Cubs

Chris Coghlan brings unique perspective to Cubs youth movement

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Chris Coghlan brings unique perspective to Cubs youth movement

Chris Coghlan doesn't have the luxury of thinking about the future.

Who knows if Coghlan will still be here next year, or even for the rest of this season? The Cubs outfielder turns 30 in June and only allows himself to think in a day-to-day mindset instead of getting caught up in the big picture.

Coghlan wants to win a championship here and make a permanent home in Chicago, but he knows that decision isn't his to make.

In the here and now, Coghlan is seeing the majority of playing time in left field, hitting near Starlin Castro in the order just about every day. But the former first-round pick of the Florida Marlins (2006) and National League Rookie of the Year (2009) knows his role is more than just roaming the outfield at the corner of Clark and Addison.

[RELATED - This is what Starlin Castro has been waiting for with Cubs]

"I think all of us have had different experiences in this game," Coghlan said. "Mine's just been very unique, because I've been at the top from an individual standpoint. And I've been at a low point from an individual standpoint where I've gotta make a team out of spring training.

"I've been a guy who's played enough years to see what it's like and what it means to have a winning attitude and to go about that business. I've been a backup player. I've been a full-time player. In six years, I've had a full realm.

"That does give me an advantage and I'm grateful for that. And I don't want to waste that opportunity, to be able to talk to those guys, and whatever role they're in, to say, 'Hey, I've been there. I've done that.'

“We have a lot of young guys that are still trying to figure it out and it's a great opportunity to be able to share that and impart that."

Coghlan enjoyed a career resurgence last season, emerging as a leadoff hitter and posting a .283/.352/.452 slash line with 28 doubles, nine home runs, 41 RBI and 50 runs.

The Cubs brought in Dexter Fowler to set the table at the top of the 2015 lineup and Coghlan has struggled some in his new role, batting just .228 with a .290 on-base percentage. He has shown power - three homers, four doubles - while hitting anywhere from fourth to seventh in the lineup.

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Coghlan admitted he's still getting used to his new role but enjoys playing on a Cubs team that finished April with a 12-8 record and within striking distance in the NL Central.

"I think everybody is more excited," he said. "I mean, the object of the game is to win. That's it. The only thing we play for is to win a championship. So when you're on a team that's winning and has a chance to really contend, it makes things way more enjoyable.

"It sucks playing in September when you have no shot. It's just grinding it out. It's tough not to count days down when you're in that situation. Hopefully this year, when we're in September, we're contending for the division and every game is exciting and you look forward to it and can't wait to get to the ballpark.

"That's the way we feel right now."

Coghlan has seen every level of a rebuild in his career, breaking into the big leagues on a 2009 Marlins team that had Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco leading the way.

By the time Coghlan left Miami after the 2013 season, the Marlins had traded away all of those guys and spent three straight seasons in last place in the NL East while building from scratch around young slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

In Chicago, Coghlan has seen plenty of big-league debuts - Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, among others - as the Cubs try to break in their young talent while going for it at the same time.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

"There are some similarities between [the Cubs and Marlins], but here, it's different because they try to lock up their guys," Coghlan said. "You've got Starlin and [Anthony] Rizzo and then they're bringing in older guys and you have these young guys that are now coming up through the system.

"I think that's probably what Miami tried to envision. But their history just hasn't shown that. I mean, they've locked up [outfielder Christian] Yelich and Stanton now, so they're headed in a different direction. But in my five years there, it wasn't like that. They didn't want to keep guys around for whatever reason.

"Here, it's different in that aspect. I feel like they have a better understanding of their plan - and executing their plan - than when I was in Miami."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

This has been the offseason of Kris Bryant rumors and with his grievance still unresolved Cubs fans can only speculate what will happen to the MVP. Is Kris Bryant trying to change the system like Curt Flood did? Host David Kaplan is joined by ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers to discuss Bryant's future as a Cub, and the lackluster offseason the Cubs have had.

(1:50) - Why the Cubs have not made any moves so far

(3:32) - Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

(6:26) - Cubs need upgrades, specifically in the bullpen

(9:10) - Will the Cubs make a big move before the season starts?

(11:30) - Does Javy Baez get the big extension?

(14:45) - Will the Cubs get to 86 wins this year?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are reportedly close to a deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions.

Souza had a career year with the Rays in 2017, slashing .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+. Those figures were career-bests for Souza, minus his batting average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than the MLB average (23).

The signing of Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

Assuming he stays healthy, Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. He’ll add power to the middle of the order and add a proven bat to an outfield with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another bat in case those two slump again.