Cubs

Duffy, Davies and other Cubs set to become free agents

Cubs
USA TODAY

In the blink of an eye, the Cubs traded away a third of their roster at the trade deadline in July.

Beyond the franchise-altering ramifications of the flurry of moves, the Cubs’ selloff meant they traded away their big-name free agents in this offseason’s class: Kris Bryant, Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo.

Joc Pederson and Andrew Chafin — who have mutual options this winter — are among those traded who could be entering free agency. Ryan Tepera is also a free agent.

All those moves may lead people to ask if the Cubs even have any free agents this winter. (Spoiler alert: they do.)

Free agency starts five days after the conclusion of the World Series, putting it somewhere between Nov. 5 and 8. 

How each team operates with uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement is to be seen. The CBA expires Dec. 1 at 10:59 p.m. CT.

In any case, the Cubs have their share of players set to hit the open market this winter, who are as follows:

Robinson Chirinos

Chirinos finally made his Cubs debut — 21 years after they signed him as an international free agent. The Cubs signed him in July, and he helped stabilize their revolving door at backup catcher.

Chirinos hit .227/.324/.454 in 45 games with the Cubs, bringing valuable experience behind the plate to help guide a pitching staff featuring many young arms.

The Cubs like what Chirinos brings to the table as a veteran presence and he made a strong impression in his three-month stint with the team.

 

“He’s a great teammate,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said this month. “I know the coaching staff thought the world of him. His presence meant a lot to us.”

Chirinos is a well-regarded veteran in the industry. A reunion could make sense for the Cubs this winter as they look to take some of the burden off Willson Contreras following his heavy workload in 2021.

Zach Davies

Acquired in the salary dump trade of Yu Darvish, Davies came to the Cubs with a track record of durability as a mid-rotation starter. He slotted in as the No. 3 arm on the Opening Day starting staff.

Davies was durable with the Cubs — he made 32 starts — but had his worst big-league season in 2021, finishing with a 5.78 ERA and 1.601 WHIP, each career worsts. 

He struggled to pitch deep into games, tossing 148 innings while often being removed before facing the opposing lineup a third time.

It’s unlikely the Cubs pursue bringing him back this winter as they look outside the organization to improve their starting rotation.

Matt Duffy

Duffy was an under-the-radar addition last offseason. The Cubs signed him to a minor-league deal and even he admitted he was a bit surprised to make the Opening Day roster. 

But his offensive skill set is exactly what the Cubs were looking for and lacked during their recent contention window: making contact. He posted an 86.1 percent contact rate in 2021, second on the team behind Eric Sogard, who was DFA’d midseason. 

Duffy missed two months due to a back injury but was a steady presence when healthy. He hit .287 with a .357 on-base percentage in 97 games, finishing the season on a 13-game hitting streak.

He primarily played third and second base, also appearing at shortstop, left field and first base.

The Cubs thought highly of Duffy in 2021, and between his offensive profile and ability to play several positions, he’s a candidate to return in 2022.

Jose Lobaton, Andrew Romine, Austin Romine

Lobaton was part of the Cubs’ alternate site squad in 2020 and they brought him back in February on a minor-league deal. With several backup catchers injured, they promoted him from Triple-A Iowa in June. He went down with a season-ending shoulder injury after six games.

The Cubs signed Andrew Romine to a minor-league deal right before Opening Day. He was one of the initial players called up from Iowa in the aftermath of the deadline selloff. 

While Romine is a versatile defender, he hit .183/.234/.267 in 26 games this season. The Cubs outrighted him to Iowa after designating him for assignment in September.

Andrew’s brother, catcher Austin Romine, was among the record nine catchers the Cubs used this season. He only played in 28 games, missing extended time due to a right knee sprain and left wrist sprain. It’s unlikely the Cubs pursue bringing him back.

 

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