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Epstein says no to free agency

9/17/2013

MILWAUKEE -- It should come as no surprise but just in case you weren't sure, don't expect the Chicago Cubs to be major players in free-agency come this offseason.

Team president Theo Epstein says they simply aren't ready to add in that way.

"I don't think we're going to get where we need to be through free agency for the short term," he said Tuesday.

The Cubs signed pitcher Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal last winter so clearly Epstein isn't completely opposed to it. But the Cubs aren't ready to win and that means they aren't ready to identify free-agent needs.

Actually, the needs are too many to identify in just one area.

"Given the needs that we have, and where we are, and the likely price tags on the market I don't think we're going to have the ability to add multiple impact pieces in free agency," Epstein said.

Epstein indicated there won't be extra revenue coming in from any Wrigley Field renovation just yet -- but that isn't the major issue here. Unless something falls into their lap, the Cubs are going to add when they are ready to win. It makes sense.

"That would be nice if we could find the right guy and the right contract," Epstein said of obtaining a leadoff man. "It may be in the cards for us, but we have to be prepared for the fact it may not."

In other words, the Cubs aren’t going to go all out for a free agent. Epstein dismissed any notion of back-loading contracts for fear it could hamper the Cubs when they're ready to win. Flexibility is the key for the organization, and with so many prospects on the horizon, they need to know who's going to make it and who's not -- and then act accordingly.

"It is a very viable and sometimes attractive way to add talent," Epstein said. "Right now, given our situation on a lot of different fronts, it's not a cure to our ills."

Eventually, new revenues from the Wrigley renovation will be real and the Cubs will have a better idea of their specific needs as they get closer to winning as an organization. At that point there will be no excuses for not striking a deal with the right player. Just don't expect it for 2014.

"We're not necessarily in a position to do that," Epstein said.

Not yet, at least.