With the Cubs not having many large, long-term contracts left on their books, and with Alfonso Soriano entering the final year of his eight-year, $136 million dollar deal in 2014, next winter might be the time for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to add more impact players in free agency as they enter Year Three of their regime. Several major league sources, including an American League front-office executive told me tonight that they fully expect the Cubs to be involved with some of the top free agents at the conclusion of this season, with Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury possibly at the top of their wish list.

In addition, the 2015 free agent class is not loaded with star quality players, leading to industry speculation that Epstein and Hoyer could look to add a couple of impact players this coming offseason, in addition to locking up their own young core players such as Jeff Samardzija, after spending $41 million \to sign first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a seven-year deal that potentially could be worth $73 million over nine years if all of the options are exercised and the escalators in the deal are reached.

Ellsbury, who was drafted by Epstein and Co. in 2005 and has had a solid career--despite dealing with some injury problems--is expected to be the top position player available this coming offseason after Robinson Cano, who most observers expect to stay in New York. Ellsbury's best year in a Red Sox uniform was in 2011, when he batted .321 and hit 32 home runs to go along with 105 RBI's. In 2012 he appeared in just 74 games, missing significant time with a shoulder injury, and hit just .271 with four home runs. This season Ellsbury is batting .259 with one homer and 13 RBI's, but is leading the American League in stolen bases and is still considered an elite defensive player who also has a Gold Glove on his resume.