The Cubs weren't very active last winter and the moves they made were relatively safe. They placed their bets on the likes of Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and David DeJesus so as far as safe bets go, these are about as safe as it gets. Perhaps the Cubs ought to look into more sports betting online ideas to help improve even more.
On November 30, 2011 the Cubs signed DeJesus to a 2-year deal for $10 million. The contract paid him $4.25 million in 2012 and will again pay him the same amount in 2013. The Cubs hold a $6.5 million option for 2015 or they can pay a $1.5 million buyout.
They essentially paid DeJesus to be worth 2 wins over the 2 gauranteed years of the contract. He hit .263/.350/.403 with a .332 wOBA (104 wRC+). DeJesus was coming off a down season in 2011 and the Cubs figured there was a good chance he would improve. He did.
His fWAR was 1.7, rWAR 1.6 and WARP 1.0. If he's close to as good as that in 2013, he'll be worth more than the Cubs paid. It's also likely he'll be dealt at the trade deadline if he's having a good season.
I had expected DeJesus to provide better than average baserunning and defense, but all 3 of the defensive metrics (UZR, DRS, FRAA) were about -4 runs. His UBR was -1. One of the reasons I liked the contract at the time was because the Cubs had a shitty defense for several years and were equally shitty on the bases. I thought for sure he'd help improve the team. The Cubs did improve, but it wasn't because of him.
All it took to sign Paul Maholm was 2 years and $11.25 million. Maholm's greatest asset to the Cubs was what he brought back in return when he was traded to the Braves in July. Overall though, Maholm had a solid season.
Despite a 12.8% HR/FB rate, he posted a 3.67 ERA and a 4.00 FIP over 198 innings. It was the second highest innings total in his career (206.1 in 2008). His fWAR was 2.5, rWAR 1.9 and for some reason WARP wasn't too impressed (0.1 WARP).
In 2011 Johnson had a pretty good season in part-time play. It made the decision of whether or not to re-sign him that much easier and the Cubs gave him only $1.15 million. It was a no-brainer at the time. He's not going to turn a team into a contender, but he's a solid role player.
He had 266 PA in 2011 and 268 in 2012. This past season he hit .290/.337/.398 with a .322 wOBA (99 wRC+). Johnson was once a good fielder, but those days are past him. He's a below average fielder though not a bad one.
The Cubs paid Johnson next to nothing. He had a .347 wOBA at the time of the trade. He produced 1.0 fWAR, 0.8 rWAR and .6 WAR while with the Cubs. He didn't perform too well once he went to Atlanta, but he gave the Cubs a lot more than they paid for.
The front office did well in their free agent signings from a year ago, but they gambled little and as well as the deals turned out, they profited little from them. If Vizcaino can stick as a starter that may change, but most reports I've read say he'll be a reliever at the MLB level.
When you sign players of this caliber, you can't expect to profit too much, but it's better than looking stupid. We can unfortunately expect more of these deals over the next couple of seasons and maybe even longer depending on the farm system.