Who are some potential options for the Chicago Cubs when free agency opens?
The Chicago Cubs have less than 50 games remaining in the regular season. Their record has fans already looking towards next season. It appears that the Cubs will be ready to spend once the offseason rolls around. The front office will be looking to continue building the next core. Their biggest deals from the last free agency period included Seiya Suzuki and Marcus Stroman.
Tom Ricketts’ latest comments indicate the Cubs may be prepared to shell out some big contracts again this offseason.
Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told @JesseRogersESPN that the way the Cubs have played this season is “not the type of baseball Cubs fans deserve” and that the team plans “to be very active” in free agency this offseason.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) August 11, 2022
The Cubs’ starting rotation for 2023 is still slightly unclear. Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson have proven to be effective starting pitchers. Assumably, the rotation will include those two and Marcus Stroman. It’s also unclear whether the longest-tenured Cub, Kyle Hendricks, will fit into next year’s rotation.
There are plenty of free agent starting pitchers this offseason. Many of which have the potential to break the bank. Jacob DeGrom, who has a player option, is valued above $40 million going into this offseason. If the Chicago Cubs are unable to land a big-name option like Carlos Rodon, Noah Syndergaard, or even Jacob DeGrom; there are countless other solid starting pitching options this offseason. Some potential options may include Jake Odorizzi, Tyler Anderson, Drew Smyly, and Andrew Heaney. Cubs’ pitching should improve next season between Thompson, Steele, Stroman, and any big splashes they make this offseason. And we can’t forget about prospects Caleb Kilian and Hayden Wesneski who are currently in AAA Iowa.
The secondary options listed above aren’t expected to command massive contracts. If the Cubs are unable to land one of those high-dollar options, the #1 spot in the Chicago Cubs rotation will be up for grabs in 2023.
One other option that must be noted is Kodai Senga. Senga is a 29-year-old right-handed pitcher who has been playing professionally in Japan since 2012. His career ERA stands at 2.45 and it’s expected that he’ll draw interest from several MLB teams during free agency. Of course, the Cubs signed Seiya Suzuki out of Japan last offseason which makes it easy to speculate that Suzuki can give the Cubs an upper hand in recruiting somebody like Kodai Senga. Especially since it was made known that former Cub and fellow countryman Yu Darvish helped sell Seiya on the Cubs.
Sources: RHP Kodai Senga of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks is expected to consider @MLB contract offers this winter. Senga, 29, starred at the ’17 @WBCBaseball and is 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA this year. He is eligible for international free agency and won’t need to be posted. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 5, 2022
When it comes to position players, the Cubs will have plenty of options. Every team would love to acquire the clear leader of the AL MVP race Aaron Judge in free agency. For the Cubs, it’s been reported that they intend to pursue a top shortstop this offseason. That comes with the possibility of moving Nico Hoerner back to second base or elsewhere.
Some of the top free agent shortstops include Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, and Carlos Correa. If the Cubs can’t land one of these big names, Cubs fans wouldn’t mind seeing Nico Hoerner remain the everyday shortstop. The Cubs seem to be in more desperate need of corner infielders. Switch-hitting first basemen Josh Bell will be a very intriguing option. The consistent veteran Trey Mancini could also be a candidate for a long-term first baseman.
Outside of Nolan Arenado, there is a shortage of relatively young, big-money options at third base in this free agent class. There’s a possibility that the Cubs could keep Patrick Wisdom as an option for third base. Although he currently leads the Cubs in RBIs, his strikeout percentage has been alarming. It’s also easy to speculate that the team could slide one of the aforementioned shortstops over the third base.
At this point, the Cubs seem to be loaded in the minor leagues when it comes to outfielders. Three of the Cubs’ top five prospects are all outfielders. This includes Brennan Davis, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Kevin Alcantara. With the arrival of Christopher Morel and Seiya Suzuki, the Cubs may not be in dire need of outfielders. Not to mention Ian Happ, who has one more year of team control. If the Cubs do decide to add outfielders via free agency, some of the more intriguing options include Michael Brantley, Andrew Benintendi, and Wil Myers.
Of course, fans will be on the lookout for an extension for catcher Willson Contreras. Contreras was expected to be traded at the deadline yet remained with the team. If the Cubs do not bring back Contreras in free agency, they will gain a compensatory draft pick.
In recent years, the Chicago Cubs have assembled tremendous bullpens. Sadly, these talented bullpens were dismantled by the trade deadline. After missing time with Tommy John, Codi Heuer and Ethan Roberts will likely return to the bullpen next season. There are also plenty of big-name relievers that will hit the open market. Closer Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets is likely to obtain the biggest contract among them. There are plenty of directions the Cubs could go in. Some of the more intriguing names include Chad Green, Taylor Rogers, and Trevor May.
Adding low-risk/high-reward players to the bullpen has been the Cubs’ bread and butter in recent years. Some of those options may include players like Archie Bradley, Seth Lugo, and Mychal Givens. Mychal Givens is one of several free agent relievers who has been in the Cubs’ bullpen in the past two seasons. With so many former Cub relievers in this free agency class, the Cubs will likely make a reunion or two this offseason.
There are plenty of options for the Chicago Cubs to consider this offseason. The names listed here only scratch the surface. It will be interesting to see how the Cubs spend in free agency and who they acquire to be a part of the future core.
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