What the Chicago Cubs Did Not Do in Free Agency This Offseason

Although there’s probably just a little bit extra to come back (a top-shelf lefty reliever? and/or simply some aid depth?), I’m typically happy with the offseason the Chicago Cubs have had up to now. They’ve signed the second most free brokers in MLB (8), have dedicated the fifth most {dollars} total ($305.5M), and are already getting credit score for a “sneaky” good offseason.

Whether or not it is sufficient is a special query totally. I’m simply saying what they’ve performed has been fairly strong.

THAT SAID, I do not need us to overlook what the Cubs did have not performed That nonetheless stands out to me as a part of the offseason dialogue, and I simply need to lay it on the market for posterity. Hopefully, this is not one thing we now have to return to a few months into the 2023 MLB season, however I would like it written down someplace simply in case the selections they made – the issues they did not do – wind up wanting like errors, and we do have to come back again for some additional thought.

The Shortstops

The Chicago Cubs signed free agent shortstop Dansby Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million deal. That was the least expensive of the 4 free agent shortstop offers signed this offseason, largely as a result of Swanson was thought of quantity 4 in the group of the 4 large free agent shortstops. The Cubs by no means appeared like a real risk to signal Trea Turner (11-years, $300M), so I’m not shedding an excessive amount of sleep over that one. And the Carlos Correa saga (six-years, $200M) was difficult sufficient that I can kinda brush it off, as nicely. So actually this comes right down to Xander Bogaerts (11-years, $280M).

The Cubs had been critically in on Bogaerts this offseason, together with a recruiting try from Jon Lester, and had been even contemplating signing each him *and* Swanson. So their determination that $280M was too wealthy for his or her blood was a authentic inflection level. The Cubs appear severe about prioritizing protection this offseason, and Swanson definitely helps extra on that entrance, however their offense is missing thump and Bogaerts is a greater wager for rather more affect with the bat.

We will not know instantly whether or not this was the proper or unsuitable alternative, however that is one thing I’ll be watching (and doubtlessly judging the entrance workplace on) all through this and the subsequent few seasons.

The Starting Pitchers

The Chicago Cubs signed two beginning pitchers this offseason. Their large addition was Jameson Taillon (four-years, $68M). Taillon obtained the fifth greatest total dedication amongst all free agent starters this offseason. And his three greatest/most real looking alternate options had been Chris Bassitt (three-years, $63M), Taijuan Walker (four-years, $72M), and many others Kodai Seng (five-years, $75M).

Each of Walker, Bassitt, and Senga had been reportedly on the Cubs’ radar at numerous factors, with Senga the one who stands out the most. It’s doable Senga all the time needed solely a sure-fire contender, and he undoubtedly comes with danger, however $75 million is not a very costly deal. If he winds up being an absolute stud, the Cubs ought to most likely be kicking themselves for not providing extra. Playing for a contender is nice and all, however an additional $10-15M would possibly tip the scales. Ultimately, at this stage, it appears like the Cubs had their goal they usually particularly needed Taillon. In different phrases, it would not really feel like they cheaped out. I feel they obtained the man they needed most.

The Cubs additionally re-signed Drew Smyly (two-years, $19M). There had been quite a few free agent alternate options in this vary, however some got here with danger (Noah Syndergaard), others had been by no means actually an possibility (Clayton Kershaw), and others had been by no means ever going to occur (Jose Quintana). By distinction, I do assume Sean Manaea (two-years, $25M), Andrew Heaney (two-years, $25M), and many others Nathan Eovaldi (two-years, $34M) provided some authentic upside for barely dearer value tags. So we’ll need to be careful on they could have whiffed at this stage.

With that stated, I feel the familiarity and potential upside with Smyly was just a little too apparent to miss. The Cubs might have even gotten a slight low cost if this was the place he needed to be.

The Catchers

Catcher is arguably the greatest doubtlessly missed alternative of the offseason for the Cubs. They might have re-signed Willson Contreraswho left for the Cardinals (five-years, $85M), they might have tried tougher to commerce for A’s catcher Sean Murphy, who was dealt to the Braves for … barely something and instantly signed a team-friendly extension. And they made an an identical provide to the one Christian Vazquez finally signed with the Twins (3-years, $30M).

I do not assume they ever needed to re-sign Contreras for variations in catching philosophy. So no matter. But their unwillingness to up the provide over what the Twins gave Vázquez feels eerily like these oft-repeated considerations about an identical presents being generated from homogenous player-value methods.

Instead, they signed Tucker Barnhart (two-years, $6.5M), who can provide the protection and the gentle elements (along with Yan Gomes), however largely alerts an abandonment of hope for any offensive contributions from the catcher spot. This one bugs me, as a result of they clearly needed Vázquez however did not do what they wanted to do to get it performed.

First Base/DH

The Cubs signed each Eric Hosmer (one-year, MLB minimal) and Trey Mancini (two-years, $14M) to extraordinarily inexpensive offers this offseason. And each make sense given what was left on the market and the presence of Matt Mervis. However, the Cubs did reportedly make a big provide to Jose Abreuwho finally signed with the Astros (three-years, $60M).

Abreu is a MUCH higher shot at delivering the kind of energy and total offensive manufacturing the Cubs lineup remains to be missing even after signing Hosmer and Mancini. Although I do perceive that he obtained much more than individuals had been anticipating.

Then once more, the Cubs reportedly provided $20M AAV over two years and Abreu wound up getting $19.5M AAV over three years, so it isn’t like there was THAT rather more to go. Given his connection to Chicago, you’d wish to assume that they had a shot, whilst a not-so-obvious contender. But this one simply appears like a darn greater than a large mistake.

Center Field

Unless you had been prepared to spend a BOATLOAD of cash for Brandon Nimmo (8-years, $162M), there’s not an excessive amount of remorse in the middle subject marketplace for the Cubs. I’m undecided that deal was notably smart, although I do like Nimmo in normal.

Instead, Chicago signed Cody Bellinger (one-year, $17.5M) to a fairly costly deal, albeit over only one 12 months. Given his velocity, high quality middle subject protection, left-handed bat, and skill to play first base, I feel the Cubs truly made the proper name right here. If he bounces means again (unlikely), nice! The Cubs hit a grand slam. If not, his flooring will nonetheless be precious and he’ll be gone in time for a few of the Cubs prospects (Brennen Davis, Alexander Canario, Pete Crow-Armstrong) to emerge.

Other choices included Kevin Kiermaier (one-year, $9M) or Kevin Pillar (1-year, $3M minor league deal). It was an exceptionally skinny market. I like the route the Cubs took.

In The Bullpen

Like I stated, I do not assume the Cubs are performed right here but. But up to now, the large addition to the Cubs bullpen is right-hander Brad Boxberger (one-year, $2.8M). There are/had been a DOZEN potential alternate options, however I truly belief the Cubs’ judgment on bullpen constructing. If they favored Boxberger, I imagine there was an excellent motive. And the guys they’ve signed to minor league offers might wind up contributors, too. Still extra work to be performed, however I do not assume I’ll sweat this one fairly a lot.

Conclusion

Signed: Dansby Swanson, Jameson Taillon, Drew Smyly, Tucker Barnhart, Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, Cody Bellinger, Brad Boxberger

Passed Over/Missed Out: Xander Bogaerts, Kodai Senga, Chris Bassitt, Andrew Heaney, Sean Manaea, Nathan Eovaldi, Christian Vázquez, Jose Abreu, Kevin Kiermaier, Kevin Pillar, and a dozen potential relievers.

Including the value tags, I feel I’m completely satisfied the place the Cubs landed with Swanson, Smyly, Bellinger, and Boxberger. But I feel they could have some remorse skipping over Kodai Senga, and particularly Christian Vázquez. Jury is out on Abreu, Heaney, and Bogaerts. It’s doable these appear to be large whiffs, however there’s loads of danger there, as nicely.

While we all the time keep in mind to guage the strikes the Cubs have made in a specific offseason, it is simply as necessary to recollect all the things they did not do. And this offseason, the Cubs made quite a lot of strikes, however there have been additionally quite a lot of potential strikes they did not make.

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