The 2023 MLB offseason has been fun, but the Chicago Cubs have been relatively quiet. Chicago has made just one real move after signing free agent Jorge Alfaro to a minor league contract. This means the Cubs’ Christmas wish list is still pretty full.
Coming into the season, the Cubs had multiple needs to fill in free agency. They lost Marcus Stroman, Cody Bellinger, and Jeimer Candelario to free agency. Candelario has already found his new home, so the Cubs need to pick up the slack if they want to fill the needs they have.
Some of the team needs for the Cubs include a power bat, third/first baseman, center field, and pitching (both starters and relievers). There are plenty of players still on the market, and the Cubs need to pounce on the talent left. With that said, here are three items on the Cubs’ Christmas wish list for the rest of the 2023 offseason.
1. Pitching, Pitching, and More Pitching
The Cubs need to be better on the mound in 2024, specifically in the bullpen. Chicago had 57 save opportunities in 2023, and they converted just 35 of them. That is 22 blown saves on the season for Chicago. The Cubs missed the playoffs by one game last year, and the bullpen was the main reason. Hector Neris would be a fantastic addition to the bullpen if the Cubs want to add some late-inning help.
Last season, there was a long stretch in which the Cubs only had one left-handed pitcher in their bullpen. Adding one or two would be crucial considering how important matchups are. Bringing back Aroldis Chapman after a comeback year in 2023 could be an option, but his age could play a role in signing him. Josh Hader is another player who would look great on the Northside, but he might demand more money than Jed Hoyer is willing to pay. Wandy Peralta and Aaron Loup are two very realistic lefties the Cubs could grab. No matter what they do, Chicago needs to pick up a lefty reliever.
As for starting pitching, the Cubs seem to be content unless they get a deal. Justin Steele, Jameson Taillon, and Kyle Hendricks are the three hurlers locked into the rotation, but the other two spots are up for grabs. Chicago has a couple of in-house options to consider for the spots, but it would not hurt to get one through free agency. Chicago has been linked to Shota Imanaga, but Jordan Montgomery should be at the top of their wish list with the success he was a part of last year.
2. A Cody Bellinger Reunion
As mentioned, the Cubs need someone to man center field, and someone to hit for some power. Well, Cody Bellinger did both for the Cubs last season. Bellinger, in his first season at Wrigley Field, hit .307 with an OPS of .881. Along with that, Bellinger hit 26 home runs, 29 doubles, and drove in 97. What was very impressive about Bellinger’s season is he struck out just 87 times in 499 plate appearances. This performance landed him the NL Comeback Player of the Year award.
The Cubs were once the favorites to land Bellinger this offseason, but it seems the odds have shifted. Nonetheless, the Cubs should continue to pursue him. They could fill two of their needs with the signing of Bellinger. Along with hitting for power and manning the center field position, Bellinger can also play first base. Pete Crow-Armstrong is a promising prospect who could play the position, but Bellinger is better suited for it while PCA acclimates to the MLB level of play.
The only problem with Bellinger is going to be his contract. The 28-year-old is seeking $200 million or more, according to Jon Heyman. Whether the Cubs are willing to pay that much remains to be seen, but reuniting with Bellinger would be the best move for the team moving forward.
3. Power Hitting (Jorge Soler/Rhys Hoskins)
The Cubs lacked power last season. Chicago had multiple guys with over 20 homers, but Bellinger was the team-high with 26. If the Cubs can get someone to hit 30+ home runs in a season, they can stick him in the middle of the lineup and watch him drive in runs. Chicago was 15th in home runs and 11th in slugging percentage last season, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
“If [the Cubs] keep waiting on Hoskins, they might miss him too.”@jonmorosi joins #MLBNHotStove to give insight on the market for Rhys Hoskins and reports surrounding Twins trade possibilities. pic.twitter.com/R19fHE7ylI
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 18, 2023
Rhys Hoskins would fill the power role, but he would also fill the need for a first baseman. He is coming off a torn ACL but should be fully healthy once March rolls around. In his last full season with the Phillies, Hoskins hit .246 to go along with 30 home runs and 79 RBI. The RBI number should jump up with the Cubs, as Chicago does a good job getting on base as well. Having someone like Hoskins in the middle of the order would immediately help the Cubs be more successful in 2024.
Jorge Soler actually came up with the Cubs. He has the ability to really launch the baseball.
Soler hits home runs like this one often. He broke out in 2019 with 48 home runs with the Kansas City Royals, and he hit 36 last season with the Miami Marlins. Soler is going to hit home runs, no matter what team he is on. This is the kind of power the Cubs need in their lineup.
As mentioned, the Cubs have plenty of needs to fill the rest of the offseason. However, their Christmas wish list should have these players at the top.
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