Sports

3 Free Agents Cubs Should Target This Offseason

A hat and glove sit on the bench in the Chicago Cubs dugout during the Cubs game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 26, 2017 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

 

The Chicago Cubs had a weird 2021 in which they started as contenders and ended up rebuilding.

The rebuild phase, however, was expected to be just for the trade deadline: now, the Cubs want to be relevant again.

It’s a tall task, but they may actually pull it off if they play their cards right.

Here are some players that can help Chicago achieve its objectives.

 

3. Andrew Chafin

Andrew Chafin already knows what it’s like to succeed in a Cubs uniform.

Last year, he started the year with the Cubs, and had a 2.06 ERA and 0.839 WHIP in 39.1 innings.

He was then traded to the Oakland Athletics, where he had a 1.53 ERA and 1.057 WHIP in 29.1 innings.

His overall numbers were impressive: a 1.83 ERA, 0.932 WHIP, 2.9 bWAR in 68.2 innings.

He entered the market after rejecting a $5.25 million mutual option.

He is reportedly looking for a multi-year deal.

Chafin has always been solid, so if Chicago wants to fight for the postseason, he is a known commodity.

With Codi Heuer, Rowan Wick, Keegan Thompson, and a few other hurlers, they do have an interesting bullpen, but more help is needed.

We know that Chafin will fit right in.

 

2. Jon Gray

It’s clear that, if the Cubs want to go somewhere in 2022, they need pitching badly.

They understand this, and made their first major move by claiming Wade Miley off waivers.

Miley is at least a top-two starter in the Cubs as things stand, but the club needs more than just him and Kyle Hendricks.

Justin Steele and Alec Mills had ups and downs, and Adbert Alzolay is still somewhat inconsistent.

Adding Jon Gray, a free agent who pitched his whole career in Colorado, can pay major dividends.

He is one of the youngest free agent pitchers at 30, and his right arm is electric.

He has a career 4.59 ERA, in part because he calls Coors Field home.

However, his 3.91 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) tells a different story.

Cubs starters had a 5.27 ERA (27th in MLB), and were 26th in earned runs allowed and 28th in WHIP.

Improving the rotation is a must, if they want to compete.

Gray can be an asset, and won’t cost as much as Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman, or Marcus Stroman.

 

1. Michael Conforto

At this point in time, Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel, and Patrick Wisdom showed enough down the stretch to be considered members of the starting lineup.

Willson Contreras is firmly entrenched as the starting catcher, and Nick Madrigal will be there to handle second.

Ian Happ, with a solid second half, also showed he can produce.

This leaves two spots in which the Cubs can look for upgrades via free agency or trades: shortstop (currently held, tentatively, by Nico Hoerner) and right field (Jason Heyward).

Hoerner is young and can be a good contact bat.

Heyward, on the other hand, is getting up there in age (32) and slumped badly in 2021, hitting .214/.280/.347.

A good outfielder like Michael Conforto can surely help.

Conforto is a career .255/.356/.468 hitter and averaged 29.3 home runs per season between 2017 and 2019.

He didn’t have a good 2021 but is a proven performer, and is a young free agent at 29 years old.

Depending on the price tag, Chicago should be very interested in Conforto.



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