Chicago Cubs can’t afford to wait for a new CBA to make their moves

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Following the Detroit Tigers’ signing of Chicago Cubs target Eduardo Rodriguez, it seemed the market was heating up before the CBA expires in December. Well, Tuesday only reinforced that notion. The Angels pried Noah Syndergaard away from the Mets despite a qualifying offer and Toronto gave Jose Berrios a massive seven-year extension.

With qualifying offers in place, the Cubs likely weren’t landing either pitcher, but the signings make it clear that the CBA isn’t completely dissuading teams from making moves. Key targets the Cubs should be in on are at risk of coming off the board early. The team can’t afford to sit on their hands until the league gets a deal in place.

Already, a few prime targets have indicated a willingness to sign pre-CBA. Both Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are on that list, particularly for aggressive teams that can afford it. Of more interest to the Cubs, though, is the starting pitching market which has now seen three potential targets (Rodriguez, Syndergaard and Andrew Heaney) all take early contracts from teams ready to pounce. The exact guys the Cubs are looking at, those with good peripherals or a high upside, are being picked up by savvy teams looking to come away with something before a post-CBA rush.

The Chicago Cubs are in a position to strike early in the offseason

The Cubs can absolutely afford to be among the most aggressive teams early on. With such low payroll commitments coming into 2022 and even fewer long-term commitments, they have the room to act even should the new CBA drop the luxury tax threshold to the $180 million soft cap proposed by MLB.

Pitching, again, is a big concern and the Cubs have the power right now to sway an arm they like – say, Jon Gray since the Rockies bafflingly didn’t give him a qualifying offer – with a short term, high AAV deal. If they’re truly committed to improving, it’s a golden opportunity to capitalize on a thinned market as more CBA-wary teams wait out the new deal.

Moreover, with Jed Hoyer’s commitment to spending intelligently, nothing fits that mold more than acting now rather than fighting other teams in a frantic bidding war right before the start of the season. Perhaps they even see a guy like Seager, a projected target for big spenders like the Yankees, and jump on his willingness to sign early with a good offer. Maybe it costs a bit more, but you avoid duking it out with a big spender who can outbid the Cubs with full certainty post-CBA.

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The Cubs have both the means and the motive to attack before the CBA is up. It’s better to catch other teams wary of a work stoppage napping than to take the small chance that a rules change will clarify your offseason. They know what needs to be done and they shouldn’t wait to do it.