Chicago Cubs will have to pony up if they want quality arms this winter

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

In less than a week, we’ve seen pretty clearly what the market for starting pitching is going to look like this winter. Perhaps more importantly, though, we’ve seen what it will cost the Chicago Cubs to add multiple quality arms to the rotation this offseason.

This week, we’ve seen the following pitchers either sign in free agency or, in the case of Jose Berrios, ink a long-term contract extension:

  • Andrew Heaney – 1 year, $8.5 million from the Dodgers
  • Eduardo Rodriguez – 5 years, $77 million from the Tigers
  • Jose Berrios – 7 years, $131 million extension with the Blue Jays
  • Noah Syndergaard – 1 year, $21 million from the Angels
  • Justin Verlander – 2 years, $50 million from the Astros
  • Charlie Morton – 1 year, $20 million from the Braves

Now, there are plenty of arms still out there – but it’s already become clear that if the Cubs are going to pursue anyone at or near the top of that group, it’s going to cost them a pretty penny. I’d assume anyone tied to a qualifying offer will probably not be in the team’s crosshairs (AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, namely) – but given what the guys above signed for, I’d imagine Jed Hoyer is going to look to the lesser-hyped names as he seeks to revamp the Chicago rotation.

I touched on a few possibilities earlier this week, including reclamation projects like Dylan Bundy. Those types of additions seem far likelier than someone like Ray or other top-tier arms like Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.

That’s not to say the Chicago Cubs couldn’t make a big splash. If you ask me, they really need to given the lackluster performance of Kyle Hendricks this year. This staff – at least as it currently stands – lacks a true ace. Kevin Gausman makes a ton of sense given his lack of qualifying offer and we’ve already seen Chicago linked to him this offseason, at least to a degree.

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MLBTR pegged the right-hander for a six-year, $138 million deal to return to the Giants this winter – and that definitely makes sense given San Francisco’s payroll flexibility and need for starting pitching. Pairing Gausman with Logan Webb atop the rotation is a solid start – especially after losing both Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani in free agency (assuming they don’t bring both back).

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It’s early in the offseason and we have no idea what impact a new CBA will have on how business is conducted – or how long the likely lockout will last once Dec. 1 hits. But if these recent trends continue, the Cubs’ most pressing need this offseason seems will force ownership to write checks larger than they may have anticipated.