What will the Cubs focus on as free agency finally resumes?

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Chicago Cubs / Codi Heuer
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The bullpen looks likely to be a main area of focus for the Cubs

Even prior to the news that Codi Heuer would miss the 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Cubs’ bullpen faced its fair share of questions.

Remember – last July, Hoyer traded his team’s three best relievers: closer Craig Kimbrel and late-inning weapons Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin. Those moves left the relief corps in shambles, with a merry-go-round of young guys eating innings as the team limped its way to 91 losses and a fourth-place finish in the NL Central.

Since then, the picture hasn’t gotten any more pleasant – and you can bet there are multiple relievers on the Cubs’ board right now. Both Chafin and Tepera are free agents and candidates to return to the North Side, but will be hot commodities across the league.

Internally, Rowan Wick seems to have the inside track on the closer’s job, but he’s far from a proven presence in that role. Other guys looking at a role in the pen could include Manny Rodriguez, Michael Rucker, Adbert Alzolay (assuming he’s the odd man out in the rotation), Keegan Thompson, Scott Effross and Brad Wieck.

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While several of those guys could be key contributors, I don’t know if I’m comfortable betting on any of them to be go-to options given the overall short track record behind them. This, at least in my opinion, will be Chicago’s top priority in the days to come because we already know what will happen without a revamped bullpen because we bore witness to it last summer.