Cubs not going all-in on free agency makes all the sense in the world

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: It’s not a one-or-done approach when it comes to free agency

One way the window could have stayed open during the Cubs’ most successful run in team history with Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo is if the team had more key prospects that they could continue to call up year after year. They did not because they used them as trade chips to go for it all in 2016 and 2017. As a reminder, the Cubs traded away Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Dylan Cease and more as they pushed their chips to the middle of the table.

Now, however, Jed Hoyer is focused intently on restocking that once-depleted farm system.

As it sits, Brennen Davis, Caleb Kilian and Jordan Wicks, among others, have the opportunity to make an impact at Wrigley within the next two to three years. Following shortly behind, you have the likes of Crow-Armstrong, Hernandez and Ed Howard; in other words, this system could potentially have waves of talent in coming years.

It seems Hoyer sees the error of the previous regime’s ways. There just wasn’t enough left in the farm and the stars we had began to underperform. There isn’t much you can do with that except trade them for everything they were worth, as they did, since they were all on contract years.

Now, the Cubs are loading up on prospects – and when they’re ready, the funds should be there to supplement that group in a significant way via free agency. Take a glance at the 2024 free agent pool as it sits now, keeping in mind the funds the Cubs currently have and the reminder that Jason Heyward’s contract will also be no more:

  • Max Scherzer (Player option)
  • Trevor Bauer (Age 33, UFA)
  • Lance Lynn (Club option, age 34)
  • Aaron Nola (Age 31, UFA)
  • Luis Castillo (Age 31, UFA)
  • Jack Flaherty (Age 29, UFA)
  • Carlos Rodon (Age 31, UFA)
  • Blake Snell (Age 31, UFA)
  • Taijuan Walker (Age 32, UFA)
  • Manny Machado (Age, 29, player option)
  • Rafael Devers (Age 28, UFA)
  • Jose Ramirez (Age 32, UFA)
  • Javier Baez (Age 29, player option)
  • Ketel Marte (Age 28, Club option)
  • Matt Chapman (Age 31, UFA)

That’s just a high-level look at the ’24 class and doesn’t even take into account potential trade chips that will be out there. But wait, it gets better heading into 2025. Check of some of the names available just a year after the mega 2024 class:

  • Max Scherzer, (Age 41, UFA)
  • Gerrit Cole (Age 31, player option)
  • Jacob deGrom (Age 37, UFA)
  • Chris Sale (Age 36, UFA)
  • Zach Wheeler (Age 35, UFA)
  • Corbin Burnes (Age 31, UFA)
  • Brandon Woodruff (Age 32, UFA)
  • Shane Bieber (Age 30, UFA)
  • Walker Buehler (Age 31, UFA)
  • Robbie Ray (Age 30, player option)
  • Juan Soto (Age 27, UFA)
  • Alex Bregman (Age 31, UFA)
  • Pete Alonso (Age 30, UFA)

The list goes on and on. Add a few of these names to the mix and they can help put the Cubs over the top in the not-so-distant future. These lists don’t even mention bullpen arms and closers. These are all elite position players and starting pitchers that, despite some of their ages, could make for intriguing cases in free agency.