3 early free agent busts the Chicago Cubs were smart to stay away from

Jed Hoyer and the front office stuck to their plan and avoided some major missteps in free agency last winter.
Colorado Rockies v Pittsburgh Pirates
Colorado Rockies v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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On the heels of signing Craig Counsell to the richest managerial contract in MLB history, Chicago Cubs fans expected some major dollars to be thrown around in free agency. Jed Hoyer made two major moves, the first being the signing of Shota Imanaga, which has gone better than anyone could have anticipated, and won the waiting game with Cody Bellinger, bringing last year's NL Comeback Player of the Year back into the fold.

There were other additions, including veteran reliever Hector Neris and Michael Busch, who came over along with Yency Almonte from the Dodgers via trade. But, by and large, the team avoided long-term commitments and stuck to its usual approach of flyers on a ton of fringe arms and running it back with a roster that missed the postseason by just one game last fall.

Meanwhile, several guys connected to the Cubs in rumors last offseason have crashed and burned in the early going. That's not to say Hoyer pulled all the right levers by any means, but things could be worse - especially when it comes to these 3 players.

Aroldis Chapman has been a total disaster in the Pirates bullpen

Inked to a one-year, $10.5 million deal last winter, Aroldis Chapman was supposed to team up with All-Star David Bednar to give the young Pittsburgh Pirates a powerful 1-2 punch in the late innings. Instead, the veteran left-hander has looked like a shell of his former self, battling a sky-high walk rate and diminished velocity on his once lethal fastball.

Chapman has lost more than 2 MPH on his four-seamer this year, which hasn't prevented him from ranking in the 99th percentile in strikeout rate. The problem has been his walk rate, which ranks in the bottom 1 percent of the league. He's walking more than 11 batters per nine, more than double his career average.

The Cubs could undoubtedly use more answers in the bullpen, but Chapman isn't the presence he once was. He's been all over the place and you're flipping a coin every time he takes the mound as far as what the outcome might be. Hoyer was right to pass on his former closer last winter as the lefty's early-season struggles may signal the beginning of the end.