Given the Chicago Cubs' payroll situation going into next season, it's hard to imagine Jed Hoyer stepping foot in the deep end of the pool in terms of free-agent pitching. With Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks expected to be around next season, as well as the need to bring bat a high-end bat in the form of Cody Bellinger or somebody to replace his production, the Cubs' spending begins to be tighter than we otherwise imagined at the midway point of the 2023 season.
Unless, of course, the Cubs decide it's time to blow through the luxury tax, which makes sense given where their farm is at, it may prove wiser to stick with the productive pitchers who still have plenty left in the tank but aren't clear-cut aces year in and year out. Let's take a look at three of those starting pitchers that the Cubs may target who can help the team succeed but not necessarily break the bank.
3 pitchers in the Cubs' range - 3. Sonny Gray
Sonny Gray has been excellent with the Minnesota Twins the last two seasons, but really, he's been on a great stretch the previous five years. Aside from 2021, when he recorded a 4.19 ERA, Gray has averaged a mark of 3.22 since 2019 but a mere 3.08 and 2.79 ERA the last two years since signing up to play ball in Minnesota. This season, Gray earned his third All-Star honor, recording 184 innings.
For the Cubs, Gray instantly slots toward the front of the starting rotation. Entering his age-34 season, it's hard to envision a long-term deal getting done. The Athletic (subscription required) recently agreed, tabbing the 11-year veteran at three years, $64.0M. At that price, if Gray continues doing anything like what he did these past two seasons, It could be enough to get the starting rotation over the hump. These are the medium-risk, high-upside contracts the front office will target this winter.