Hot off the heels of the Cubs landing Craig Counsell as their next manager, the team could be the most attractable location for top free agents and trade acquisitions. With a wealth of prospects to deal this winter and some money freed up when Marcus Stroman opted out of his deal, the Cubs could make even more splashes in the coming months and I am here for it.
Here are three trade targets that would transform the 2024 Cubs and make them serious competitors.
1. Corbin Burnes
Okay, this may be a bit of a stretch, especially after Milwaukee just lost their golden boy manager to their most formidable division rival. Do I think they are going to turn around and trade their ace to the very same team? No. I am not an idiot and neither are the Brewers. But this is my pie-in-the-sky fantasy so just listen.
We know that Burnes felt slighted by the Brewers way before Craig Counsell left the team. During his arbitration hearing last winter, the team straight up blamed him for not making the playoffs according to what Burnes said to reporters in February.
""Obviously, it's tough to hear. It's tough to take. They're trying to do what they can to win a hearing," Burnes said in Spring Training. "There's no denying that the relationship is definitely hurt from what transpired over the last couple weeks. There's really no way of getting around that.""- ESPN
These words came after the Brewers took the 2021 Cy Young Award winner to a hearing that they eventually won. Burnes wanted $10.75 million while the team eventually gave him $10.01. I think that margin speaks for itself. Ever since this debacle, Burnes has been the subject of trade rumors and it is almost expected that he will be moved especially since extension talks have also been nonexistent.
Burnes would instantly slot into the very top of the Cubs' rotation. Since 2020, Burnes owns a 2.86 ERA with 765 strikeouts (second in MLB), a Cy Young Award, and an ERA title. Perhaps most importantly, Burnes has been able to stay healthy and eat innings the last two years with 202 and 193.2 IP in 2022 and 2023 respectively.
What are the chances that the Brewers trade their ace to the Cubs? Almost zero simply because they are division rivals. But the Cubs could use a pitcher like Burnes, the Brewers are likely going to trade him and the Cubs have the prospect capital to get him. If the Cubs wanted to demoralize an entire fanbase again, make an offer for Burnes.