Anxiety is running high for Chicago Cubs fans as the team still has yet to put pen to paper on a single major league free agent. It's not yet time to panic over Jed Hoyer and company's abilities to land impact players - Cody Bellinger, Rhys Hoskins, Shota Imanaga, Shane Bieber, and other options are still on the table. Crafting a successful offseason is far from impossible yet, though the paths are limited and the room for error is small.
The problem the Cubs face is that there are also a lot of hungry teams still out there who are just as eager to improve their rosters. After missing out on top options like Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, some are more motivated than ever to make a splash and ensure their offseasons are productive. The few teams that have added big are similarly scary as they look to continue pushing the chips in and take up more of the limited options available.
As we prepare to enter 2024, let's look at three of the most dangerous teams the Cubs will have to navigate around in order to make a team that's better than 2023.
#3: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have wasted no time crushing Cubs fans' dreams this offseason, pulling off a string of deals everyone only wishes the Northsiders could pull off. Even after landing Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Tyler Glasnow on lengthy deals, Los Angeles appears to be far from done dealing. Reports have connected them to Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase and former Brewers superstar Josh Hader, two names who have also been linked to the Cubs.
Clase, 25, is locked up for two more years with two pricy club options on top of that. With an excellent career 2.00 ERA and nasty stuff, he'd be the perfect addition to the back end of the Cubs' bullpen, especially if paired in a larger package for either Shane Bieber or Josh Naylor. Hader, similarly, has been on the team's radar, though that move seems less likely considering the contract he will demand. Having the Dodgers kicking the tires on those two, along with other bullpen arms, likely decreases the chances the Northsiders wind up with an impact closer this year to pair with Adbert Alzolay.
It's always a tad terrifying to be fishing in the same waters as the Dodgers. This offseason especially has shown that Andrew Friedman and company will go to any measure to keep the team competitive for years to come. Fortunately, their involvement in the market shouldn't interfere with the Cubs too far beyond the bullpen. Still, they can never be counted out as a major threat to the team's plans considering what they've already accomplished.