#1: Toronto Blue Jays
Easily the scariest team for the Cubs right now is still the Toronto Blue Jays. General Manager Ross Atkins is looking for a big move to keep the team in line with its rivals in Baltimore and New York which only seem to keep improving. Ohtani seemed bound for Canada at one point earlier this offseason, but, after that was revealed to be untrue, the pressure is on more than ever to get a superstar. Namely, Bellinger.
With no Ohtani, Soto, or Yamamoto coming to the North Side, Bellinger is the only remaining impact bat available that's realistic for the Cubs. His comeback player of the year campaign - .307/.356/.525, 26 home runs - was instrumental to the team reaching 83 wins and staying in the wild card race until the very end. As we've said time and again, he needs to be the top target for this team if they're serious about meaningfully improving. That naturally positions the Jays as their biggest threat considering they've been labeled the favorite for Bellinger's services earlier this offseason.
Even after re-signing Kevin Kiermaier, there's no reason to believe that Toronto isn't fully committed to a Bellinger pursuit. Bob Nightengale and other reporters were quick to note that the signing means little about their interest in landing the center fielder/first baseman, though it may signal a lack of confidence that they'll come out on top. They still figure to be the greatest threat that could thwart a reunion with Bellinger this offseason. Add to that their pursuit of starting pitching and reported interest in other potential Cubs targets like Hoskins, Justin Turner, and J.D. Martinez, and the Jays are poised to be a frequent competitor for free agents big and small.
With still so much competition out there in free agency and trades, the Cubs will have to learn to get a little uncomfortable and flex their financial might sooner or later to set themselves up well for next year. That's not to say they need to overpay like crazy to lock down their targets, but they can't afford to be reasonably outbid at this point on the players that could help them finally emerge from their rebuild. That's easier said than done, but like the chances of a good offseason, it's far from impossible yet for Hoyer to pull off.