3 way too early 2025 free agent targets for the Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs will have more payroll flexibility after this season, potentially allowing them to make a run at some top-tier free agents next offseason

Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One
Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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The 2024 MLB season is upon us, and the Chicago Cubs look poised to compete for an NL Central title and make the postseason if all goes well. But there are intriguing free agents set to hit the open market next offseason and the Cubs should be in on the negotiations to bolster their core players.

The team will have a decent amount of money to play with too, with the contracts of Kyle Hendricks ($16.5 million), Drew Smyly ($10.5 million), Trey Mancini ($7 million), and Tucker Barnhart ($3.25 million) all expiring. So here's a way-too-early look at some free agents the Cubs should consider targeting next offseason after shedding all that payroll.

1. RHP Corbin Burnes

The Cubs are arguably in a better position to sign former Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes than anyone else in the league. Until he got traded to the Baltimore Orioles this offseason, Burnes spent his entire professional career in Milwaukee under manager Craig Counsell. Ever the roster wizard, Counsell oversaw Burnes' transformation from a little-known bullpen arm, to one of the most formidable starting pitchers in the game today.

As long as the Orioles don't complete a contract extension, Burnes is set to reach free agency next offseason when he will be 30 years old. With Counsell now the manager of the Cubs, his presence in Chicago will undoubtedly factor into his decision if the Cubs make him an offer. And they absolutely should.

So long as Burnes continues his ace-level dominance, he will command a mega-deal worth north of $150 million. The Cubs need to reach into the pocketbook for this one because Burnes would instantly transform the pitching staff and slot in at number 1.

Possible Cubs 2025 rotation:

1. RHP Corbin Burnes

2. LHP Justin Steele

3. RHP Jameson Taillon

4. LHP Shota Imanaga

5. LHP Jordan Wicks

Burnes' impeccable command, devastating cutter, and high strikeout percentage would be the perfect compliment to Justin Steele's groundball-inducing repertoire. And with Cade Horton likely making his way to the majors this season, the Cubs could be looking at one of the best starting rotations in the game a year from now.