The Chicago Cubs appear to be willing to call the bluff in every negotiation that the team has had this off-season.
The biggest suggestion for that is their stance as it relates to Cody Bellinger. Bellinger's agent, Scott Boras, has been on a media blitz of late while stressing the importance that the 2023 National League Comeback Player of the Year has for the North Siders. With recent reporting suggesting that Bellinger is looking for a deal north of $200MM, the Cubs appear to be daring Boras to find such a deal elsewhere.
It could be a similar approach that the Cubs are having with Rhys Hoskins, another Boras client. While the Cubs are believed to have already discussed different contract structures with Hoskins, another team has emerged as a potential suitor in the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners may also be being used as leverage against the Cubs by the Cleveland Guardians. Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Mariners are interested in trading for Josh Naylor of the Guardians.
Dating back to the Winter Meetings, the Cubs are believed to have been in trade discussions with the Guardians. There has been a sense that the Cubs and Guardians could be discussing a range of trade proposals from a strict one-year rental of starting pitcher Shane Bieber to a larger deal that would also include Naylor and closer Emmanuel Clase.
The lack of progress in trade talks with the Cubs could be leading the Guardians to discuss deals with other teams. The Mariners, in search of offensive improvement, would certainly have an interest in Naylor.
At some point, the Cubs are going to have to act this off-season. This is not an off-season that Jed Hoyer could spin a Daniel Descalco-type signing as being the primary move of the winter.