As Cubs seek left-handed relief, Will Smith and Andrew Chafin sign one-year deals

Two proven left-handed free agent relievers came off the board this weekend as the market shifts its attention after Shohei Ohtani signed with the Dodgers.

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages

As everything starts to open up following the conclusion of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, the market is finally moving - and we saw a pair of left-handed relievers come off the board this weekend in Will Smith and old friend Andrew Chafin.

Obviously, both of these are worth noting when talking about the Cubs, who not only need help in the bullpen, but direly need to add left-handed relief pieces this winter. Neither of these veterans broke the bank, each landing one-year deals from their new teams with Chafin re-joining the Tigers, with whom he pitched in 2022, and Smith heading to Kansas City.

Joining the Royals will likely spell the end of Smith's impressive three-year championship streak, as he's toed the rubber for the Dodgers, Braves and Rangers during the last three seasons. Looking at his ERA, you might think he took a step backwards in 2023, but FIP and WHIP suggest otherwise. Poised to turn 35 next summer, he gives the Royals a solid bullpen presence who can easily be flipped at the deadline if Kansas City is out of contention come July.

Chafin, who quickly became a fan favorite on the North Side late in 2021, has bounced around the league in recent years, pitching for the Tigers, Athletics, Diamondbacks and Brewers. It's not hard he settled for a one-year pact after a disastrous finish to the year with Milwaukee last summer, but over the last five years, he's quietly been very reliable, evidenced by a 3.30 ERA, 3.35 FIP and 129 ERA+ across 290 appearances.

Cubs in need of established bullpen pieces this offseason

Chicago has always waited out the relief market - at least in the recent past - grabbing guys looking to re-establish their value later on in the winter. But there have been reports Jed Hoyer might be in on some more established arms this offseason, which would necessitate the Cubs getting in the fray earlier than we've come to expect.

Looking at the current depth chart, Drew Smyly could figure into the left-handed relief picture, but that's dependent on the team going out and replacing Marcus Stroman in the rotation. Luke Little got a look late in the season, making 7 scoreless appearances - and probably doing enough to get a long look in camp.