The Chicago Cubs need the bullpen this off-season with the likelihood that the team wants to add another option for the backend to go along with Adbert Alzolay, Mark Leiter Jr, and Julian Merryweather.
It remains to be seen how active the Cubs will be in the free-agent market for relief pitchers as Jed Hoyer has often shied away from multi-year deals for relievers. That philosophy would take the Cubs out of the market for a top-end reliever such as Josh Hader, but speculation around Hader has continued in the event that there is a shift in philosophy.
An interesting option may have just popped up on the trade market. Jeff Passan previewed the Winter Meetings in his latest for ESPN (Subscription Required) while also mentioning that the Cleveland Guardians may be open to dealing All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase.
Clase has led the American League in saves during each of the past two seasons and signed a team-friendly extension with the Guardians before the 2022 season. Clase has the potential to be under team control through 2028 with there being no season where his AAV exceeds $10MM.
Given how affordable Clase is for multiple seasons, the asking price is likely going to be high. Not to mention, his 2023 saw some concerning regression in his strikeout numbers as his strikeout percentage fell from 28.4% in 2022 to 21.2% last season. Though, with an ERA+ of 130 last season, there is still a ton to like in Clase's profile as a closer.
Having said all this, Clase does not seem like the type of trade that Hoyer will make this off-season. There is no doubt that the Cubs will be open to moving their top prospects this off-season but that likely would be for a superstar talent such as Juan Soto.