Addressing the bullpen remains a need that the Chicago Cubs must address before the start of the season and a failure to do so should put Jed Joyer immediately on the hot seat.
Hoyer placed a band-aid on the Cubs bullpen last season with the additions of Brad Boxberger and Michael Fulmer failing to live up to the expectation that the team has previously set with their ability to rehabilitate the careers of veteran relievers.
The argument can be made that despite the failures of Boxberger and Fulmer last season, the bullpen was an overall success for the long term considering the emergence of Adbert Alzolay as the team's closer and Mark Leiter Jr and Julian Merryweather as late-inning guys.
There was an over-reliance on those three pitchers last season and that is something that the Cubs must avoid this season. The Cubs have watched the top end of the free-agent market pass them by as they sat on the sidelines while Josh Hader, Matt Moore, and Robert Stephenson found new deals but the team may be preparing to make a move.
The New York Mets in addition to the Red Sox are another big market team that is interested in Ryne Stanek. If it reaches the point where there is a bidding war for Stanek, it's almost a near-certainty that the Cubs will bow out.
Having said that, Stanek is nearly the exact profile of the type of pitcher that the Cubs need to add to their bullpen in that he features a high-velocity fastball and the ability to miss bats when things are going right.
Stanek saw a dramatic increase in his flyball percentage, 55%, during the 2023 season and that likely led to his inflated ERA of 4.09. Compare that to 2022, flyball percentage of 39.7% and a 1.15 ERA, and it's possible the Cubs feel they can fix the flaw in his approach last season.