I took some time to look at some Fangraphs projections for 2024. Looking for offensive stats specifically, it was a stark reminder that the Chicago Cubs need to improve in the power department. Their best offensive production came from Cody Bellinger, a free agent, and Christopher Morel, whose name keeps popping up in trade rumors due to his inability to lock down a position right now.
For home run projections next season, nobody on the Cubs is projected for over 30 home runs, which has yet to be eclipsed by a Cub since 2019 by Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant. Besides home runs, however, the Cubs have just one hitter in wRC+ above 115 in Seiya Suzuki. Take a look at the top five in wRC+ for Cubs projections heading into next season:
Seiya Suzuki - 118 wRC+
Ian Happ - 112 wRC+
Christopher Morel - 110 wRC+
Nico Hoerner - 105 wRC+
Dansby Swanson - 101 wRC+
Bellinger's 134 wRC+ last season is a significant loss heading into next season if they can't bring him back to Chicago. There will have to be a production that needs to be replaced. There still are viable hitters available; Bellinger fills a critical need by being able to play 1B/CF so well. The Cubs would be wiser to play it safer than sorry by at least getting someone. However, that comes with complications, too. When you boil down why the team is waiting, it's a dangerous game of high-risk, high reward.
Chicago Cubs: Is it time to hit the panic button on 2024?
Definitely not. Many confuse the time of year as being "early" or "late" in free agency. It's only late in free agency if every name is off the board and the Cubs need somewhere to turn to. Over half of the names on the top 50 free agents list are still available, and multiple in the top 10 are still looking for a home. When all those names are gone, and none are in Chicago, then we should worry.
The best guess will tell you that the New York Mets are seeing if they get Yoshinobu Yamamoto and, if not, determining if Pete Alonso is available via trade from there. If he is, the Cubs prefer him over Rhys Hoskins, which is likely what's holding that up. Once Yamamoto's sweepstakes wrap up, Bellinger's bargaining can begin, so expect to wait until Yamamoto signs. This is how the market goes, so assuming this is a lost offseason doesn't make sense.