The Chicago Cubs have multiple needs within their starting rotation and that is a large part of the reason why the team has not shied in their interest in Japanese starting pitcher Kodai Senga. Senga elected for international free agency this offseason and the lack of a posting fee attached to his free agency status allows for a team like the Cubs to pursue the starting pitcher this offseason without an additional fee having to be paid to the team that holds his rights in Japan. The Cubs have already had multiple meetings with Senga's agent and that has led to many predictions connecting the two sides.
Outside of Senga, the Cubs have not been linked to the starting pitchers at the top of the free-agent class. Justin Verlander may be priced out of the Cubs' desired contract goals for a starting pitcher and the team has yet to be connected to Carlos Rodon or Jacob deGrom. The Cubs have been linked to veteran starting pitcher Corey Kluber, but at this stage of his career, Kluber does not represent a significant upgrade to the starting rotation.
If the Cubs are intent on improving their starting rotation for the 2023 season, it is likely going to involve a trade. A trade for a starting pitcher was the prediction made by Sahadev Sharma when The Athletic forecasted the Major League Baseball offseason.
"Chicago Cubs Some injuries to key prospects dings the confidence in this prediction, but the Cubs will make a big trade for an established starting pitcher to lead their rotation."- The Athletic
In the same article, Chicago White Sox beat reporter James Fegan offered this prediction:
"Chicago White Sox Other than letting José Abreu walk, general manager Rick Hahn also hinted at being newly willing to trade from the team’s core. Could that be two-time All-Star Tim Anderson? The shortstop is 29 with two years of club options left on his contract, and coming off a year where injury limited him to 79 games. The Sox don’t have an in-house replacement so to speak, but Lenyn Sosa, José Rodríguez and top prospect Colson Montgomery give them a small slate of short and mid-term options, presuming a trade strengthens them elsewhere."- The Athletic
The Cubs and White Sox have been no strangers to doing business with one another in recent seasons. Of course, there was the notable trade in 2017 that saw the Cubs trade then prospects Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez to the White Sox for Jose Quintana, but in 2021, the teams connected on two trades including the deal that sent Craig Kimbrel to the South Side for Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer.
Like in 2017 when the White Sox had a starting pitcher in Quintana that filled a need for the Cubs in their rotation, they once again have another starting pitcher that could be of interest. Considering the White Sox preference for trades this offseason, speculation has centered around Lucas Giolitio being a candidate to be moved this offseason.
Lucas Giolito could be a starting pitcher the Chicago Cubs should monitor this offseason.
Giolito is set to reach free agency next offseason but struggled with an inconsistent season in 2022. In just over 162 innings pitched last season, Giolito posted a 4.90 ERA. Giolito's xFIP in 2022, of 3.66, would seem to suggest that he was the victim of bad luck last season given the defensive struggles that the White Sox had. Giolito's K/9 ratio dipped under 10 last season for the first time in three years and that coupled with his hard hit percentage jumping to 39% after having it at 34.2% in the previous season would suggest the starting pitcher struggled with throwing off hitters' timing in 2022.
Depending on the ask of the White Sox, Giolito would be an intriguing target for the Cubs. If the Cubs feel they can get Giolito back to the form that saw him finish in the top-15 in voting for American League Cy Young Award from 2019 through 2021, then it would be worthwhile trade for the team.