670 The Score recently looked through some comments made by President of Baseball Operations, Jed Hoyer, about the state of the bullpen and the potential for additions as this remarkably uneventful Cubs’ offseason has progressed.
The name that was thrown out was RHP Emmanuel Clase, the current closer for the Cleveland Guardians and they had this completely reasonable and well-rounded description of the player that the Cubs would be getting:
"While the Cubs are reluctant to dole out big money to relievers, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in acquiring a star in the role. The Cubs have interest in 25-year-old Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase on the trade market, sources said"- Bruce Levine, 670 The Score
Let’s start with the bad. The numbers listed above are exceptional and leading the league in saves on a team that has been middling at best over the last two seasons is an impressive credential to have in your cap.
However, even though he was still an All-Star last season he had more than twice as many losses (9) as he had in 2022 (4) and blew three times as many saves (12) as he did in 2022 (4). His sparkling 1.36 ERA from 2022 ballooned all the way to 3.22 and he was worth less than 1 WAR according to Baseball Reference.
Moving on to the good though, the Guardians have him on a remarkably team-friendly contract which is a massive boon for any team being run by Jed Hoyer. He’s under team control through the 2028 season, at which time he’d enter free agency as a 30-year-old.
The thing that I find most interesting in the situation is that the Guardians have long been a team that has been able to squeeze the most out of their pitching. However, last season, something came off of the rails with arguably the two most important pitchers on the team (Clase and Shane Bieber) experiencing the worst seasons of their careers.
If the Cubs believe that trading for a piece like Emmanuel Clase makes sense from a prospect cost perspective and they can address the situation with Adbert Alzolay prior to making the deal so that he can retain his confidence going into the 2024 season it’s worth it to consider. The Cubs need guys that can come in during the late innings and get outs and new Manager, Craig Counsell, is well-versed in utilizing two top-end relief options to steal wins from his time managing RHP Devin Williams and LHP Josh Hader in Milwaukee.
All of that being said, trading for a 25-year-old (even one coming off of a rough season) who has led the league in saves two seasons in a row is likely going to come with an asking price that could be sky high and include players that Cubs fans don’t want to see go, including DH Christopher Morel or 2023 1st Round Pick Matt Shaw.