Chicago Cubs Rumors: Front Office has room for big move in 2023

Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs
Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

After the Chicago Cubs signed Eric Hosmer to a one-year deal that only cost the club 700k, it made the vision of the near future all the more transparent. As it sits now, the Cubs' current projected payroll (pre-arb & arbitration figures included) sits at 213.3MM and they are still 20.0MM under the first luxury tax tier. Granted, there are no longer any free agents that you'd break the bank for. With funds still available, how might they be dispersed? I believe this money could be used to negotiate contract extensions for Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ.

If that were to be the case, then Jed Hoyer would need to get going on extension talks before arbitration hearings take place. Unless, of course, they come to agreements with both players and try to extend them thereafter. In the meantime, the reality is money seems to be purposely left available right now. Opting for a nearly free Hosmer was just one point. Another is the state of the Cubs' current bullpen.

It's no secret the Cubs could use another left-handed reliever in the bullpen to pair with Brandon Hughes. They have signed Anthony Kay, Roenis Elias, and Brad Weick to minor-league deals in the past two weeks. All three are of the southpaw variety which could mean Jed Hoyer is hoping he can count on having at least one pan out at the major league level.

If that were the case, it ties into the belief that they went after Hosmer over Mancini to save funds for extension talks, should they need it. The Cubs have spent big this offseason; they Cubs have dedicated over $50.0MM in salary between Swanson, Bellinger, Taillon, Boxberger, and Barnhart. So to say they're being cheap now doesn't reasonably calculate. Something else must be brewing under the hood for the front office.

When Jed Hoyer stated that he's like to have extension talks sooner rather than later, it further indicates that the remaining funds available this winter could be used for just that. The Cubs do have several outfield prospects climbing the ranks. The fact, however, is simple: Brennen Davis has been unable to stay healthy and now has a huge question mark. Alexander Canario, who could undoubtedly return to full strength, will also be sidelined for the better part of the 2023 season and will more than likely spend the majority, if not the entirety, of the 2023 season in Iowa once he returns.

Besides that, when it comes to a trade, Ian Happ's value for just the one year of team control in 2023 is certainly not high enough to land the club an ace pitcher, which they desperately need. Instead, it may be more prudent to package one of their young outfielders in Owen Caissie or even Kevin Alcantara, who are still more than likely two years out from big-league action. Happ is already proven at the MLB level. At only 28 years old and coming off an All-Star, Gold Glove-winning campaign, there is no reason to fix something that's not broken here to hope that one of your young prospects develops into the player Happ already is today.

Next. Update on two Cubs' outfield prospects. dark

Expect contract negotiations to kick off somewhat shortly, as both sides want to get them out of the way early to avoid what's most important: Focusing on Spring Training and getting ready for the 2023 season.