4. Sean Manaea (predicted by Darragh McDonald of MLBTR)
The second pitcher to make this list and surprisingly someone we haven't heard that much about yet. Sean Manaea really didn't see the success he showed in 2021 when he notched a 3.91 ERA in 179.1 innings pitched over the course of 32 starts. In the first half of 2022, Manaea recorded a 4.11 ERA followed by a 6.44 ERA in the second half. Though he has flashed great stuff at times, I'm not sure he moves the needle in terms of production. It's hard to see much reasoning other than depth for a move such as this. The problem is, the Cubs already have plenty of it.
Aside from Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, and Hayden Wesneski in a small sample size last season, the Cubs also have guys such as Adrian Sampson and Kyle Hendricks who are all capable of putting up above-average numbers in the rotation. They also have Javier Assad and hopefully Caleb Kilian waiting for a chance to shine as well next season. The Cubs need an ace if they wish to climb the NL Central standings next season. Manaea had a down 2022. He's not a bad pitcher, but he doesn't do much to help a rotation full of guys that all just put up better numbers than him.
5. Andrew Heaney (Predicted by Tim Dierkes of MLBTR)
Another slightly more intriguing option on the list when you dig into the peripherals is Andrew Heaney. Heaney spent the first half of the year recovering from injuries as he was dealing with a combination of shoulder discomfort and shoulder inflammation which limited him to just 14 starts in 72.2 frames with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. In that time though, he recorded a 3.10 ERA with 110 punchouts. Safe to say this was the best stretch of his entire career. From the years 2016 through 2021, Heaney recorded a combined 4.92 ERA (4.55 FIP). Not sure what it is about pitchers going to Los Angeles and finding a lot of success, but nevertheless, if Heaney can stay healthy he's an interesting option.
Not too sure how keen Jed Hoyer and crew are to adding another southpaw to the rotation with Justin Steele. If they are, then Heaney should be able to find some success in a division that includes the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. Furthermore, the Brewers slashed just .222/.309/.365 collectively as a team against left-handed pitchers this season. So really, another lefty in the rotation going against a weaker division as it is may bring a great deal of success to the Cubs. It's certainly worth taking a flyer on if Heaney can stay healthy, but any drop in production from his time in Los Angeles this season has him sliding back into the "not moving the needle" category.