Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has gone on the record several times in saying that he is to blame for the bullpen issues that plagued a large portion of the team's 2023 season.
No, Hoyer could not have envisioned that there would be a regression from Keegan Thompson and the group of Brandon Hughes, Michael Fulmer, and Brad Boxberger would struggle with consistency and health for the duration of the season. But, Hoyer's luck of being able to identify the right veteran relief pitchers to sign to a one-year deal with the goal that the Cubs' pitching infrastructure would unlock them ran out last season.
The Cubs have the expectation of contending during the 2024 season and if that expectation is to be met, there will be a need for attention to be paid to the bullpen this off-season. That is why it was no small takeaway when Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney mentioned in The Athletic (Subscription required) that there may have been a shift in Hoyer's thinking.
" There’s a sense that Hoyer will be a little more flexible with his preferred philosophy of not giving out multiyear contracts to relievers"- The Athletic
No, this likely won't mean that the Cubs will be willing to shell out the money it would cost to sign Josh Hader but a free agent such as Yuki Matsui may be in play. Matsui is expected to make the transition from Japan to Major League Baseball this off-season and is seeking a multi-year deal with an AAV between $10MM and $12MM.
The Cubs have some pieces in their bullpen established already in closer Adbert Alozolay followed by Mark Leiter Jr and Julian Merryweather but the team needs a more balanced approach than they had this past season. Craig Counsell certainly will help with a balanced bullpen but it must also come with effective late-inning relief pitchers.