Chicago Cubs: Team should pursue bullpen help from Kansas City Royals

Colorado Rockies v Kansas City Royals
Colorado Rockies v Kansas City Royals / Jay Biggerstaff/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs took a stop in Los Angeles during their 10-game west coast road trip and the Angels swept them out of the city. They sat 10 games under .500 at 26-36 and had people begin to question Jed Hoyer, David Ross, and the makeup of this group. Since then, they’ve had a fire under them, winning 6 of 7, highlighted by a near no-hitter by Kyle Hendricks and a sweep of the (at the time) first-place Pittsburgh Pirates. With the division wide open, the Cubs are right in the thick of it and should look to the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline to strengthen the bullpen.

The Royals have quietly become Oakland Athletics-level bad and find themselves giving Oakland company at the bottom of the league. With the team already out of contention, they’ve made it known players will be available at the trade deadline. The most valuable assets come at the back end of the bullpen in Scott Barlow and the familiar Aroldis Chapman.

Barlow holds a 4.38 ERA through 24.2 innings pitched so far in 2023. He’s 7/8 on save chances and owns a 12.8 K/9. He’s currently on a one-year-deal worth $5.3 million and is set to become a free agent in 2025.

Chapman owns a 2.70 ERA through 23.1 innings in his 2023 campaign. He’s 2/4 on save chances and owns a 15.8 K/9. His current deal is one-year for $3.75 million and will become a free agent in 2024.

For context, the two highest-paid arms out of the Cubs bullpen are Michael Fulmer ($4 million) and Brad Boxberger ($2.8 million). Both own a 5.52 ERA so far in 2023 and are 3/5 on save chances. No other bullpen arm is making over a million.

The Cubs' bullpen as a whole has been the biggest drag on this team. They own the following stats so far in 2023:

4.51 ERA (24th in baseball)
1.6 WAR (21st)
9 saves (30th)

These two arms have the same amount of saves as the whole Cubs bullpen combined. They also elevate the 9.99 K/9 rate owned by the pen and add a left-handed option where there’s barely one (Brandon Hughes).

Ideally, Hoyer asks for a package deal from the Royals but adding just one of these arms would be massive and could come at a reasonable price. However, Chapman may be the better option of the two if you had to pick one. The former Cub is a left-handed option which is needed and with his contract set to expire at the end of the year, Hoyer wouldn’t have to give up much as he’d be a rental.

Hoyer took ownership of the bullpen struggles so far this year and he’s got a golden opportunity to redeem himself. It’s time for him to add a few pieces to put this team in position for a run at the division. The potential is there and with the Royals dangling assets that would fit right in, the front office has to be ready to negotiate.

More Chicago Cubs News