The Chicago Cubs have been linked to the Cleveland Guardians on a variety of different trade proposals this off-season with American League All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase being a primary topic of conversation between the two teams.
Given Clase's team-friendly contract, the asking price likely is high and an update from Jon Morosi of MLB Network would suggest that a team hasn't been willing to meet the demand.
With the signing of Hector Neris now official, it would seem unlikely that the Cubs would be interested in offering the prospect capital that it would cost to acquire Clase. The Cubs, on paper, have the makings of a strong bullpen led by Neris, Adbert Alzolay, Mark Leiter Jr, and Julian Merryweather.
Where the concern lies for the Cubs is the expectation that Alzolay, Leiter, and Merryweather will have the same success in 2024 that they had last season. If anything, the regression of Keegan Thompson last season should prove as a caution for the Cubs to not expect the same production from unproven commodities in the bullpen. The Cubs neglected addressing the bullpen fully last off-season because of the expectation they had for Thompson serving as the ace out of the bullpen. It backfired immediately and the Cubs did not have an answer until the second half of the season.
Clase would seem to be a name to file away until the Trade Deadline. If the Cubs are in a position to be buyers at the deadline with a need in the bullpen, it would seem likely that the Guardians would be a team they call depending on their standing in the American League Central. Of course, the Cubs would also likely have renewed interest in Shane Bieber, the veteran who is a free agent after this season.
One reliever who will not be returning to the Cubs' bullpen this season is Michael Rucker. Rucker was designated for assignment after the team announced the signing of Neris, and on Monday, the team traded the right-hander to the Philadelphia Phillies.