As the World Series wrapped up, the annual barrage of offseason prediction pieces came pouring out of outlets and blogs across the web, and many of them pegged the Cubs to be in the market for a premier late-inning weapon like Josh Hader.
I'm not sure how folks arrived at such a conclusion because it flies in the face of everything we've seen this front office do in recent years. Not since the team's ill-fated signing of Craig Kimbrel has Chicago swam in the deep end of the free agent reliever pool - and there's no reason to assume Jed Hoyer is set to deviate from that approach heading into 2024.
Cubs have shown an ability to build a bullpen without superstar arms
Despite the bullpen's late-season crumbling and the fact one of the team's primary offseason additions, Brad Boxberger, was a non-factor, the team's path of reclamation projects or veterans looking to re-establish themselves on short-term deals has been overwhelmingly successful. We've seen it in recent years with the likes of David Robertson, Mychal Givens, Michael Fulmer, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, etc. and that track record speaks for itself.
Given the fact the Cubs have several other major needs (first and third base, re-signing Cody Bellinger, exploring a rotation upgrade), the available dollars would be far better utilized in those areas than on someone like Hader.
Don't expect reunions with Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman, either. They are no longer in the same echelon as Hader, who is, hands-down, the best relief option on the market, but will surely draw interest (and dollars) that surpass what Hoyer is comfortable giving out this winter.