The Chicago Cubs may not be able to wait until the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings begin on Sunday to make their first impact move as the Hot Stove erupted on Friday night with a major free-agent signing. Former New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom signed a massive 5-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $185 million.
The Cubs were never really believed to be shopping in the deep end of the starting pitching free-agent market as there were few connections made between the Cubs and the likes of deGrom, Justin Verlander, and Carlos Rodon. It has been the practice of Cubs' president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer to avoid going past three years on a contract for free-agent pitchers so there was some speculation early in the offseason that the team may offer a short-term deal with an inflated AAV to a pitcher like deGrom. However, there was no way the Cubs were going to match any deal for deGrom or any other pitcher that featured a $37MM AAV for five years.
As we took a look at on Friday, the prices for free-agent pitchers are climbing this offseason and it will be interesting to see how both the Cubs and the market pivot after the deGrom deal. The Cubs are believed to be in the second-tier of free-agent starting pitchers in Kodai Senga, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker. If the Mets, who just lost deGrom, are unable to lure Rodon or Verlander to New York, the team may look into re-signing Bassitt or Walker.
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The Cubs' National League Central rival, the Milwaukee Brewers, made a curious move on Friday as the team traded second baseman Kolten Wong to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Jesse Winker and infielder Abraham Toro. Jeff Passan reported that Winker may not be long for Milwaukee as there was reportedly a third team involved in the trade discussions that may have taken on Winker. On the surface, while Winker is a candidate to bounce back offensively in 2023 after a 2022 season where he struggled with injuries, the trade does not make complete sense for the Brewers considering Winker's shortcomings in the outfield.
Recently acquired Rylan Bannon was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros on Friday night. When the Cubs initially acquired Bannon off waivers a couple of weeks ago, there was an expectation that the team would try and sneak him through waivers at a later point this offseason. Nevertheless, the Cubs now have another 40-man roster spot open ahead of any free-agent signings that may occur.
In more signs that free-agent relievers are getting paid this offseason, former Cubs' reliever Chris Martin signed a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox on Friday worth $17.5MM.
Despite the trade of Wong, the Brewers currently have no plans to trade Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, or Willy Adames.