Justin Steele turned in a breakout performance in 2023, finishing top-5 in NL Cy Young balloting, but he's going to need some help at the top of the Cubs starting rotation if the team is going to take another step forward this season.
I recently looked at the top of the market (excluding Yoshinobu Yamamoto) and explored some potential big-name free agent fits for the Cubs, and that list included 2023 NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell. But if the latest reports from out west are to be believed, the Cubs stand next to no chance of landing the left-hander this winter, even if they have interest in him.
" The San Francisco Giants appear to be the leading candidate for free-agent starter Blake Snell, who won’t sign until Yamamoto’s deal becomes finalized."- Bob Nightengale, USA Today
Cubs were never seriously viewed as a Blake Snell landing spot
Snell, 31, is an intriguing free agent given the fact he turned in a stunningly dominant stretch to close out the year, leading the league in ERA and also walks. 2023 marked his second Cy Young campaign - and the Giants' need of pitching make him a perfect fit for San Francisco.
The Cubs have pretty clearly not been seriously shopping at the top of the starting pitching market, despite the need, although adding a big-name starter via trade can't be ruled out. Chicago was listed as the leading contender for Astros' southpaw Framber Valdez on Wednesday, but it remains to be seen if Houston will even trade the lefty.
Chicago was also previously connected to Tyler Glasnow before he wound up with the Dodgers, and remain a speculative fit for Guardians' right-hander Shane Bieber. It feels like Jed Hoyer will reinforce the starting rotation in some fashion, but it doesn't appear that Blake Snell will be the new face on the staff come spring.