Cubs Rumors: Price tag for that badly-needed lefty reliever is on the rise

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

If, between now and when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15, the Cubs front office can land an established left-handed presence to add to the bullpen, it'd be hard to not come away from this offseason feeling like the team checked just about every box on its to-do list.

Dansby Swanson is obviously, far and away, Chicago's biggest offseason prize - inked to a seven-year, $177 million pact that ranks second-largest in franchise history. The Cody Bellinger signing is intriguing and has immense potential with zero long-term risk, while veterans like Jameson Taillon, Trey Mancini, Tucker Barnhart, Eric Hosmer and Brad Boxberger round out the notable moves made by Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins.

Cubs Rumors: Andrew Chafin, Matt Moore, Zack Britton still available

But, according to Bob Nightengale, that lefty reliever isn't going to come at a discount. The top three southpaw arms left on the market - Matt Moore, Zack Britton and old friend Andrew Chafin - are all reportedly seeking $9 million annually, and could be looking for multi-year pacts, to boot.

Given where the Cubs sit in terms of the luxury tax and their past preference of leaving a little wiggle room for in-season additions, they may shy away from such asking prices, regardless of how big a need this is for the club heading into 2023.

It makes you wonder if someone like Cole Hamels, who is throwing for teams in hopes of getting back on a big league mound for the first time since 2020, when he made just one appearance for the Braves, could be an option if he fails to land a chance to start this year. He hardly has that shutdown late-inning stuff at this point, but at least you have someone other than Brandon Hughes out there from the left side.

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I can't envision a scenario where the Cubs exceed the CBT threshold in 2023 - so adding that lefty arm might necessitate moving some money off the books. This is definitely a storyline to keep a close eye on here in the closing weeks of the offseason - with the team eyeing a return to the postseason this fall, how will the front office address this glaring need?