Jose Altuve extension makes a Cubs pursuit of Alex Bregman more likely next winter

If Chicago doesn't sign Matt Chapman this winter, the front office could pivot to the longtime Astros third baseman next winter.

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Five
Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Five / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The third base picture for the Cubs isn't clear in 2024, let alone 2025, but with the Houston Astros extending second baseman Jose Altuve on Tuesday night, it seems likelier than ever that third baseman Alex Bregman will depart via free agency once his contract expires at season's end - which begs the question: will Chicago take a run at the All-Star third baseman next winter?

We don't yet know if the Cubs will land Matt Chapman, this winter's marquee free agent third baseman, before it's all said and done. But assuming they don't, it's worth wondering if they take a long, hard look at Bregman at the hot corner heading into 2025.

Internally, the likeliest long-term solutions at the position are Christopher Morel, who has shown tremendous promise with the bat but has some glaring defensive deficiencies, and top infield prospect Matt Shaw, who could force his way onto the big league roster before the summer's up after rocketing up the ranks after being selected in the first round last year.

Cubs are a logical fit for Alex Bregman heading into next winter

Bregman, who turns 30 in March, figures to be one of the hottest commodities on the open market next winter. The former LSU standout has been one of the league's best third baseman pretty much since he made his big league debut back in 2016 as a 22 year old. He owns a career 135 OPS+ over eight seasons and has played an integral part in the Astros having the AL West in a strangehold for much of the last decade.

Last year, Bregman slashed .262/.363/.441, appearing in all but 1 of Houston's regular season games. He came up big in the ALCS, hitting three home runs against the eventual World Series champion Rangers, and the former World Series MVP brings a ton of postseason experience to the table: over 400 plate appearances in October - and a pair of rings, to boot.

Houston, at least for the time being, seems to have made its pick between Bregman and Altuve - potentially opening the door for a team like the Cubs to make a run at the former next winter. Of course, a lot can change between now and 12 months from now, but it seems fairly safe to circle Bregman's name on a list of potential targets for Jed Hoyer in free agency next offseason.