Latest MLB Players Poll proves the Chicago Cubs need to spend money in free agency

Regardless of whether or not the Chicago Cubs want to pay the money needed to get great players, it seems like those great players want to play for the Chicago Cubs.
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The Athletic (subscription required) recently completed their annual poll of players around the league about various major questions, but the one that may be the most interesting as we move towards an off-season where the Chicago Cubs are expected to have the funds to be real players for high-caliber free agents was:

Which team would you sign with if contracts, state taxes and rosters were not a factor?

The Atlanta Braves came away in first place with 12.7% of the vote. The next closest team was the Boston Red Sox with 9.3% followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers with 8.1% each. 

The Chicago Cubs were fifth on that list (in a tie with the New York Yankees) with 6.9% of the vote and that really does matter. That means that the players still want to go to Chicago despite the fact that they won’t be seen as the "cursebreakers" that the 2016 team were. 

That sentiment is about the organization, not the city. In fact, a later question was essentially about which team players had a bad taste in their mouths, and the Chicago White Sox were second on that list. This implies that the Cubs are seen by the players in MLB to be considerably ahead of their cross-town rivals in the way that they take care of players.

It is worth noting that, unfortunately for the Cubs, state taxes, rosters and contract offers absolutely are factors in how free agents decide where to sign their deal andhave not historically favored the Cubs. 

This year, the Cubs gave Cody Bellinger the first contract in team history with an average annual value (AAV) of over $30 million. While the team has backed up the Brinks truck for players like Dansby Swanson and Jason Heyward, they should be seen as the exception rather than the rule, so it seems unlikely that the team will win a bidding war with any of the teams listed ahead of them in the poll.

Beyond that, according to Intuit TurboTax, Illinois has one of the heaviest tax burdens in the country at 9.38%. Even if a player doesn’t choose to live in Illinois and can avoid the high property tax rates, they will have a state income tax. 

Finally, the roster is an area of this team that other players would love to see. The farm system is absolutely loaded and the young players are already starting to blossom at the highest level. 

The 2024 Cubs team has not been noticeably better than the 2023 team that missed the playoffs. That doesn’t mean that they should give up on the season, but it’s never too early to start considering what this roster could look like next year and based on this poll it seems like this exceptional upcoming crop of free agents may want to play in Chicago.

That means its time for Jed Hoyer to stop living on the margins and make a big splash.