5. RHP Jameson Taillon
Unlike Suzuki, Jameson Taillon's next three years look a bit more daunting. After netting a four-year deal from the Cubs, Taillon proved to be the most untrustworthy arm in the starting rotation despite receiving the highest paycheck. I expect a lot out of Taillon in 2024 and beyond because his contract warrants at least a middle-of-the-rotation starter. To come anywhere close to that Taillon will have to shatter his Fangraphs projections, which have him turning in a lackluster 1.6 WAR.
Taillon certainly had more success in the second half of the season where he posted a 3.70 ERA over 82.2 innings pitched. But the peripheral numbers could definitely be better because Taillon still gave up 14 home runs and generated a lot of traffic on the bases. For everybody's sake Taillon needs to show improvement in 2024 and avoid his contract from looking like a disaster.
6. RHP Adbert Alzolay
Adbert Alzolay finally came into his own in 2023 and emerged as the team's closer. Although it took former manager David Ross a while to fully trust Alzolay in that role, the results speak for themselves. The 28-year-old collected 22 saves with a 2.67 ERA while averaging more than one strikeout for every inning pitched. Everything just seemed to click with Alzolay last year for the first time in his big-league career.
There are concerns considering 2023 was the only year that Alzolay wasn't mired by continuous injuries. On the other hand, it was the first year that Alzolay was a dedicated bullpen arm where he seemed to thrive. Assuming 2023 wasn't a fluke year, Alzolay should be pitching high-leverage innings until he reaches free agency.