It's been an eventful day for Cubs fans. First, the team made the Shota Imanaga signing official. Then, Jed Hoyer seemingly came out of nowhere to complete a rare prospect-for-prospect trade with the Dodgers, landing Michael Busch and Yency Almonte in exchange for Jackson Ferris and Zyhir Hope - addressing a long-standing first base need in the process.
Busch is expected to be the Opening Day first baseman at this point, with Christopher Morel the logical choice at third. That leaves Patrick Wisdon and Nick Madrigal available off the bench, so handing tens of millions of dollars to free agent third baseman Matt Chapman doesn't seem to fit the team's plan at this point, potentially clearing the way for the Giants to bring in the Gold Glover.
Cubs can still add top-level free agents - it just won't be Matt Chapman
Chapman's free agency case has served almost as an antithesis to Cody Bellinger. The former put up subpar offensive numbers with elite underlying batted ball metrics, while the latter racked up the baseball card numbers despite weak data behind his performance. Both remain unsigned, regardless, due largely in part to the fact they share the same agent in Scott Boras.
A reunion with Bellinger still makes sense even post-Busch trade. Letting top outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong get some more seasoning at Triple-A in 2024 won't do anyone any harm, and adding Bellinger into the lineup alongside Busch and Morel has the potential of packing a lot of punch - especially if there's another bat added outside of Bellinger in the weeks to come.
But it feels like the top two fits as far as remaining free agents go are Bellinger and, if the Cubs want to put the finishing touch on the offseason, Josh Hader. There are more mid-level guys who fit the bill, but these are the two big fish at this point. Chapman made sense at one point, but it seems safe to expect him to land elsewhere at this point.