Understanding why the Chicago Cubs will be strong contenders in 2024

Chicago Cubs v Oakland Athletics
Chicago Cubs v Oakland Athletics / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages
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After 18 games into the season, the Cubs sit at a respectable 11-7 record. With both the offense and pitching firing on all cylinders, Chicago has placed itself in the middle of the conversation of teams you certainly can't rule out from competing for a playoff spot this year. As good as the Cubs have looked thus far on paper, there's reason to believe that 2023 will only be the beginning. We know the Cubs have always envisioned 2024 as the year to contend, but the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of losing seasons is getting brighter and brighter.

Fast forwarding to 2024, we have three main reasons why the Cubs will strongly compete next season. Let's review them now, starting with where things will sit for the front office financially.

Understanding why the Cubs will contend in 2024 - Current payroll

First, same as this past winter, the Chicago Cubs will have the financial flexibility to spend again. Taking a look at pending Cubs free agents, let's break down what to come off the books after the 2023 season concludes:

  • Marcus Stroman - $23.6M (Player option)
  • Cody Bellinger - $17.5M (Mutual option)
  • Kyle Hendricks - 13.875M (Club option)
  • Trey Mancini - $7M (player option)
  • Yan Gomes - $6.5M (club option)
  • Michael Fulmer $4.0M (UFA)
  • Tucker Barnhart $3.25M (Player option)
  • Brad Boxberger $2.8M (Mutual option)
  • Eric Hosmer $720K (UFA)

First, remember that Jason Heyward's $22.0M is coming off the books this winter. Starting at the top of this player list, unless the Cubs offer Marcus Stroman a healthy extension as they did for Ian Happ, he is as good as gone this winter, too, if he has another good year. Presumably, the same for Cody Bellinger, who will be one of the most sought-after bats on the market if he has a fantastic year.

Adding those three players up right there, along with Kyle Hendricks, who seems unlikely to have his option picked up at this point, we're already talking about a total of $77M coming off the books this winter. That's before any remaining decisions are made that could boost that total. Another spending spree is undoubtedly in the works.