With Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto having agreed to a historic deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, there is a belief that free agency will begin in earnest now that the two biggest free agents, Yamamoto and Shohei Ohtani, have each signed with the Dodgers.
Still, the movement that many fans are hoping to see may still be a week away from truly getting started.
Now that the tier of players that are in the group below Ohtani and Yamamoto are expected to sign during this next wave, this likely will be where the Chicago Cubs begin making improvements to their roster. The players that will be of interest to the Cubs are Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Rhys Hoskins, Shota Imanaga, and Jordan Montgomery.
The issue for the Cubs is that the team that missed on Ohtani and Yamamoto may have more of an inclination to overspend on this next group of free agents. The Toronto Blue Jays remain the likeliest of teams to meet Bellinger's asking price while the Yankees may be shifting their focus to Montgomery and Imanaga.
"Anyway, it’s time to move on to the next free agent, and it’s nice to hear the Yankees are considering trying to bring back former Yankee Jordan Montgomery or engaging in yet another bidding war for yet another Japanese star, the left-hander Shota Imanaga."- Jon Heyman via the New York Post
This was always going to be the risk with the Cubs' plan. The Cubs, under Jed Hoyer, are comfortable waiting out the market and letting the free agents come down to their price but when teams that were truly in on the top free agents are left with money to spend, a big-market team that acts like a mid-market team in the Cubs risk their off-season strategy not having a payoff.