Cubs Might Not Be Done Adding Relievers as Andrew Chafin’s D-Backs Deal Signals Deflated Market

The Cubs just agreed to a deal with righty Michael Fulmer, which at the time seemed to indicate they were done adding relievers. That was based on the reported market and the assumption that they wouldn’t have enough room left under the CBT threshold once Fulmer’s undisclosed salary comes out of the $12 million or so they’ve got remaining. Things have changed quite a bit in 24 hours, though, as lefty Andrew Chafin just signed with the Diamondbacks for far less than he’d been seeking.

Initial reports had Chafin looking for as much as $10 million AAV for at least two years, but he settled for just $6.25 million guaranteed. He’ll earn $5.5 million this year with a $750,000 buyout on a $7.25 million club option for 2024, then there’s a $1 million bonus if he makes at least 55 appearances this season. That’s a pretty safe bet for a guy who’s averaged 72 appearances over the last five full seasons.

Even if Chafin maxes the deal out, he’s looking at about 25% less than his initial asking price. It’s way lower if he doesn’t get the bonus or the second year. That can’t be a good sign for fellow southpaws Matt Moore, Will Smith, and Zack Britton, all of whom have been connected to the Cubs in some manner over the last several weeks. Much of that is just conjecture, though it makes a lot of sense that a team presently boasting one left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster would like to find another.

However, the Cubs do have several lefties on minor-league deals and they might even believe in Mark Leiter Jr.‘s ability to maintain very strong reverse splits. Between that and their closeness to the luxury tax, Jed Hoyer isn’t in any hurry to make a move. Once pitchers and catchers start to report in a few days, one or more of those remaining free agents might get a little anxious and take a prove-it deal just to get into camp.

I actually like Britton quite a bit in spite of his disastrous last two years with the Yankees and I think that bowling ball sinker would play well in front of a much-improved defense. If, that is, he can take a sip from the Buckingham Fountain of Youth and get his fastball back up to the mid-90s. Though it may not be super likely, I would not be at all surprised to see a new face in Mesa by the middle of next week.

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