Cubs Still Connected to Several Unsigned Players as Pitchers & Catchers Report

Though a good number of players and prospects have been in Mesa for quite a while now, love is truly in the air as pitchers and catchers officially report on Valentine’s Day. For the Cubs, that could mean finally getting around to filling out the roster with an opportunistic deal or three. Among the possibilities we’ve discussed are two-year rehab deals for pitchers Liam Hendriks and Brandon Woodruff.

Both have been connected to the Cubs at various points of the offseason, with Hendriks himself acknowledging conversations with the North Siders. The possibility of the Cubs, or any other team, signing either Hendriks or Woodruff becomes more likely now that the 60-day IL has opened up. Both are expected to miss at least the first half of this season, so they shouldn’t take up a roster spot for any longer than necessary.

It should be pointed out, however, that a team with a full 40-man roster would still need to make a corresponding move in order to sign one of them. Of course, that could just mean placing someone else on the 60-day to clear a spot. We’ve noted previously that Hendriks feels like a very good fit, but Woodruff could also be a buy-low option to help the rotation next season and possibly later in 2024.

And I suppose we can’t discuss the importance of timing and opportunity without once again looking at the Boras Four. While everyone knew Scott Boras was willing to take negotiations down to the wire to secure the bag for each of his respective clients, the winter is officially over and offers haven’t been coming in. Like, at all. Part of that is the way Boras does business, which is to say that he basically sets a price and teams need to meet it or else there’s really no conversation to be had.

As such, the only known offer with any sort of formality was the $150 million the Yankees presented to Blake Snell, a number that was immediately scoffed at and then rescinded. Matt Chapman apparently hasn’t generated much interest, nor has Jordan Montgomery. Cody Bellinger has likewise had no takers on a presumed $200 million ask, which isn’t surprising to anyone but the folks at MLB Trade Rumors who predicted a 12-year, $264 contract.

Cubs Insider reported a month ago that the Cubs were unwilling to budge from their position, which we’ve guessed is around five years and $125-135 million, and more recent reports have confirmed as much. That means either another team steps up and gets close enough to the demand to make it worthwhile or Bellinger decides he’s simply not going to get the monster deal he was hoping for and he returns to Chicago. The longer this drags out, the more likely the latter scenario becomes.

The same could be said for the other three as well, just not necessarily as it concerns the Cubs. Jeff Passan did say, however, that they were likely to land a Boras guy even if it wasn’t Bellinger, so maybe either Montgomery or Chapman gets desperate and takes an unexpectedly short deal. Snell doesn’t seem nearly as likely to settle, what with him being the reigning NL Cy Young winner and all.

There’s also the possibility that there’s some sort of compromise for Bellinger or another of his colleagues when it comes to opt-outs. Jed Hoyer is adamantly averse to long-term deals, so anything beyond six years for a 28-year-old with a bit of an injury history is really stretching it. But maybe things are different if the former MVP gets an offer that includes an early opt-out or two with some additional options at the back end — perhaps club/ mutual that vest to player if certain benchmarks are reached — that could boost total value while mitigating risk for the team.

It’s probably not as simple as the Cubs sitting on a strict year/value number, but I have to think they do have a total guarantee in mind that they won’t push past. Getting them to go beyond that figure in terms of potential money is only going to happen with performance bonuses and/or options. And if that sounds like they’re being cheap or whatever, I guess it means the rest of the league is being at least as frugal.

The fact of the matter is that if the Cubs felt desperate enough to bring back their best hitter from last year, a deal would already be done. On the other hand, Bellinger would already be at Sloan working out alongside his teammates if he felt he had no chance at a bigger deal. Now all we can do is wait and see whether we get a Dexter Fowler redux, though that would also require Bellinger reportedly signing with another team first.

In the meantime, I’d suggest following Rich Biesterfeld on X if you don’t already. In addition to being one of the best dudes around, Rich is out at Sloan getting fantastic pictures of all the players in action throughout the spring.

Just for funsies, let’s get your predictions on where and for what the Boras Four end up signing.

Update: Per Jeff Passan, Hendriks has set a Thursday deadline for signing and will choose to rehab on his own if he doesn’t reach a deal. He would then throw for teams in July with a goal of being ready down the stretch.

Back to top button