Cubs' current bullpen landscape

CHICAGO — Finding late-inning reducers through economical agreements has actually been a staple of the Cubs’ offseason operations in the last few years. It was an objective once again for the club this offseason, offered the variety of enigma hovering over the bullpen.

“That’s something we’ve done well,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer stated at Cubs Convention last weekend. “This free-agent market made it a lot more difficult.”

Less than a month out from the start of Spring Training, Chicago’s only acquisition on that specific front has actually been seasoned righty Brad Boxberger. While the Cubs continue to keep track of a market with a couple of appealing names offered, this significantly appears like a circumstance to be resolved internally.

Boxberger signed a one-year offer worth $2.8 million ensured, which is divided in between a $2 million base pay for 2023 and an $800,000 buyout of a shared choice ($5 million) for ’24. It is the type of offer that the Cubs have actually utilized in current seasons to generate names like Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Chris Martin, David Robertson and Mychal Givens.

Each of those gamers signed up with the Cubs, experienced a level of success and were then turned at a Trade Deadline as the North Siders fell out of contention and moved the focus to the future. They have actually all considering that struck the free market and made bigger incomes with other clubs.

“When you look at the cost on some of the players that we were able to do that on, it was really low,” Hoyer stated. “It wasn’t low threat, however low stakes, as far as what we were paying those men. And I do believe that the by buy-low reducer market, so to speak, has actually been a lot greater than in the past. So, I believe that it’s made that task tough.

“But all that said, I mean, really, we have to be able to develop our own relievers. Honestly, I’d love an offseason where we don’t have to sign any relievers. That means we have a ton of arms and we just go with what we have internally. That’s a place that you love to have kind of efficiency.”

Here is a breakdown of the Cubs’ present bullpen landscape:

• When the smoke clears on the back of the rotation, the bullpen will acquire a minimum of 2 of those multi-inning arms. From there, the Cubs will have virtual locks in the bullpen with righty Rowan Wick, lefty Brandon Hughes and Boxberger.

“You’re going to have injuries. You’re going to have poor performances,” Hoyer stated. “We’re getting more depth. The bottom of our 40-man roster is a lot better than it has been. I think that the next guys off it are really talented and, hopefully, that depth will really help us.”

To that last point, the Cubs declared Merryweather on Tuesday and designated hard-throwing righty Manuel Rodríguez for project. Righty Mark Leiter Jr., who had a 2.87 period as a multi-inning reducer in 2015, was likewise designated for project just recently to include very first baseman Eric Hosmer to the lineup.

Another hard lineup choice will loom when the Cubs formally reveal the addition of free-agent very first baseman Trey Mancini. And the relocations will get back at more complex if Chicago does head out and includes another reducer (The Athletic just recently reported the group’s interest in Chafin and Matt Moore).

“You never feel totally comfortable with [the bullpen], just given the volatility of it,” Hoyer stated. “Are we wanting to include men? Yes, however I do feel comfy because we’re getting increasingly more [to a place where] we have men that can fill that function.

“My goal, my hope, is that over the next two to three years, that those guys are all coming out of our system. That’s the real goal, is to provide great stuff in the bullpen that’s also coming, and young guys with options that are that are less expensive, and that’s really what we want to develop.”

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