Five options for Cubs in the relief market
Quinn Harris - USA Today Sports

Five options for Cubs in the relief market

by - Senior Writer -

Since the addition of Dansby Swanson and Drew Smyly, the Chicago Cubs have been very quiet on the free-agent front. Sure, you have had plenty of rumors about possible deals, including Eric Hosmer, who likes like he is close to signing a contract with the Cubs. However, nothing has come from it yet, and as we rapidly approach one month until pitchers and catchers report, the Cubs still have a few needs left to fill.

Two of those needs remain at the corner infield positions, where the Cubs might stand pat until later this season. However, the bullpen is the one area they need to address, and plenty of intriguing names are left on the open market for this team to pursue. The addition of Brad Boxberger was a significant pickup for the Cubs, giving them some flexibility toward the back end of the pen.

Even at that, this team still has at least two more spots in the bullpen that need to be filled, and one needs to be a lefty if possible. As things sit right now, the current bullpen looks to be Rowan Wick, Boxberger, Brandon Hughes, Adbert Alzolay, Keegan Thompson, and Adrian Sampson. Codi Heuer should return at some point in 2023, but that will only happen later in the season.

When you look at the list of names above, you have to marvel at the potential some of these players have, especially Hughes and Thompson, who emerged as serious weapons last season. However, apart from Hughes, the Cubs have no other left-handed relief pitchers, which could be a problem once the season starts.

Andrew Chafin

If you ask Cubs fans, they would love to see a guy like Andrew Chafin come back to Chicago, and you can see why. Not only was he a lefty but he was also a very good lefty who emerged as a fan favorite. I expect the Cubs to be in discussions with him, but a deal may not be imminent. If he is off the table, what other left-handed options do the Cubs have?

Will Smith, Matt Moore, Alex Young, and Brad Hand are all options for the Cubs to consider, and all have had a ton of success.

Will Smith

Starting with Moore for a minute. The former starter turned reliever has had a rough go of things on the injury front, but when healthy was a very good starter. The Cubs found that out the hard way in 2016 when he dominated the Cubs in game four of the NLDS.

Matt Moore

Moore moved to the pen full-time with the Rangers this season, proving to be a huge success. Not only did he give Texas 63 games and 74 innings, but he did it with a 1.95 ERA. Moore added 14 holds and five saves and would give the Cubs an excellent left-handed piece in the late innings.

Alex Young

Alex Young may be the less familiar of the names on this list, but that doesn't mean anything. Originally a Clevland Guardian relief pitcher, Young was traded to the Giants in 2022, where he posted a 2.39 ERA across 24 games. Sure, he doesn't have as much experience as others, but given his relationship with Carter Hawkins, you have to think these two are talking.

Not only are the Cubs looking for a lefty reliever, but they are also looking for a closer unless they commit to Thompson. Both Smith and Hand fill both of those needs as they are lefties and lefty closers that have had a ton of success. The 6-5 Smith has been around for 10 years and has posted a 3.59 ERA over that time.

His best days were with the Giants when he never had an ERA over 3.00, but he got back on track with the Astros in 2022. Smith has 91 career saves, with 37 coming in 2021 with the Braves and 34 coming in 2017 with the Giants. He may not be a closer anymore, but he is a very valuable piece to have in the back end of your pen.

Hand is the most intriguing name on this list, mainly because of the closing experience. Coming off a season where he posted a 2.80 ERA across 55 games with the Phillies, Hand continued a long run of success where he has gone seven straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00. Six of those years have seen him below 3.30 as he continues to deliver.

He has 66 holds to his name and 131 career saves, as he could give the Cubs multiple uses for him. Regardless, these are some lefties they could actively pursue on the market.

Other free-agent relievers include Wily Peralta (RHP), Matt Wisler (RHP), David Phelps (RHP), Ralph Garza Jr (RHP), Jackson Stephens (RHP), and Michael Fulmer (RHP). However, look for them to pursue the lefties first unless they come to finalize something with Fulmer.

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