My Christmas wish list for the Cubs roster Part 2
David Banks - USA Today Sports

My Christmas wish list for the Cubs roster Part 2


by - Staff Writer -

The Cubs have already had an impactful offseason. It started with the surprise firing of David Ross and the hiring of Craig Counsell to a record contract for a manager. The Cubs saw an opportunity to acquire one of the best managers in the sport, swooped in and poached him from the rival Brewers, and kept him from going elsewhere.

That type of aggressiveness seemed to indicate that the Cubs were in for a busy offseason, one that should bring multiple big-name players to the Northside and fully open the window of contention for the Cubbies.

It is the season of Christmas — and despite a winning season in 2023 and acquiring Counsell, the Cubs do have some holes to address in their roster to improve for 2024 and beyond. So, with Christmas being the theme, here are the 12 wishes of Christmas for the Cubs.

Here are wishes 7-12:

First Base / DH / CF

This wish has a lot of ifs and buts attached to it. If you sign Cody Bellinger or Shohei Ohtani or both, one or two, or all three question marks have their answers. Also, if one of Pete Crow-Armstong or Alexander Canario breaks camp with the team and performs, another of these question marks, in theory, has its answer. That’s three ifs, but there is a universe where the answers to these questions are Cody Bellinger, Shohei Ohtani, and Pete Crow-Armstrong. With the free agents, there has to be some doubt attached just based on the sheer amount of interested teams, and there was a lot to be desired of both PCA and Canario in limited at-bats, so there is a chance you will have to answer all three of these questions.

On the current roster, Mike Tauchman provides some excellent insurance in center, Christopher Morel’s versatility is valuable, and Matt Mervis still exists— but there are some options outside of the organization who create some intrigue. Rhys Hoskins has been connected with the Cubs throughout the winter and seems like a logical fit — as does former Cub Jorge Soler, to name a few. This trio of positional uncertainty will be answered over time, but as of right now, there are a myriad of possibilities.

Pitching Pitching Pitching

Duh! Right? The Cubs actually will likely break camp with six players capable of starting and two highly touted prospects nearing their debuts with Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Assad, Jameson Taillon, Drew Smyly, Jordan Wicks, Cade Horton and Ben Brown. However, I think everybody knows if this rotation wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs in 2023, they obviously will need a boost in 2024. Marcus Stroman electing to opt out for free agency makes this ever so apparent. The Cubs need at least one, but hopefully two, starters this offseason. Ohtani, as high as he is on the priority list, won’t pitch this year — so the top priority here is Yamamoto. Still, players like Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Eduardo Rodriguez, Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty, Shota Imanaga, and Stroman are all on the market, as well as players like Tyler Glasnow, Dylan Cease, Shane Bieber, and Logan Gilbert rumored to be available via trade. Expect the Cubs to be highly active in this market.

Bullpen

Similar to the wish above, you can never have enough bullpen help. While it is unknown if the Cubs will shop at the high end of this market for players like Josh Hader or an Aroldis Chapman reunion, the Cubs will undoubtedly look to add some high-leverage guys. Mark Leiter Jr., Julian Merryweather, and Adbert Alzolay were excellent in 2023 and look to be a fixture in the bullpen for 2024, but relying on those three to put up similar numbers isn’t enough. Bullpens are volatile, and many of the innings in 2024 could come from guys already in-house — but you STILL need to add some veteran, trustworthy late-inning relief help to shorten the game and bolster the roster as a hole.

Justin Steele extension

After a top-5 Cy Young finish for Justin Steele, he certainly appears to be a cornerstone for the Cubs rotation of the future. He is just 28, so what better time to capitalize on his momentum and lock him down for the future as a top pitcher in your rotation? I’m sure the Cubs plan to do this at some point; it is not urgent, as he still has years of arbitration to go. But Steele seems to be the type of player the Cubs want around long term, so why not take advantage and get it done?

Prospect Progress / Debuts

We got a taste of Jordan Wicks, Matt Mervis, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Alexander Canario in 2023. While all three will assuredly be with the club at some point in 2024, seeing them grow and improve would be a wish for the Cubs as well. But so would seeing players like Kevin Alcantara, Brennan Davies, Owen Cassie, Matt Shaw, Moises Ballesteros, Cade Horton, Ben Brown, and Jackson Ferris continue to take steps and potentially make their debuts in an intriguing 2024 season.

Depth

Last but not least, depth is something all teams need. Whether in the rotation, in the bullpen, as a fifth outfielder, or as a backup for Dansby Swanson — having insurance plans all over the diamond makes good teams better.

Thanks for reading our Cubs Christmas List.

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