Cubs Reportedly ‘Have a Few Offers on the Table’ for Pitchers, Who Are They?

In his report on what’s slowing up the free-agent market — namely Shohei Ohtani, Giancarlo Stanton, and Scott Boras — Bruce Levine noted that the Cubs “have a few offers on the table for starting pitching and relief specialists.” While that notion isn’t very novel in and of itself, the fact that the Cubs have apparently made some actual offers is a very important distinction.

We’ve all known that the Cubs were going to pursue several different pitchers to fill out both the rotation and the bullpen, but we’ve only heard that they’ve had interest in a few players up until now. Though he doesn’t specifically say to whom the offers have been extended, Levine does list several of the usual suspects: Alex Cobb, Brandon Morrow, Bryan Shaw, Lance Lynn, and Yu Darvish.

Wade Davis is named as well, but with the caveat that the Cubs won’t be the team that sets the market for closers. It seems equally unlikely that they’d do so for starters, which is what an offer to Darvish would do. Levine refers to Darvish and Lynn as “pitchers to watch,” so I’m walking that back to say that neither is among those who’ve received salary figures from the Cubs.

Cobb, on the other hand, is a pretty good candidate to have been among the offers. He and the Cubs have some obvious connections and he hasn’t been shy about acknowledging them publicly. And with the Rangers, Orioles, Brewers, and Twins all expressing interest in Cobb and other top pitchers, the Cubs know they’ll need to be aggressive if they hope to land their preferred target(s).

Shaw is another likelihood, as we learned a few days ago that he’d received multi-year offers from two unknown teams. The righty reliever, who just turned 30 earlier in November, has appeared in an MLB-leading 378 games over the last five seasons and is projected to land a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $21 million. That sounds like something the Cubs would be interested in.

Morrow is another pitcher frequently discussed as a Cubs target, so it figures he’d also be among those to whom they extended offers. Though he’ll turn 34 next season, the converted starter has relatively low mileage and has seen an increase in velocity since becoming a full-time reliever. He’s expected to command just a little more than Shaw and could give the Cubs some insurance against Davis possibly signing elsewhere.

So my hypothesis is that the Cubs have already provided offers to Cobb, Shaw, and Morrow, with several more possibilities in the offing. It’s unlikely we see much resolution to these matters in the immediate future, what with the stagnation in the market and all, but I’d guess the Winter Meetings bring some serious movement.

Most of that movement on the Cubs’ end will likely be to replenish a bullpen that could be a little lighter by Friday, which I suppose goes without saying. While they won’t be the ones setting the market, the Cubs will absolutely be very active in that second tier of free agency once it finally thaws. Strap in, things are about to get fun.

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