As mentioned toward the end of a recent piece about freeing up roster spots when the 60-day IL opens up next Wednesday, the Cubs should indeed remain active in free agency. Patrick Mooney wrote for The Athletic that the team is “planning to add another reliever before the first formal workout for pitchers and catchers next week in Arizona.” The Cubs could reach an agreement on a big league deal prior to February 15, then they can formalize it without a corresponding move by shifting players to the IL.
Old friend Andrew Chafin and the well-traveled Matt Moore, the latter of whom had his fastball up to 94 mph last season after being at 93 or below since 2012, have both been mentioned a lot. Zack Britton was frequently connected to the Cubs as a trade target during his Baltimore days and has thrown for teams in an attempt to rebuild his value following two injury-riddled seasons in New York.
Lefty Will Smith is another interesting name and his asking price will certainly be a lot lower than the $13 million option the Astros declined to make him a free agent. His slider-heavy approach has yielded a few too many homers over the last three seasons and he had a lot of trouble with right-handed batters last year, but the Cubs are light on southpaws and might see some ways to revive Smith’s performance.
I’d expect Jed Hoyer to sign one of these free-agent relievers soon, then the Cubs may keep a couple roster spots open to see who emerges from among a group of prospects and vets on minor-league deals.