The non-tender deadline was Friday night and several players have now become free agents after not getting a new contract with their previous teams. Here are three players the Cubs should consider signing, who are now available in free agency.
The Cubs are going to have someone take over the majority of the playing time in center field next season and why not give Cody Bellinger a shot. The Cubs have already been linked to the left-handed hitter and will at least see if there is mutual interest from Bellinger.
As always, there’s a reason Bellinger was non-tendered from the Dodgers. He was projected to make about $18 million in the final year of arbitration and he’s simply not worth that following three brutal seasons at the plate. So, why should the Cubs even consider bringing him in to be the starter in center field?
Well, Bellinger would at least provide a huge upgrade defensively in center field, replacing Rafael Ortega and Christopher Morel, who mostly played there in 2022 for the Cubs. And hey, Bellinger still is only 27! Maybe all he needs is a change of scenery to maybe not return to his MVP form, but improve much closer to league average at the plate. He’s also a left-handed hitter that can still hit for some power. Even with his struggles offensively, Bellinger hit 19 home runs in 2022. Nothing to brag about, but that would have been the most out of any Cubs outfielder last season. This team is desperate for some power and Bellinger still has some of it.
And you know, there is the slight chance that Bellinger figures it all out again and becomes a stud for the Cubs in 2023.
Right-handed pitcher Alex Reyes was let go by the St. Louis on Friday and boy wouldn’t it be great if the Cubs got him healthy and rubbed it in the faces of Cardinals’ fans. The 28-year-old has pitched well in the majors, recording a 2.86 ERA in 102 games, striking out 11 batters per nine innings. Reyes has the talent, but injuries have completely stopped his momentum. He missed 2017 after having Tommy John surgery and then following his first All-Star Game in 2021, Reyes had shoulder surgery that forced him to miss all of 2022.
Signing Reyes would definitely go under the reclamation category, but the Cubs have had great success with those in recent years. Get him in the pitch lab and see how that right arm is doing.
Bring him back!
OK, so Jeimer Candelario was pretty bad with the Tigers in 2022, slashing .217/.272/.361, amounting to a rough 80 wRC+. So, why should the Cubs consider signing him? Well, he is only year removed from posting a strong 120 wRC+ in Detroit during the 2021 season. From 2018-21, the switch-hitting corner infielder slashed .244/.332/.412, with a 103 wRC+ and averaged about a 2 fWAR each season.
I have no idea if guys who showed increased power numbers prior to 2022 will get close to that again with the new balls and Candelario may not be the best fit on the current Cubs’ roster that already has Patrick Wisdom, Christopher Morel and Nick Madrigal all competing for playing time, but he makes a lot of contact and could be a useful depth player depending on other additions this offseason. Candelario will be 29-years-old next season.
So, any other new free agents who you’d like to see with the Cubs?