Cubs Linked to 3-Time All-Star Projected to Sign $260 Million Deal

jed hoyer

Getty The Cubs could use another starting pitcher for 2024. But is Jed Hoyer saving his pennies to pursue Corbin Burnes next winter?

The Chicago Cubs made one major addition to their 2024 rotation this past winter. It included signing Shōta Imanaga to a four-year, $53 million deal. They could stand to make another move, but does president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer prefer to wait for starting pitcher Corbin Burnes to become available in November?

Rich Eberwein of FanSided’s Cubbies Crib picked Burnes as a “way too early” Cubs free agent target. The right-hander is a familiar face, too. He spent the last six seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers before getting traded to the Baltimore Orioles in February.

“Burnes’ impeccable command, devastating cutter, and high strikeout percentage would be the perfect compliment to Justin Steele’s groundball-inducing repertoire,” he said. “And with Cade Horton likely making his way to the majors this season, the Cubs could be looking at one of the best starting rotations in the game a year from now.”

The right-handed hurler is in his last year of team control before he’s expected to hit the open market next winter. According to Spotrac, he’ll make $15.637 million in 2024. The Athletic’s Tim Britton calculated the value of a potential extension for Burnes on March 4, as well. His projection was for eight years and $260 million.

Have Cubs Passed on Top Free Agents to Wait for Burnes?

This past offseason’s slow-moving free-agent market is still in process. Reigning National League Cy Young winner Blake Snell and World Series champion Jordan Montgomery remain available.

The Cubs’ rotation already could’ve used another top-of-the-rotation hurler. That’s only become more apparent now that Jameson Taillon is sidelined with a lower-back injury. Although Chicago hasn’t been connected to Snell very seriously, Montgomery has seemed like a realistic target. “Locked on Cubs” podcast host Matt Cozzi wants the Cubs to bring Monty to the Windy City.

“There’s a starter with a strong resume that remains unsigned. Jordan Montgomery is the one that .. still remains unsigned and in my mind he still remains a great fit for the Cubs,” he said.

It also seems like manager Craig Counsell wouldn’t mind inserting Montgomery into his 2024 rotation. While getting ready to announce the Cody Bellinger signing, Counsell joked with agent Scott Boras about also bringing the left-hander along.

Signing With Chicago Would Be a Reunion — Kind Of

Burnes has faced the Cubs as a National League Central foe for the past six seasons. He didn’t really have a connection to them until Counsell agreed to be their next manager. Before landing with Chicago, the skipper had been with the Brewers since 2015. So, he had been the only manager Burnes has pitched for prior to getting traded.

Counsell surely brings unique insight regarding the right-handed ace that’s likely valuable in the front office’s player evaluations. It’ll also be hard to find a more dependable ace on the open market next winter. Burnes won the 2021 NL Cy Young Award but has been an elite producer since 2020.

Over his last 622.1 innings pitched, he’s produced a 37-22 record for Milwaukee. This has been accompanied by a 2.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 765 strikeouts. If the Cubs are waiting for Burnes to become available, there will likely be plenty of competition for his services. Zack Wheeler’s three-year extension with the Philadelphia Phillies took him off next offseason’s free-agent market. It’s also made Burnes the top-ranked starting pitcher, per CBS Sports.

Read More