Cubs Expected to ‘Have Plenty of Money’ for Projected $500 Million Free Agent

Jed Hoyer

Getty Chicago Cubs president Jed Hoyer is projected to have the payroll flexibility needed to entice the biggest free agents after the 2024 season.

The Chicago Cubs agreed to a reunion with one of the best hitters in this free agent class, signing Cody Bellinger to a three-year, $80 million contract shortly after Spring Training began.

But the team has also been linked to the best hitter projected to hit free agency next offseason, with Zachary Rotman of FanSided explaining that the team is set to have the necessary capital to add Juan Soto, who is projected to earn $540 million wherever he signs, per The Athletic’s Tim Britton.

“The Cubs can easily look to bring Soto in and backload the contract, making it feasible to keep the veterans under contract right now alongside him while making Soto more money when they have more wiggle room in just a couple of years,” Rotman explained. “This offseason alone, the Cubs will get $22.5 million off of their books with Kyle Hendricks and Yan Gomes set to hit free agency, and if Cody Bellinger opts out of his contract, that’s another $27.5 million.”

Noting that the “Cubs signing Juan Soto is realistic because they should have plenty of money to spend,” Rotman added that the team will have notable payroll flexibility past the 2026 season, with only star shortstop Dansby Swanson holding a contract that’s guaranteed beyond that. Swanson signed a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Cubs in 2022.

Juan Soto Would Give the Chicago Cubs a Generational On-Base Talent

As one of the greatest hitters of his generation, Soto is projected to be paid accordingly after he hits free agency as a 26-year-old next season.

Virtually every contending team will be vying to entice him, with his current one, the New York Yankees, possibly holding the inside track. But the Cubs have a strong case to become his destination of choice.

“It’s not for lack of trying that the Cubs aren’t already on the hook to pay a franchise slugger hundreds of millions of dollars,” Zachary Rymer noted for Bleacher Report, pointing out that the team had been in the offseason running for Shohei Ohtani, who currently holds the record for the largest contract in MLB history. “Soto is not Ohtani, of course, but he is a fellow left-handed slugger who would be a dandy of a fix… Plus, he might make more sense for the Cubs from a financial perspective.”

In six MLB seasons, Soto has slashed .284/.421/.524, leading the majors in OBP in that time. He has career totals of 160 homers, 483 RBI and 50 stolen bases. In a 2023 campaign that saw him earn his third All-Star bid, MVP votes and his fourth Silver Slugger Award, Soto slashed .275/.410/.519 with an MLB-leading 132 walks.

Likely hitting ahead of Aaron Judge for the Yankees this season, Soto could certainly win the American League MVP as he reaches the open market.

What Might Keep the Chicago Cubs From Landing Juan Soto?

As Soto will likely be one of the most highly-sought free agents in MLB history, the Cubs will have a challenge ahead if they hope to sign him.

Though the Cubs seem to be willing to spend significant capital to remain competitive in the near future, the team’s history suggests they may not be in the same league as some of the other big-market franchises, even with a flexible payroll.

“The Cubs are a big market team, but nothing with how they’ve acted in recent years suggests that they’re willing to outbid aggressive spenders,” Rotman noted. “If Soto only accepts an offer from the highest bidder, the Cubs might have no shot here.”

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