Cubs Predicted to Add Projected $168 Million Starter & Top Closer in ‘Bold’ Trades

Cubs president Jed Hoyer could be busy this summer.

Getty Cubs president Jed Hoyer could be busy this summer.

It’s not our money. But if The Athletic is predicting—boldly, no doubt—that the Cubs will be willing to make some major moves that will spend Tom Ricketts’ money, we’re all for it. In fact, the site is pegging the Cubs to what will surely be the most significant moves in MLB this summer, trading not only for Cleveland Guardians ace Shane Bieber, but also for the Red Sox’s Kenley Jansen, arguably the best closer of the last decade.

The key to all this is the development of some of the best assets in baseball thanks to a bustling farm system that Baseball America ranks No. 4 in all of baseball.

Here’s how The Athletic beat writer Patrick Mooney lays out the scenario for the Cubs: “Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins will make some of the biggest moves at the trade deadline, using one of the game’s top farm systems to acquire Shane Bieber and Kenley Jansen and try to win the National League’s blah division.”

Again, we second that motion.

Shane Bieber, Kenley Jansen Getting Over Health Issues

Certainly, a trade for Bieber is the more notable here. He is 28 years old and has a Cy Young Award to his credit, with a career mark of 60-32 with a 3.27 ERA and a WHIP of 1.118. He will be worth keeping an eye on because he is a free agent next year, but is coming off a bout of elbow inflammation that limited him in 2023.

He was 6-6 with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP last season, uncharacteristic by his standards. But if he returns to form, he will be in line for a major payout next winter—seven years and $168 million, according to The Athletic’s Tim Britton.

Whether the Cubs would be willing to keep him around long-term is up for debate, but he could certainly help bring home a pennant in the short term.

Jansen, meanwhile, already has one foot out the door with the rebuilding Red Sox. Injuries slowed him this spring, which scuttled plans to trade him before the start of the season. He is slated to make $16 million this year and is coming off a season in which he had a 3.63 ERA and 29 saves.

He is 36 and nearing the end of his career, but Jansen has playoff experience—a World Series ring and 59 career postseason appearances—and would be a valuable anchor for a solid Cubs bullpen.

Cubs’ Taxes, Payroll Remain an Issue

There are some X-factors around the Cubs’ willingness and ability to make such bold moves. It probably won’t be too costly to acquire Jansen, unless he pitches well this season and Boston can create a bidding market for him. Even still, he is a short-term rental.

Bieber would be more costly, and the Cubs would have to give up multiple prospects to get him. There will surely be competition to deal for him, if the Guardians go that route. They’re in a weak division, too, and could have a realistic shot at the postseason, meaning Bieber won’t be available.

And there’s Ricketts. If the Cubs can stomach giving up the prospects, can the team realistically make these moves and stay under the tax line?

Ricketts has shown no willingness to allow the team over that $237 million tax threshold. According to Spotrac, the Cubs are at $230 million in projected payroll, just under the tax.

So, the scenario is not just bold, but it is a longshot. Still, it’s possible and on a Cubs team that has fewer holes than the rest of the N.L. Central, it’s worth rooting for.

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