Latest Rumors Surrounding Cubs Free Agent Targets – News Today

Latest Rumors Surrounding Cubs Free Agent Targets

Josh Hader, Robert Stephenson, Matt Moore and Aroldis Chapman have recently signed free agent deals as the reliever market has finally picked up in January. The Chicago Cubs are expected to sign at least one reliever and while there are still some good options remaining, the list of quality bullpen arms is shrinking.

Latest Rumors Surrounding Cubs Free Agent Targets

The latest rumors surrounding a few Cubs free agent targets may indicate that we may see more action soon. Ryne Stanek, who has been with the Houston Astros since 2021, appears to be in the closing stages of negotiations. He was linked to the Cubs by two Chicago reporters last week and on Thursday USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Boston Red Sox also have interest in Stanek along with the Cubs.

The Cubs and Red Sox are two big market teams who have expressed interest in veteran reliever Ryne Stanek

In addition to the Cubs and Red Sox targeting Stanek,’s Mark Feinsand reported on Tuesday that the New York Mets have the 32-year-old righty on their radar.

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The Mets have interest in RHP Ryne Stanek as a bullpen option, per source. The 31-year-old had a 2.90 ERA in 186 appearances with the Astros from 2021-23.

So, with three big-market teams in the mix for Stanek, we’ll see just how much the Cubs value the hard-throwing reliever because as we’ve seen with this Cubs front office, it hasn’t been willing to out-bid others for relief pitchers. Of course, if Stanek prefers to sign with the Cubs, then a bidding war may not be necessary.

Meanwhile, former Cubs closer David Robertson, who has been linked to the North Side this offseason, is now getting interest from the Texas Rangers according to Jon Heyman.

Rangers continue to talk to relievers and are showing interest in David Robertson

Other relievers that have been connected to the Cubs this offseason include Ryan Brasier, Adam Ottavino and Phil Maton. More on that trio below.

(Previous Update)

Robert Stephenson was linked to the Chicago Cubs throughout the offseason, but you can now cross him off the list as the right-handed reliever has reportedly signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

Stephenson, who had a remarkable stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in the final 3+ months of the 2023 season, is getting a three-year contract worth $33 million.

The Angels have made their first free-agency splash of the offseason, agreeing to a three-year, $33 million deal with reliever Robert Stephenson.

Out of the names recently connected to the Cubs in free agency rumors, Stephenson was definitely an exciting option for Cubs fans to think about. The soon-to-be 31-year-old pitcher was dominant with the Rays, putting together the best run of his career after some adjustments in Tampa Bay.

To be fair, Stephenson hasn’t had much of a sustained track record of success, posting a career 4.91 ERA with the Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates prior to his time in Tampa Bay. But again, those adjustments with the Rays did look real and resulted in one of the best relievers in baseball down the stretch.

As for the contract, well, this Cubs front office and even going back to Theo Epstein’s time in charge, just has not been willing to sign relievers to 3+ year long contracts.

So, with Robertson off to Los Angeles and Josh Hader heading to the Houston Astros, the Cubs will have to look elsewhere to add to their bullpen via free agency this offseason.

(Previous Update)

The offseason wishlist of relievers may be coming into focus for the Chicago Cubs, as a few names have now been repeatedly connected to them. You can now also add two more free agents the Cubs are interested in signing.

Earlier this week, Bruce Levine mentioned a trio of right-handed relievers that are on the Cubs radar and two of those names were once again linked to them by The Athletic on Friday.

Via The Athletic.

Robert Stephenson, Phil Maton, David Robertson and Ryne Stanek are all names to watch as the Cubs look for another high-leverage arm to pair with Adbert Alzolay and Julian Merryweather in the late innings. As much as fans would love for the team to add a no-doubt closer, it just may not be in the cards.

Robert Stephenson, who was incredible with the Tampa Bay Rays to end the second half of last season and Ryne Stanek, who has been a consistent late-inning reliever with the Houston Astros for the past three years, were also discussed by Levine as free agent options for the Cubs. (more below) The two new names the Cubs are reportedly looking at are Phil Maton and David Robertson.

Fans will be much more familiar with Robertson, who spent the first half of the 2022 season as the Cubs closer before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for starting pitching prospect Ben Brown. Robertson has had a great resurgence late in his career, posting a 2.72 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, with 159 strikeouts in 129 innings in his last two seasons combined. In 2023, Robertson pitched for the New York Mets and had a good year, recording a 3.03 ERA in 65.1 innings.

Robertson, now 38, will most likely sign a one-year deal this offseason.

Meanwhile, Maton’s career didn’t stabilize until he was traded to the Houston Astros in the summer of 2021. Since joining the Astros, the right-handed reliever has posted a 3.67 ERA in 157 innings. The 30-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, as Maton put up a 3.00 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 66 innings with Houston in 2023. The righty struck out a career best 74 batters and walked 25 over his 68 appearances.

Maton also has an incredible track record in the postseason, allowing a total of 2 earned runs in 21.1 playoff innings with the Cleveland Guardians and Astros. That’s a 0.83 ERA, with a 22/5 strikeout to walk ratio in 20 career postseason games.

Previous Update)

Jed Hoyer mentioned how the team’s offseason is only in the fourth or fifth inning this past weekend at the Cubs Convention, so there’s plenty of work to get done. One area that needs to be addressed is the bullpen and according to 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine the Cubs are currently looking at three free agent relievers.

Levine was on the Mully & Haugh Show Wednesday morning and while discussing several Cubs topics he brought up the three free agent relievers that the Cubs are currently interested in. While the Cubs have been in talks with the Cleveland Guardians for their All-Star closer Emmanual Clase, the asking price has been absurd, so those discussions may be on hold. Josh Hader may become a target for the Cubs, but that may only happen if the free agent isn’t offered any $100 million deals and his asking price comes down on a shorter deal.

So, that’s why the Cubs have a few more options on their radar.

Let’s begin with Robert Stephenson, who has previously been linked to the Cubs this offseason. The 30-year-old has put up mixed results throughout his eight-year MLB career, but when you take a look at what he did with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2023, you definitely see a guy who may have figured it out and finally has all the pieces together.

The right-hander began 2023 with the Pittsburgh Pirates after a solid end to his 2022 season that saw Stephenson record a 3.38 ERA in 13 appearances in Pittsburgh. However, in his second year with the Pirates, Stephenson struggled, posting a 5.14 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 14 innings. On June 2, 2023, Stephenson was traded to the Rays for Alika Williams. And guess what happened when Stephenson got to Tampa Bay?

He was awesome.

Stephenson started to throw his cutter more often with the Rays and by the end of the season it was one of the most dominant pitches in baseball, ranking as the fifth-highest whiff rate pitch in the league. The right-handed reliever finished with a 2.35 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in 38.1 innings with Tampa Bay, while also striking out 60 batters and allowing just 8 walks in his 42 appearances.

The Cubs have been able to bring in guys who have great stuff and get the most out of their talent. We saw that last year with Julian Merryweather. The Rays have been doing it for years and Stephenson is a product of that and he’d be an exciting addition to the Cubs bullpen despite his overall middling career numbers.

Ryne Stanek has been a dependable reliever in the Houston Astros bullpen for the past three seasons, recording a 2.90 ERA in 186 games. The 32-year-old righty did take a step back in 2023, posting a 4.09 ERA in 50.2 innings. That was a season-low in innings after missing a few weeks in September on the injured list because of a sprained ankle.

Stanek will attack hitters with his high-90s fastball that does hit 100mph on the radar gun along with a splitter and slider. Stanek has been a consistent performer throughout his career that began with the Rays in 2017. His only down years were his rookie season in Tampa Bay and a bad 10-inning sample size with the Miami Marlins in the shortened 2020 season.

Stanek also has playoff success, posting a 2.70 ERA in 20 postseason innings.

And yes, Ryne Stanek is named after Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Adam Ottavino declined his 2024 player option with the New York Mets that was worth $6.75 million after he approached them to re-work an extension and was shown no interest from the Mets. The 38-year-old has long been an underrated reliever with only one full season that can be considered bad.

Ottavino has pitched with the St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and for the past two years the Mets. The right-hander has a career 3.42 ERA in 687 innings. He had a solid 2023 season, ending the year with a 3.21 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 61.2 innings.

He’d be fine, but his age would worry me a bit. That being said, outside of 2020, Ottavino has logged at least 60 innings in 8 of his 11 full seasons in the big leagues. That includes making at least 63 relief appearances in six straight seasons taking out 2020.

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