3 Rhys Hoskins backup plans the Chicago Cubs should act on now

The Chicago Cubs were unable to land Rhys Hoskins, who signed a two-year deal with Craig Counsell's former team.

Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chicago Cubs were considered a strong suitor for Rhys Hoskins very early in the free agency process. But, as MLB insider Jon Morosi warned all the way back on Dec. 18, the Cubs risked pushing Hoskins to another team with their patience. It eventually became clear the Cubs were no longer fits for Hoskins, but the final blow was delivered on Tuesday.

Hoskins officially signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on a two-year, $34 million contract. Not only will Hoskins not wear a Cubs uniform. He will be starkly opposed to Chicago on a division rival — Craig Counsell's former team, no less.

It's an affordable contract for a hitter of Hoskins' caliber. The 30-year-old first baseman missed all of last season to a torn ACL, which he suffered in spring training. Hoskins will integral to the Phillies' 2022 World Series run, however. He slashed .246/.332/.462 in the regular season with 30 home runs and 79 RBI in 589 AB.

He will anchor the middle of Milwaukee's lineup behind Christian Yelich and William Contreras. The NL Central champs just got better. It's a double dose of defeat for Chicago. They didn't get their guy, and now he is helping their most geographically inconvenient opponent.

Still, Chicago's front office has time to pivot. Here are a few viable alternatives in the free agent pool.

3. Cubs can rub salt in Reds' wound with Joey Votto signing

Somebody has to sign Joey Votto, right? Odds are Joey Votto would not earn full-time starter duties in Chicago, but he would add experience to the locker room and a potentially useful bat to the bench. Votto hit 36 home runs two seasons ago. He is 40 years old, and there's reason to believe his power-hitting days are behind him. But, with the market so dry, Chicago can give Votto a spot on the 40-man roster with very little financial commitment.

Votto made 242 plate appearances for the Cincinnati Reds last season. He slashed .202/.314/.433 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI, posting 27 walks and 62 strikeouts. Despite cratering hard-hit numbers, Votto still managed a respectful barrel percentage (11.0) and drew a considerable walk rate (11.2 percent). He's one of the best offensive first basemen of the last two decades. He can still work a count and illicit respect from the opposing pitcher.

It would be a bit depressing to see Votto's historic career end as a bench cog for the Reds' arch rival, but the Cubs can at least provide him with the opportunity for sporadic at-bats behind Michael Busch, Christopher Morel, and potentially Cody Bellinger on an aspirant contender. Counsell teams generally compete above their means, so Chicago has a chance to make a run.

Votto certainly wouldn't excite the fanbase, but if Chicago wants affordable first base depth, he's not the worst possible option on a one-year farewell contract.