Cubs rumors: Ohtani pitch becoming clear, Bo Bichette trade, reliever fix

  • Cubs might break with tradition and sign multi-year reliever
  • Bo Bichette-Cubs rumors hit boiling point
  • Cubs' plan to lure Shohei Ohtani is obvious

Shohei Ohtani, Bo Bichette
Shohei Ohtani, Bo Bichette / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Cubs Rumors: Chicago could sign multi-year reliever despite recent history

The Chicago Cubs haven't given a relief pitcher a multi-year contract since LHP Brian Duensing signed a two-year, $7 million deal in 2017. That was six years ago. The Chicago front office has operated with abundant caution when it comes to paying relievers, but that strategy could change in the weeks to come.

Jed Hoyer and the Cubs are expected to pursue a wide range of high-profile free agents this offseason. The team already lured Craig Counsell away from the Milwaukee Brewers with the most expensive manager contract in league history. Now, according to Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Counsell's arrival could motivate Chicago to change their approach to the free-agent reliever market.

"Perhaps paying extra for that late-inning experience and know-how could be rationalized knowing that Counsell will make data-driven decisions, create opportunities for rookie relievers and manage his pitching staff for the marathon."

The Cubs' bullpen was a mess last season. Counsell, however, is famed for his analytical mind and his masterful handling of the Brewers' pitching staff. He knows how to pull the right strings and position his relievers for success. That could be enough to get the Cubs spending more than usual to lock up an established weapon to eat middle or late innings.

Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation has a few ideas as far as who the Cubs might target: "Josh Hader, Yuki Matsui, Jordan Hicks, Yariel Rodriguez, Robert Stephenson, Nick Martinez, and Craig Counsell’s old friend Brent Suter, among others."

Money talks. In free agency, the best players tend to follow the cash. If the Cubs want to sign the best relievers available, it may require a two or three-year investment. If that's the case, Counsell should give the front office a measure of confidence that the investment won't go awry.