MLB Rumors: 3 free agents Cubs need to sign next after getting Hector Neris

The Chicago Cubs swooped in and signed Hector Neris to a one-year, $9 million contract. Who should Jed Hoyer target next?

Hector Neris, Houston Astros
Hector Neris, Houston Astros / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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2. Cubs should add Matt Chapman to vacuum-seal infield

One of the most popular Cubs free agent targets these days is Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman. While there's still a chance Toronto re-signs him, the 30-year-old is due for a healthy pay raise. Chapman struggled at the plate in 2023, but he has a relatively strong track record and his defense is beyond reproach.

Last season marked Chapman's fourth Gold Glove. He only committed 12 errors in 137 games at third base while recording a Total Zone (Rtot) rating of 15. Chapman consistently makes the difficult plays at the hot corner, both with his glove and with his arm. The Cubs are generally built with defense in mind. Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner are all-consuming in the middle infield. With Chapman, Chicago would have the best defensive infield in the National League, without question.

He can also help at the plate. Chapman was off-kilter last season, slashing .240/.330/.424 with 17 home runs and 54 RBI in 509 AB. Even so, he's a regular power source, with back-to-back 27 home run campaigns before 2023. His hard-hit rate (56.3 percent) landed in the MLB's 100th percentile. That's what folks in the industry call a positive indicator. The Cubs need more pop in the middle of their lineup and Chapman can oblige.

He's the perfect Chicago free agent. He fits their defense-first mentality, but he will also give Counsell another bat to play with — one the team desperately needs to build on last season's 83-win finish. If there's one position in need of an upgrade in Chicago, it's third base. Chapman is a step or several above Nick Madrigal.