MLB Insider: What will the rest of the Cubs offseason look like?

Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga
Chicago Cubs Introduce Shōta Imanaga / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

For the first 4-6 weeks of the offseason, my Twitter mentions were filled with the same question from Chicago Cubs fans: is Jed Hoyer sleeping?

No, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations was not sleeping. Hardly. He hired Craig Counsell and gave him the largest contract for a manager in baseball history. He then signed starting pitcher Shota Imanaga. He then acquired Michael Busch and Yency Almonte from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Most recently, he signed reliever Hector Neris to a one-year, $9 million contract that can max out at two years, $23.25 million.

Hoyer is not done. Hardly.

Hoyer cannot hire Counsell and then give him a worse roster and expect better results than last season when the Cubs won 83 games. He surely knows that. What’s likely partially playing into Hoyer’s slow offseason -- and, really, a slow offseason throughout baseball -- is the asking prices for free agents are too high.

But when the opportunity for value has presented itself, Hoyer has struck. He did it with Imanaga and Neris, signing both to team-friendly deals. And the expectation is that the Hoyer and the Cubs will remain active in the market.

MLB Insider: Projecting the rest of the Cubs offseason

Of course, there is Cody Bellinger, the talented outfielder who is coming off a breakout season with the Cubs. He’s reportedly seeking a $200 million contract in free agency and thus far, teams have scoffed at that price. There are teams interested in Bellinger, but considering the questions surrounding his shoulder injury and one season of elite production in the last four years, it will likely be a waiting game until his asking price comes down.

Matt Chapman, the talented infielder, could make sense for the Cubs if they miss out on Bellinger. The team’s interest in Rhys Hoskins waned after they added Michael Busch, envisioning him getting the bulk of the action at first base. But even if the Cubs get Bellinger, adding another left-handed hitter to balance out a right-handed heavy lineup could be a realistic scenario.

Another part of this upcoming season is giving young players such as Busch and Pete Crow-Armstrong opportunities in the lineup, and the Cubs ideally don’t want to block them from consistent playing time. The team also hopes Cade Horton, a top pitching prospect, can debut and make an impact at the major-league level.

What also should not be ruled out is the Cubs adding more pitchers. In Milwaukee, Counsell valued having as many “out getters” as possible to 1. keep his bullpen arms fresh and 2. maximize matchups. Despite signing Neris and acquiring Almonte, the Cubs continue to show interest in relief pitchers, sources say.

Hoyer and the Cubs’ front office is working behind the scenes. It’s taking a little bit longer than fans would like, and that’s okay. But the early returns on the offseason are encouraging and should give observers optimism that Hoyer will put an improved product on the field come Opening Day.

Patience, Cubs fans. Patience.

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