Projected 2023 Payroll: Not nearly enough
Notable Free Agents: Willson Contreras (pictured above), Drew Smyly
Could they use Aaron Judge?: Absofuckinglutely, but the Ricketts would worry about the damage to the buildings they own across the street.
What could they use other than Judge: Other than a change of ownership that’s not coming, they could use acting like the only big market team in the division. The Cubs should lord over this division financially, which means they should lord over it in the standings too given what’s already here.
The Cubbies definitely need a No. 1 starter, especially considering that it’s hard to know what they might get from Kyle Hendricks now that he missed a large chunk of the end of last season with shoulder problems. And given his repertoire and stuff, even though he expertly toed the line on his margin of error, it was still Wallenda thin. Justin Steele was a nice surprise last year, and we assume Marcus Stroman will still pitch in between the days he’s running errands for Kyrie Irving, but both are mid-rotation guys rather than the top. Seeing as how the Ricketts family would treat any eight- or 10-year deal like its own personal tax hike, a two- or three-year deal for just a lot of money for a deGrom or Verlander to bridge the gap to whatever creature the Cubs’ overhyped Pitch Lab produces that can take the reins after that would seem to make a lot of sense. Or they could package a collection of their supposedly much-respected prospect group for Shohei Ohtani. Instead, they’ll do what they did last year, and probably sign a guy off the B-List, or try and shroud that cheaper avenue by getting the spicy Japanese import in Kodai Senga who throws 123 MPH but also can’t find the plate.