We are just about one month away from spring training baseball kicking off in Mesa, Arizona. Pitchers and catchers will begin reporting and we will start seeing some organized baseball being played, but speculation tells us we are far away from seeing the starting lineup the Chicago Cubs will trot out on the field for Opening Day against the defending champion Texas Rangers.
The Cubs have been reportedly active in free agency this offseason but have not had a lot to show for it - missing out on prized possessions like Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. They did, however, come through and sign left-handed pitcher Shota Imanaga to a 4-year deal.
As we approach the time for players to report and start another year of baseball, all eyes are on the Cubs and free agent Cody Bellinger. It's all but expected at this time the Cubs and Bellinger will reunite, but the Cubs will need to continue looking to fill out this roster. Big names like Bellinger and Matt Chapman are still on the market and available. Plus, they have been linked to the Cubs for a deal to be struck.
Landing those 2 big names would go a long way for the Cubs to start competing. This team was just 2-3 weeks of good baseball short of making the postseason in 2023. But why stop at just 2 more players? Here are some under-the-radar signings the Cubs can make to improve their chances of winning and competing for a World Series championship as soon as 2024.
1. Michael Lorenzen
The Cubs got an absolute dream season out of left-hander Justin Steele last season, who was one of the few finalists in the Cy Young Award race. Add a repeat performance from him to a bounce-back from Jameson Taillon, the return of Kyle Hendricks, and the filth from Imanaga, this staff could make some noise and make life easy for the bullpen.
The question comes to that fifth spot in the rotation. Javier Assad did a wonderful job filling in the backend of the rotation and providing long relief last season. Young left-hander Jordan Wicks came on the scene late in the year and proved he is worth a look, too. Plus, there are plenty of other young arms that are due to be special talents that are working their way through the minors.
But one more signing for the back end of the rotation could put the Cubs over the top. While a Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery would be incredible and absolutely welcomed, the Cubs could get away with signing a guy like Michael Lorenzen to a short-term deal.
Lorenzen is entering his 10th year in the majors, spending time in Cincinnati, Los Angeles (Angels), Detroit, and most recently with the Phillies in Philadelphia. After being traded to Philly, he struggled a bit down the stretch. But after getting sent to the bullpen, he seemed to settle down.
Lorenzen could be the fifth spot in the rotation or insurance as a long-middle reliever in key spots.