Cubs Still Looking at Lefty Relievers, Hoyer ‘Wouldn’t Be Shocked’ By Addition

The Cubs seemed to be intent on adding a lefty reliever to the bullpen mix in the days prior to camp officially opening, but most of the talk died down when they signed righty Michael Fulmer. That was less about need, or a lack thereof, and more about the remaining options presumably maintaining asking prices that were higher than the front office was willing to meet.

The market took a hit when Andrew Chafin signed for much less than anticipated, but Matt Moore got $7.55 million from the Angels not long after. Now that games have been underway for about a week, however, veterans Will Smith and Zack Britton might be getting a little anxious to secure a spot even if it means taking a discount. Both southpaws have been on the Cubs’ radar and it sounds like they still are.

Patrick Mooney listed both of those pitchers, adding Mike Minor and Brad Hand as being “among the names the Cubs have considered.” With something in the neighborhood of $8 million remaining below the $233 million CBT threshold, you have to figure the Cubs are looking to land someone with a low base salary and significant production incentives.

“We’re generally done,” Jed Hoyer told reporters Thursday. “But if someone came into camp, I wouldn’t be shocked, just because there are some players out there, in particular some relievers.”

Even if the front office manages to land a low-risk deal, they won’t be left with much room to make mid-season acquisitions. You have to assume some of those performance bonuses will be reached, so even taking on 40% or so of an impact player’s salary at the deadline could push them over. Tom Ricketts claimed recently that he’s willing to do that in the right situation, and everything would have to break the Cubs’ way to push them into luxury tax territory.

Hoyer’s quote is so coy it’s almost an admission that something is already in the works, especially knowing how reluctant he is to share much of anything before it’s done. It makes sense to bring in another veteran presence to secure a few late-inning outs, so keep your eyes open for a move in the coming days. I’d put my money on Britton based on his injury history and the Cubs’ long-running infatuation with him.

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