(670 The Score) Improving offensively is a priority for the Cubs this offseason after they were 22nd in runs per game in 2022.
With that in mind, the Cubs will soon be in discussions with representatives for first baseman Jose Abreu, whose chances of returning to the White Sox are close to zero, according to multiple sources. Abreu has played his entire nine-year MLB career on the South Side, but he understood by season’s end that the White Sox’s roster logjam of first basemen and designated hitters would almost certainly mean he’d head elsewhere in free agency this offseason.
Abreu, who will turn 36 in January, remains near the top of the Cubs’ wish list in free agency, as sources first told 670 The Score back in mid-October. He hit .304 with 15 homers, 78 RBIs and an .824 OPS in 157 games for the White Sox this past season. While his power numbers dipped, Abreu still has been named a Silver Slugger finalist and could help boost a Cubs offense that needs run-producing bats in the middle of the order.
If they get their way, the Cubs will act quickly in the Abreu sweepstakes in free agency.
Abreu isn’t the only player the Cubs will be looking at on the open market. They want to add a veteran pitcher to a starting rotation that performed well in the second half of the 2022 season.
Right-hander Corey Kluber, 36, is on the Cubs’ radar, sources said. He was 10-10 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 164 innings across 31 starts for the Rays in 2022. He struck out 139 batters and walked just 21.
The Cubs like the young pitching making its way through their organization, so it would be ideal for them to spend money on veteran pitchers in free agency on one- or two-year deals.
Adding another catcher is also on the Cubs’ to-do list as veteran Willson Contreras plans to decline the $19.65-million qualifying offer that the club will extend. Catchers available in free agency include Mike Zunino, Christian Vazquez, Roberto Perez, Omar Narvaez and Gary Sanchez. The Cubs previously have had interest in Tucker Barnhart as well, but he’s coming off a really poor offensive season in 2022.
Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has long stressed that the team wants to improve every offseason and spend intelligently in free agency.
“We want build a team that has a chance to compete for the playoffs,” Hoyer said in October. “That is the goal and what we want to accomplish. We also know where our minor league system is now – it’s younger prospect-wise. That means we will not be able to matriculate them all to the major leagues in 2023. We do have an eye on the future, but we want next year to look a lot more like out second half of 2022 (when the Cubs went 39-31 in their last 70 games). So our goal is to get better and play in October.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.