While the Cubs have had one of the their most active offseasons in recent memory, notably adding Jameson Taillon, Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger, it's very possible that we could see more action from the North Siders leading up to Opening Day.
According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Jed Hoyer's administration is not done making moves, highlighting a left-handed reliever market that still boasts notable names such as Brad Hand, Zack Britton and former Cub Andrew Chafin.
Though the bullpen served as a pleasant surprise for much of 2022 for the Cubs, several key relievers had moved on from the team even before the end of the season, with David Robertson, Chris Martin, Mychal Givens and Scott Effross all being dealt leading up to the trade deadline.
The Cubs enter 2023 with one solid left-handed relief option expected to contribute consistently, as 27-year-old Brandon Hughes looks to build off of a strong rookie campaign that saw him post 68 strikeouts and a 3.12 ERA across 57.2 innings of work.
On the other side of the mound, Rowan Wick and Michael Rucker also figure to be prominent bullpen pieces in 2023, with the Cubs also adding Brad Boxberger this offseason as an experienced late-game option.
The Cubs are also hopeful that right-hander Codi Heuer, who was acquired alongside Nick Madrigal in a trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox, can contribute at a high level in 2023 after missing the 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery.
Former Cub Andrew Chafin is perhaps the most compelling left-handed option remaining on the market for both fans and the front office, as Chafin continues a stretch of excellent play that began during his time with the Cubs in early 2021.
After posting a 1.83 ERA across 71 games and 68.2 innings with the Cubs and Athletics in 2021, Chafin went on to have another great season for a fledgling Tigers team in 2022.
Chafin, who will turn 33 in June, registered a 3.06 FIP and 2.83 ERA with 67 strikeouts across 57.1 innings in the Motor City last year, appearing in 64 games and picking up three saves.
Former top prospect and starter-turned-reliever Matt Moore also figures to be a strong fit for the Cubs, after the left-hander seemed to have found a career renaissance in 2022 following a move to the bullpen.
After posting sky-high ERA totals as primarily a starter in long reliever in 2017 and 2018 with the Giants and Rangers respectively, Moore appeared in just two games with the Tigers in 2019 before missing the remainder of the season after undergoing meniscus surgery.
Moore returned to the States following a successful one-year stint in Japan in 2020, but then struggled mightily as a starter and long reliever with the Phillies, posting a 6.29 ERA in 73 innings, with 38 walks and just 63 strikeouts.
The southpaw returned to Texas for a second stint with the Rangers ahead of 2022 and turned in perhaps the best season of his career since an All-Star campaign in 2013.
Moore picked up five saves and held a 5-2 record with a 1.95 ERA in 74 innings of work, walking 38 batters and recording 83 strikeouts, giving him a career-best 10.1 K/9 ratio.
Former All-Stars Zack Britton and Brad Hand are also free agent possibilities for the Cubs, though Britton, 35, is coming off of two injury-plagued seasons, appearing in just 25 games in 2021 and 2022 after having an excellent campaign in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Hand, who will turn 33 just before Opening Day, has had an effective journeyman career since first entering the MLB as a starter with the then-Florida Marlins in 2011.
The southpaw made three straight All-Star games from 2017 to 2019 in San Diego and Cleveland and has maintained solid production since, coming off of a strong season with the Phillies where he posted a 2.80 ERA across 55 games, allowing only two home runs in 45 innings.
Hand also has not posted a season ERA above 4.00 since 2015, solidifying his place as one of the game's most effective and durable relievers.
While Hand may not have the swing-and-miss stuff of his earlier career, he can likely offer the Cubs both a veteran clubhouse presence and consistent outs in middle-to-late inning situations.
Although it is not a certainty that the Cubs will add to their roster before Opening Day, the options on the left-handed reliever market offer noticeable and affordable improvement to the Cubs' chances at contention in 2023.
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