Relief Market Movement? Fresh MLB Rumors on Chafin and Chapman Could Be a Signal

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Relief Market Movement? Fresh MLB Rumors on Chafin and Chapman Could Be a Signal

Chicago Cubs

Here’s what we know as it relates to the Chicago Cubs and the MLB relief market.

Team President Jed Hoyer indicated that the front office was still working on some moves as of this weekend, and suggested that adding another bat (presumably he was thinking about Trey Mancini) and another arm for the bullpen could be on the way. The relief market still features a number of high-quality arms, and the Cubs have previously been rumored to have interest in lefties Andrew Chafin and Matt Moore, and righty Michael Fulmer. There are other interesting arms out there, too, like Brad Hand and Zack Britton. The Cubs can make a strong addition from here, if they want to swim in those waters (as opposed to solely adding reclamation types – which, admittedly, they’ve had a lot of success with).

So that’s the background to any news or rumor about the current relief market. It’s an area to which we are still paying close attention.

And it could start moving soon:

It could be that the Mets – because of their largess and because they have “unspent” funds that would’ve gone to Carlos Correa – are driving this market. Until they sign whatever guy they want to sign for whatever dollar amount they’re willing to pony up, it’s possible no one else in that Chafin/Moore/Hand/Britton group is going to sign. And conversely, it could be that as soon as the Mets sign a guy, the others will follow soon thereafter.

Another sign that the market is heating up is this rumor from Mark Feinsand:

That feels like the kind of report you see when an agent is trying to get offers in place for his client.

The Cubs have never been mentioned as in on Chapman, by the way, who is trying to bounce back from a big drop in productivity in 2021 and a HUGE drop in productivity in 2022. At 34, and with his average fastball velocity in the 97 mph range, it’s possible Chapman doesn’t bounce back into anything particularly useful at this point. Combine that with the suspension under the domestic violence policy earlier in his career, and with his departure from the Yankees (he was left off the postseason roster because he failed to show up for a workout), and I think the market is going to be pretty limited.

But even with a limited market, he is yet another lefty reliever out there whose signing/interest could have ripple effects with some of the other guys. (Imagine, for a completely made up example, that Brad Hand was talking to the Royals and the Cubs – well, if the Royals were in on Chapman, maybe they prefer to try to get him at a cheaper price tag, and thus Hand (and the Cubs) would be left waiting around until things play out.)

My guess is we could see Chafin and Chapman go first, with one or more of the other three top lefties signing soon therefore. There’s also righty Michael Fulmer still out there, and I really do like him a lot, even if you’d prefer the Cubs to add another lefty to the bullpen, all else equal. Even without these fresh rumors, it’s not hard to speculate that the rest of the higher-end of the relief market is going to move soon. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in less than a month, and most of the rest of the free agent market has been played out.

Stay tuned. The Cubs are likely to make an addition from here to their bullpen group, and it’s really just a matter of waiting to try to get their preferred target at their preferred price tag.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.