The Chicago Cubs Signed These 6 Free Agents in the MLB Offseason
The Chicago Cubs missed the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2022, finishing the year with a win-loss record of 74–88. Chicago scored just 657 runs, its lowest in a 162-game season since 2014, and gave up 731 runs, its second-most in a 162-game season since 2012.
In hopes of returning to the playoffs in 2023, the Cubs signed several free agents in the offseason. As of January 5, 2023, the Cubs had spent $294 million on free agents, which was fifth league-wide behind the San Diego Padres ($353 million), Philadelphia Phillies ($397 million), New York Yankees ($583 million), and New York Mets ($808 million).
The following is a look at six of the Cubs’ most notable offseason acquisitions.
1. Dansby Swanson
Chicago signed free agent Dansby Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million contract on December 21, 2022. The former Atlanta Braves shortstop will earn $13 million in salary and a $7 million signing bonus in 2023 and $25 million in 2024. He’ll earn $27 million per year in years 3–5 of the contract and $26 million and $25 million in 2028 and 2029, respectively. The contract includes a full no-trade clause and is the sixth-largest to be signed during the offseason. Aaron Judge signed a record nine-year, $360 million contract extension with the New York Yankees.
Selected first overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft, Swanson was dealt to the Braves in December 2015 and has spent his entire career with the National League (NL) East franchise. He has a .255 career batting average and has hit at least 25 home runs in each of the past two seasons. He played in all 162 games last season and finished the year with a .277 batting average, 25 home runs, and a career-high 96 RBI. He also won a Golden Glove for his defensive proficiency and was an All-Star for the first time in his career.
2. Jameson Taillon
Beyond bolstering its lineup with the addition of Swanson, Chicago has improved its starting pitching by signing 31-year-old, right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon to a four-year, $68 million contract. The Cubs ranked 10th out of 15 NL teams in earned run average (ERA) last season, while its pitchers gave up 207 home runs, the third-worst in the NL.
Taillon, selected second overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, is a six-year veteran who spent the last two seasons with the Yankees. He had a 14–5 record in the 2021–22 season to go along with a 3.91 ERA. He is 51–35 in his career with a 3.84 ERA through 787.2 innings pitched. He’s expected to be the team’s №2 pitcher in the five-man rotation next season behind Marcus Stroman.
3. Drew Smyly
Taillon isn’t the only starting pitcher Chicago signed this offseason. The Cubs also agreed to a two-year, $19 million contract extension with 33-year-old left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly. Smyly joined the Cubs in 2022 after winning a World Series with the Braves and posted a 7–8 record to go along with a 3.47 ERA. He had 91 strikeouts and allowed just 101 hits in 106.1 innings pitched.
A veteran of nine seasons, Smyly has pitched in 239 games with seven different teams, including the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays. He was a second-round pick of the Detroit Tigers in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft and has a career record of 53–47 in addition to a 4.10 ERA. He’s expected to be the Cubs’ fifth starter in 2023.
4. Cody Bellinger
The Cubs also signed a former MVP during the offseason. Chicago signed 27-year-old outfielder and first baseman Cody Bellinger to a one-year, $17 million contract. Although he is coming off of a down year in which he hit only 19 home runs and has missed time due to injury during the prior two years, Bellinger has an impressive background. He was the NL MVP in 2019 after hitting 47 home runs and recording 115 RBI and was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2017. He has spent his entire six-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has a .248 career batting average to go along with 152 home runs and 422 RBI.
5. Tucker Barnhart
The Cubs also bolstered its depth at the catcher position by signing veteran Tucker Barnhart to a two-year, $6.5 million contract. Expected to be the team’s primary catcher in 2023, Barnhart spent the 2022 season with the Detroit Tigers and had one home run, 16 RBI, and a .221 batting average in 94 games. He spent the prior eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and recorded at least 40 RBI in the five seasons in which he played at least 115 games.
6. Brad Boxberger
Finally, Chicago signed relief pitcher Brad Boxberger to a one-year, $2.8 million contract. A first-round pick of the Reds in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, Boxberger is an 11-year veteran who has pitched for six different teams. He was 4–3 with a 2.95 ERA last season in 70 relief appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers.