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A few thoughts about the Cubs’ other free agents

Will any of these guys be back?

Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Yesterday, I posted a few thoughts about the Cubs retaining Cody Bellinger, and you weighed in.

Today, let’s look at five more Cubs players who either are or could be free agents going into this offseason.

Marcus Stroman

Stroman has a player option worth $21 million, which is $4 million less than the Cubs paid him in 2022 and 2023. There had been a $2 million escalator for each season if Stroman had gotten to 160 innings, which would have made the deal worth $25 million in 2024, but Stroman failed to reach that benchmark in either year.

Personally, I would be astonished if Stroman did NOT exercise the player option and return for another year.

We have seen how good Stroman can be when he’s on. In his first 16 starts this year, he posted a 2.28 ERA and 1.024 WHIP in 98⅔ innings, allowed just five home runs, held opponents to a .191 BA and threw a one-hit shutout against the Rays at Wrigley Field. That was enough to get him named to the N.L. All-Star team, though he opted out of going to the game in Seattle.

But then he left his next start, the one against the Cardinals in London, with what was reported as a blister, and a litany of other injuries gave him an 8.29 ERA and 1.868 WHIP in 11 appearances (nine starts) the rest of the way.

It seems clear Stroman wasn’t healthy after that London start, and we’ve seen how good he can be when he is healthy. Assuming he’s 100 percent going into 2024, I don’t see why he couldn’t do that for a full season.

Jeimer Candelario

The former Cubs prospect returned to the team from the Nationals in a deadline deal for minor leaguers DJ Herz and Kevin Made.

He immediately made an impact, batting .385/.467/.577 (20-for-52) in his first 15 games with the Cubs, but then started a slow slide which resulted in an injured list placement in mid-September with back issues. It seems likely he had the back trouble for a while before going on the IL, because he was in a 5-for-52 slump before that.

Candelario plays first base and third base, is a solid if unspectacular defender and has power (22 home runs and a .471 SLG overall in 2023). He turns 30 next month. Should the Cubs re-sign him to a two- or three-year deal? How much money would that take?

Michael Fulmer

Fulmer was the sort-of closer at the beginning of the year, but he pitched so badly he was quickly out of that role, and after his first 23 outings he had a 7,84 ERA and 1.597 WHIP, with no saves and two blown saves.

But after that he was really good for an extended period. In 27 appearances from May 27 through August 6, Fulmer posted a 1.20 ERA and 1.067 WHIP and struck out 32 in 30 innings.

After that, though, he started to give up runs again and wound up on the injured list with the dreaded “forearm tightness.” He came back, made one appearance, then wound up the year on the IL again.

Fulmer made just $4 million in 2023. He’ll turn 31 during Spring Training next year. I’d think the Cubs could find another similar fungible reliever on the scrap heap this offseason for about the same money.

Tyler Duffey

It’s a bit surprising that Duffey, who had decent-to-good years for the Twins from 2015-22, didn’t get a callup from Triple-A Iowa until the last game of the 2023 season.

He threw reasonably well at Iowa, too: 3.77 ERA, 1.103 WHIP in 36 appearances (two starts) and struck out 53 in 45⅓ innings.

Duffey turns 33 in December and I’d think he’s worth at least a minor-league invite.

Shane Greene

Greene is two years older than Duffey and his last good full season was 2019. He’s 35 in December and I think the Cubs can do better.


Should the Cubs re-sign Jeimer Candelario?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    (442 votes)
  • 22%
    (241 votes)
  • 37%
    Depends on the cost
    (406 votes)
1089 votes total Vote Now


Should the Cubs bring back Michael Fulmer?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    (275 votes)
  • 72%
    (736 votes)
1011 votes total Vote Now


Should the Cubs bring back Tyler Duffey?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (86 votes)
  • 45%
    (451 votes)
  • 45%
    Minor-league deal only
    (450 votes)
987 votes total Vote Now


Should the Cubs bring back Shane Greene?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    (57 votes)
  • 62%
    (615 votes)
  • 31%
    Minor-league deal only
    (308 votes)
980 votes total Vote Now