June 25, 2024

The Chicago Cubs have answered one of the offseason’s major uncertainties by agreeing to a three-year, $80 million deal with star slugger Cody Bellinger.

But their marquee roster additions may continue into the 2024 season, as Kerry Miller of Bleacher Report predicts the team will get two-time All-Star Shane Bieber in a midseason trade with the Cleveland Guardians.

“Bieber is entering his final season before reaching free agency, and there’s just no chance Cleveland will be able to sign the 29-year-old 2020 AL Cy Young winner to a long-term contract,” the article said. “We’ll let them work out the specifics (of a trade), but a couple months of Bieber pitching in Wrigley Field is a reasonable expectation.”

The Chicago Cubs Can Flip Some Outfield Depth for Cleveland Guardians Pitcher Shane Bieber

 

Cleveland Guardians predicted to trade Shane Bieber to NL Central contender

 

Miller also said that the Cubs may deal some of their significant outfield depth for Bieber, who is due to make $13.125 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agency in 2025.

“They’ve got Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, Mike Tauchman and Pete Crow-Armstrong all under team control for at least another three years, plus the recent re-signing of Cody Bellinger and highly touted outfield prospects in Owen Caissie and Kevin Alcántara,” Miller said in a statement.

Miller speculated that Tauchman alone could be enough to wrest Bieber from the Guardians in a one-on-one trade. The outfielder’s six-year MLB career has been somewhat mediocre.239/.340/.377 slash line, but he’s only owing $1.95 million in 2024 before entering his second year of arbitration.

If the Guardians want to flip their veterans with an eye toward the future, they may include another player in addition to Bieber and obtain a prospect such as Caissie or Alcántara, two top-five members of the Cubs’ farm system beginning in 2023.

Caissie, a 21-year-old corner outfielder, hit.289/.399/.519 in 439 Double-A at-bats last year. In 2023, Alcántara played centerfield and right field, batting.284/.345/.466 in 391 at bats throughout the Arizona Complex League, High-A, and Double-A.

Shane Bieber Would Bring a Veteran Presence to the Chicago Cubs Rotation

Meanwhile, Bieber may make a difference for a Cubs team that appears to be focused on winning the NL Central and making a long playoff push next season after paying much on Bellinger.

Bieber’s career accomplishments include a Gold Glove Award in 2022 and an excellent 2020 Cy Young season in which he claimed the Triple Crown by leading the AL in wins, ERA, and strikeouts while also earning All-MLB First Team recognition.

Though he hasn’t sustained that level of success in recent years, Bieber has the potential to head the Cubs rotation or serve as a solid backup to newly acquired Shota Imanaga, Justin Steele, or Jameson Taillon.

The ZiPS model predicts Bieber to have a 3.52 ERA and 9.16 K/9 in 189 innings next season. That workload would have pushed him above any Cubs starter in 2023, while his ERA and K/9 would have placed him squarely in the middle of the pack.

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