The Chicago Cubs are rumored to have their eyes on several top players in free agency this winter. But free agents might not be all that the Cubs are after, as an ESPN writer speculated that they could move for a rival ace.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers wrote that the Cubs could pursue Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes. Burnes, who is still under contract with the Brewers, would have to be acquired by Chicago via a trade. But, as Rogers noted, that’s not unfamiliar territory.
Rogers wrote on the subject, and also noted the team’s interest in Japanese pitchers Shota Imanaga and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He wrote on ESPN:
The Cubs are also in on Japanese pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga — the latter has already spent time in Chicago — according to sources familiar with the situation. They also have an eye on Milwaukee starter Corbin Burnes, in case the Brewers begin to subtract — and Milwaukee is willing to trade with the team that just pilfered its manager. The Cubs would like to acquire a starter after Marcus Stroman opted out of his deal recently — though young pitching is a sudden strength for the organization. Minor league righty Cade Horton could end up being the top pitching prospect in baseball next year, according to McDaniel.
A move like this would be a big shakeup in the NL Central. Burnes is one of the reasons why Milwaukee has been so successful the last few seasons. With his teammate Brandon Woodruff also reportedly a trade target this offseason, you have to wonder if Milwaukee could turn things upside down.
Burnes won the 2021 National League Cy Young Award and finished in the Top 10 in 2022 and in 2023.
If so, that would be debilitating for the Brewers and their fanbase, especially if it winds up that the Cubs get him. Chicago already pulled off getting Craig Counsell. This might just be salt in the wound.