Cubs Notes: Suter, Imanaga, Shaw

Cubs Notes: Suter, Imanaga, Shaw


The Cubs were among several teams with interest in left-hander Brent Suter prior to his decision to sign in Cincinnati on a one-year deal earlier this week, according to Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Wittenmeyer adds that Chicago remained interested in Suter’s services “down to the end” of his time as a free agent.

That the Cubs would have interest in Suter is hardly a surprise. The 34-year-old was among the lefty relievers the club was reportedly interested in prior to last summer’s trade deadline, and the club has found itself connected to the relief market frequently with this winter, with Ryan Braiser and Robert Stephenson among the names rumored as potential Cubs targets. Suter also spent seven seasons in Milwaukee under new Cubs manager Craig Counsell prior to joining the Rockies prior to the 2023 campaign.

The relief market has seen the likes of Andrew Chafin, Will Smith and Chris Stratton sign over the past month in addition to Chafin, with right-hander Jordan Hicks also recently coming off the board after signing with the Giants as a starting pitcher. Even so, the Cubs nonetheless figure to have plenty of options available to them as they search to upgrade their bullpen this winter. In addition to Stephenson and Brasier, the likes of left-hander Matt Moore and right-hander David Robertson could provide some veteran stability to the late innings for Chicago, where they currently project to utilize Adbert Alzolay and Julian Merryweather.

More from the north side of Chicago…

The Cubs made their first big move of the offseason last week by landing left-hander Shota Imanaga on a four-year, $53MM deal. While Imanaga was posted for MLB teams to sign less than two months ago, Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun Times recently detailed the club’s efforts to land the southpaw, which date back to the club beginning to scout the southpaw back in 2018, the third season of Imanaga’s career in Nippon Professional Baseball. Lee notes that Imanaga caught Chicago’s attention in a more significant way during the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s 2019 Premiere12 tournament, the same tournament where they first identified outfielder Seiya Suzuki as a possible future target. That lengthy time spent scouting the duo has paid off as Imanaga figures to slot behind Justin Steele in the middle of the club’s rotation this year, while Suzuki slashed an impressive .285/.357/.485 in 138 games as the club’s everyday right fielder in the second year of his five-year pact with the Cubs last year.
Chicago’s first-round pick in the 2023 draft, shortstop Matt Shaw, made a big first impression during his first professional campaign with a .357/.400/.618 slash line in 170 trips to the plate across three levels last summer, including a stop at Double-A where he slashed a strong .292/.329/.523 in 15 games. With that performance, the 22-year-old has put himself on the radar for a possible big league debut at some point during the 2023 campaign. Gold glove fielders Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson are locked into the middle infielder positions at Wrigley, however, and that’s led Shaw to explore new defensive positions this winter. Shaw himself told Ryan Herrera of CHGO Sports at this weekend’s Cubs Convention that “probably 99%” of his defensive reps this winter have come at third base. Prospect evaluators questioned Shaw’s arm strength when he was selected last summer, making the hot corner an unusual fit for the youngster. On the other hand, the Cubs found success in moving Nick Madrigal to third base last year despite similar questions about arm strength with Madrigal posting +10 Outs Above Average at the position in 2023.

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