Latest rumors suggest Reds’ rival pitchers could end up with Cubs

The Reds do not want to see Josh Hader back in the NL Central.
San Diego Padres pitcher Josh Hader
San Diego Padres pitcher Josh Hader / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

So, maybe the Chicago Cubs are coming out of hibernation after all. A quiet start to the offseason has since seen the Cubs secured one of the coveted international signings this winter after coming to terms with Shōta Imanaga. Chicago also swung a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for highly-touted third base prospect Michael Busch.

But, the Cubs aren't done. According to MLB Insider Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, Chicago has shown interest in Cleveland Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase. Levine also mentioned former Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader as a potential free agent target for the Cubs, though recent reports suggest the reliever may be close to a deal with the Houston Astros.

This would be bad news for the Cincinnati Reds. At the moment, one could make the argument that Cincinnati is in the driver's seat in the NL Central. Though the St. Louis Cardinals have made a few moves, and the Milwaukee Brewers are the reigning division champions, on paper, the Reds are the most talented team in the NL Central. If the Cubs add Clase or Hader, that narrative could change quickly.

Latest rumors suggest Reds’ rival pitchers could end up with Cubs

The Cubs hired former Brewers manager Craig Counsell earlier this offseason, and it was expected that Chicago was going to push all their chips into the middle of the table in an attempt to compete in 2024. Nothing could have been further from the truth through the first half of the offseason. But just like the regular season, it's not necessarily how you start, but how you finish.

If the North Siders are able to swing a trade for Clase, or ink Hader to a free agent contract, all of the sudden, Chicago's bullpen becomes quite formidable. Throw in the inevitable signing of free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger, and the Cubs are once again a threat to the Reds' quest for NL Central supremacy.

If the Cubs are interested in Clase, he's not going to come cheap. With a team-friendly contract, the Guardians can afford to be selective and patient if indeed the hard-throwing right-hander is available on the trade market.

Many experts and insiders have suggested that the Cubs are just getting started, but we are about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. If Chicago's front office was going to make a move, most assume they'd have done it already.

Both Hader and Clase have played for some of the Reds' biggest rivals over the years, and the Cincinnati faithful would prefer to not see either one join their NL Central adversary this offseason.