MLB Offseason Preview: Chicago Cubs

MLB Offseason Preview: Chicago Cubs

by November 16, 2021 0 comments

The Chicago Cubs missed the playoffs for just the second time in seven seasons. They led the majors in strikeouts, whiffing 1,596 times. While they finished top five in the National League in home runs (210) and stolen bases (86), the Cubs didn’t turn that into runs as often as they should have. The pitching was also to blame for their 71-91 record. The staff finished in the bottom five in nearly every meaningful category.

They are clearly in rebuild mode, shipping off their 2016 core, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez. In his first year as General Manager of the Cubs, Jed Hoyer was busy also trading away Craig Kimbrel, Trevor Williams, and Joc Pederson to restock his farm system. David Ross will be heading into his third year managing the club, and there has already been talk of an extension to have him head up the rebuild.

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Offseason Previews.

Offseason Strategy

Although the Cubs gave themselves some nice financial flexibility heading into this offseason, they are unlikely to go all in. There are holes to fill in the outfield and uncertainty in the infield. The pitching staff needs an overhaul as well with Kyle Hendricks acting as the team’s ace ahead of Wade Miley, Adbert Alzolay, and Alec Mills. The bullpen is far from set with Rowan Wick and Codi Heuer at the back end, but not much else. There is plenty for Hoyer and Chicago to do in the winter, but don’t expect the Cubbies to be jumping in on the top-notch free agents this year.

Keys to the Offseason

Spend Wisely

The Cubs went into 2021 over the luxury tax with a payroll of about $213 million. This year they enter with $66 million on the books. Obviously, that will change as they sign players and add players to the major league roster. However, Chicago can’t go crazy and start handing out contracts like the one they still have two years left of with Jason Heyward. Hoyer and his crew need to be wise and look for some quality players without breaking the bank or committing too many years.

See What They Have

The Cubs still have a ton of question marks around the diamond. Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel had very good seasons, but are they the future at 30 and 29 years old respectively? Is Nico Hoerner a starting shortstop? Is Rafael Ortega the player he was for Chicago last year, also at 30 years old? Time will tell on these, but it also goes back to the Cubs spending wisely. There is no reason for them to blow payroll on bad contracts when they don’t even know what spots they will need to fill moving forward.

Offseason Targets

Odubel Herrera, 29, Outfielder

Herrera is a perfect fit for the Cubs. He can play centerfield for the next year or so until Brennan Davis comes up. The former Phillie can then slide over to right field when Heyward finally leaves after the 2023 season. Herrera is pretty much an all-around average player as he had two DRS in center and had a 95 OPS+. It would be worth it for Chicago to kick the tires and bring him in for a three-year deal.

Michael Pineda, 32, Starting Pitcher

The big right-hander showed he was healthy as he came back and started 21 games for the Minnesota Twins last year. He isn’t the strikeout guy he used to be, but Pineda has pitched to a 3.57 ERA over the past two years and has walked hitters at a minuscule 4.9 percent. He is another player the Cubs could bring in for a couple of years as they continue to build their farm and see what they have on the mound with the youngsters.

Jonathan Villar, 30, Infielder

Villar can fill in at multiple spots in the infield and would give the Cubs some flexibility. A super-utility guy is critical going into the season especially when Chicago needs to see what their infield will look like going forward. There hasn’t been enough of a sample size from any of the presumed starters on the dirt to know what kind of players they really are. Villar gives some sort of reliability.

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