Rebuild Report: Chicago Cubs

Cubs’ IF Nick Madrigal; Photograph through Minda Haas Kuhlmann

It’s no secret the Chicago Cubs have been in rebuild mode because the 2020 offseason after they traded Yu Darvish for subsequent to nothing after he completed second in NL Cy Younger voting. On the 2021 commerce deadline, the membership moved a complete of 9 gamers in every week and altered the trajectory of the franchise for years to return. For reference, Kyle Hendricks is the one participant from the 2016 World Sequence Championship staff nonetheless with the membership. The Cubs weren’t in a position to attain any extension offers with their core items, resulting in anarchy on the 2021 deadline.

The World Sequence years have been over, and Chicago started constructing one thing new. Lots of the prospects acquired during the last two seasons are beginning to have an effect, which is why the Cubs are ranked across the #10 farm system baseball, relying on which rating system you take a look at.

Final season, the Cubs weren’t good. The staff ranked within the backside third of the league in worth produced by offense, pitching, and fielding. It was irritating to observe as a result of the Cubs have been crying broke, though they’re within the third largest media market within the nation, in response to Nielsen. They have been a big market staff performing just like the Pirates, who the Cubs have been barely higher than.

The most important subject was pitching. The Cubs’ starters and relievers ranked twenty fourth and twenty eighth, respectively, in worth produced final season, which is problematic and highlights an organizational subject. Scott Effross was the perfect pitcher on the staff final 12 months, however they traded him to the Yankees on the deadline regardless of his 5 extra years of staff management. Justin Steele was the next-best pitcher, and Marcus Stroman confirmed flashes of his previous self however general had simply an okay 12 months. Nobody was really dealing.

Kyle Hendricks is holding the rotation again; he’s previous his prime and unable to supply significant worth. There may be some hope for the long run in Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson, who’re younger and can get higher with time. In any other case, there may be a lot to be desired. In free company, they signed Jameson Taillon and Michael Fulmer. Tallion is a stable addition. He’s not a strikeout king but additionally doesn’t stroll individuals. Fulmer provides depth to a depleted bullpen and has a possibility to bounce again after regression within the second half of 2022. He has appeared nice this spring, which is hopefully an indication of what’s to return.

Offensively, the 2022 Cubs struggled to constantly plate runs. There was quite a lot of swing-and-miss within the lineup, and lots of rookies have been studying the way to hit on the main league stage. The lineup building was not balanced. Key gamers like Zach McKinstry and Nick Madrigal lacking prolonged time led to the shortcomings. Moreover, offense was down throughout the league in 2022. That isn’t to say Chicago’s lackluster offensive season was acceptable, nevertheless it additionally was not an area drawback. The Cubs’ present lineup would possibly profit from the MLB’s new rule modifications and bounce again in an enormous manner.

The possession group invested in hitters this offseason, bringing in Cody Bellinger, Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, and Dansby Swanson. They improved, particularly defensively, however the Cubs nonetheless don’t appear like they’ll compete for the division crown. Bellinger is an fascinating story due to what his ceiling is: MVP-caliber baseball. In fact, that may be a stage he hasn’t performed at constantly since 2019. He would possibly profit from the change of surroundings; worst case state of affairs, he’s on a one-year deal. There is no such thing as a such factor as a foul one-year deal. Hosmer is an improve within the lineup however a borderline legal responsibility at first base, rating within the thirtieth percentile for Outs Above Common. Mancini can DH and presents extra energy to the lineup. Getting Dansby was the most important transfer of the offseason. He’s signed by way of the subsequent 7 years and appears to be the centerpiece for the Cubs to construct round. Whereas not being recognized for his energy like the opposite free agent signings, Swanson, together with Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal, presents a great contact bat to stability out the sluggers within the lineup.

On the opposite aspect of the coin, they misplaced Willson Contreras, among the best offensive catchers within the league, to the St. Louis Cardinals. Filling the void will probably be tough; they are going to most likely platoon at catcher, with Tucker Barnhart being the on a regular basis catcher. That is nothing of be aware; he presents little or no, however Chicago wants somebody to catch the ball.

The farm system is loaded with outfield expertise. Pete Crow-Armstrong, acquired from the Mets in alternate for Javier Baez and Trevor Williams, is essentially the most touted prospect within the system. Crow-Armstrong presents a lot pleasure for the long run. Nevertheless, participant improvement has been a hurdle in recent times. Progress from inside has been restricted, and there have been few homegrown items to succeed not too long ago. OFs Brennan Davis and Kevin Alcántra hope to vary that and are the subsequent largest names within the farm system. The Cubs may have a backlog of gifted outfielders within the coming years, which is an effective drawback to have.

There may be additionally concern relating to pitching improvement. Only some groups have this facet of the sport found out, and the Cubs try to develop into certainly one of them. Hayden Wesneski and Caleb Kilian have each had robust outings this spring and are combating for spots within the pitching rotation. Each younger studs have been acquired by way of trades during the last two years. Wesneski was the headliner of the Scott Effross commerce, and Kilian was part of the Kris Bryant commerce. Cade Horton and Jordan Wicks are the 2 largest pitching prospects nonetheless within the farm system and wish no less than one other 12 months to develop earlier than they’re near MLB-ready.

Merely put, the Cubs usually are not in a spot to problem the Cardinals for the division, however they’ve a better ceiling than most suppose. They’ll compete with the Brewers purely due to the Brewers’ lack of offense. The Cubs lineup has upside, however there’s a little little bit of a backlog of place gamers, which suggests the lineup could be altering each day. The season purpose for this younger membership is to win the season collection in opposition to the Pirates, Reds, and Brewers and end second within the division. Reaching that may be an enormous step ahead. Their ceiling is what the pitching will permit, which sadly doesn’t appear like something nice. This membership is transferring in the correct path, however holes nonetheless should be addressed, whether or not by way of free company or inside improvement. This staff wants extra time earlier than it’s again to October constantly, and that’s okay. The rebuilding course of is gradual, however the progress seen from the acquired items is big and one thing Cub followers must be enthusiastic about. It might at all times be worse; bear in mind, the Rockies exist.


Nick Madrigal” through Minda Haas Kuhlmann licensed below CC BY-SA 2.0