What we learned about the post-deadline Cubs and why Chicago could compete again in 2022

Two months in the past, I used to be sitting right here writing in regards to the Cubs closing the book on the best era in franchise history. The mud has settled, the ship has sailed, and so forth. That period is over. When it comes to transferring ahead and hoping to open the window of rivalry as quickly as doable this time round, the primary order of enterprise for president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer can be to guage what stays after the post-trade deadline sell-off.

An informal first look says issues have gone horribly. The Cubs are 17-35 since July 29. They misplaced 12 in a row at one level and have at the moment misplaced six straight, 10 of 11 and 13 of 15. There was competent play previous to this terrible latest stretch, although. They had been 11-4 from Aug. 23 via Sept. 8. General, although, the wins and losses imply so much lower than particular person performances proper now.

There are a number of gamers who’ve established that they need to get an opportunity to stay round. 

  • Frank Schwindel is on the high of the checklist. The 29-year-old former profession minor-leaguer has now appeared in 50 video games for the Cubs. He is hit .352/.398/.643 with 16 doubles and 13 homers in 211 plate appearances. 
  • Rafael Ortega has hit .283/.347/.453 (114 OPS+) in his 305 plate appearances. Even when the Cubs do not need to go into subsequent yr with him as an on a regular basis starter, he is a keeper when it comes to a roster spot. 
  • As a result of 153 strikeouts in 338 at-bats and .231 batting common, Patrick Wisdom should not be a middle-order hitter (perhaps someplace across the seven gap?) on a contender, however he is hit 28 homers in these part-time at-bats and is worthy of being a starter. 
  • In his final 35 video games, Ian Happ has hit .346/.400/.709. He was good in 2019-20 and will not be too costly in arbitration. He is price protecting round. 
  • Willson Contreras has established himself as a catcher who can play at an All-Star stage, might be inconsistent at instances, however with a flooring that’s nonetheless above common. 
  • Nico Hoerner sooner or later must show he can keep wholesome and the dearth of energy is worrisome (.369 SLG), however he is a contact hitter with a .300-plus batting common. 
  • Nick Madrigal was acquired on the commerce deadline and is out for the season, however he is a profession .317 hitter in 303 at-bats. 

Proper there are seven place gamers that could possibly be a part of of a contending crew. Maybe Alfonso Rivas and Michael Hermosillo are a part of the combination as effectively. Robinson Chirinos works as a backup catcher in the event that they want to retain him as effectively. 

The factor the above group is lacking is a star or two. Maintain that thought for a second. 

The bullpen has sufficient reside arms that it’d really be OK, regardless of the numbers wanting ugly within the second half. Adbert Alzolay’s transfer to aid ought to stay everlasting and he has nice potential there as he is proven in his seven outings this month (1.56 ERA, 19 strikeouts, one stroll, 17 1/3 innings). If Keegan Thompson and/or Justin Steele aren’t within the rotation, they’ve good upside. Rowan Wick and Brad Wieck might be again. Adam Morgan is a succesful lefty. Codi Heuer got here within the cope with Madrigal and has typically been good. Manuel Rodriguez has big upside. There have been meltdowns, however there’s actual expertise on this group. 

In reality, Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera (relievers the Cubs traded in July) are good illustrations of Hoyer’s means to seize bullpen arms on a budget and discover success. 

All that is to say I do not suppose grabbing any big-name relievers within the offseason is an effective plan. As a substitute, Hoyer ought to concentrate on the rotation and at the least one marquee place participant. 

Talking of the rotation, it appears to be in dreadful form for subsequent season. Kyle Hendricks has taken a giant step again in 2021. He can have good outings and is price a rotation spot, however he should not be slotted as a No. 1, No. 2 and even No. 3. We might point out Alec Mills in comparable phrases. Possibly Thompson or Steele work. There are no others within the higher ranges of the minors prepared to leap right into a contending rotation. 

Which means Hoyer is left wanting outdoors the group. 

Hoyer recently said the Cubs plan to be “really active” in free agency. Baseball-Reference estimates via arbitration raises and pre-arbitration instances the Cubs payroll for 2022 is true now estimated at $79.1 million. They had been up over $220 million in 2019. Sure, we all know proprietor Tom Ricketts talked about “biblical” monetary “losses” with no followers in 2020, so it is solely doable they will not permit Hoyer to come back near that determine, however seeing half-empty stands for the reason that commerce deadline as an alternative of full capability has to encourage possession to as soon as once more put a product on the sphere that may pack Wrigley and preserve these {dollars} streaming in. 

To be clear, this implies it is believable to see the Cubs including some critical beef to the payroll for subsequent season. Possibly $100 million. Possibly much more. 

That ought to come within the type of at the least one and perhaps two needle-movers on offense and at the least two viable beginning pitchers, ideally frontline varieties. 

A reunion with Javier Bàez might work, however Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story and Marcus Semien are additionally on the market. Talking of reunions, take a look at outfielders Nick Castellanos and Jorge Soler able to hit the open market. Simply two of those names (Seager and Castellanos?) with the seven place gamers listed above has the makings of a high quality offense. (And, no, I do not suppose Kris Bryant and/or Anthony Rizzo reunions are on the desk, for these curious).

As for the rotation, one thing like Marcus Stroman and Robbie Ray can be nice. Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Steven Matz, James Paxton, Carlos Rodón, Noah Syndergaard and plenty of different fascinating names are on the market as effectively. 

Regardless, the Cubs have the monetary wherewithal to be main gamers within the offseason and if all the things breaks proper, they will be proper again within the NL Central combine in 2022. They’ve an honest sufficient supporting forged in place. It is time to purchase the celebs. It is as much as Hoyer to establish which of them work and lure them in. 



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