The Cubs are aiming to return to the playoffs following a lackluster season and then a busy offseason filled with signings.
The Chicago Cubs are in a transitional part of their rebuild and they needed to make some moves to keep fans interested in a non-competitive team. They are far away from a true playoff contender, but the new additions they acquired plus the young prospects that are coming up in the system show that in a few years, they can have another great playoff run.
Key Offseason Signings
The biggest name to come to the North Side is Dansby Swanson, who was one of the top free-agent shortstops in the offseason. He signed on December 18 and can bring the middle infield much-needed depth alongside upcoming second base star Nico Hoerner. Another signing that helps the infield is Eric Hosmer, who signed on January 13 to a one-year deal. While he is not a huge name, he will fill in the first basemen void that has been around since they traded Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees.
For the catcher position, the Cubs acquired Tucker Barnhart on a 2-year deal after losing Willson Contreras to the Cardinals. On the pitching side, the Cubs signed Jameson Taillon for four years, which strengthens the rotation for the foreseeable future. The last major signing that the Cubs made during the offseason was adding Cody Bellinger for one year. Like Hosmer, the Cubs are trying to fill a position and taking a shot at players who have been successful in past years but not as much recently. While Bellinger has not been as hot as he was back in his 2019 NL MVP season, he can bring some pop into the lineup.
Key Returning Players
While these new additions help the team become stronger, some returning players had better results than the previous year. The two biggest returning players of the Cubs are Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner. Happ was trending downwards before the 2022 season with lower offensive and defensive numbers. But his 2022 made the difference. His strikeouts were less frequent, he hit more homers, and he made many highlight reel catches. His defense was so good that he won a Gold Glove for the first time. If he continues to produce like this, then it will bring nothing but greatness in the future.
Nico Hoerner has been one of the most underrated players in the league lately. His defense has always been great, and je has amazing patience for a young player. With Swanson on his right, they can be the best shortstop/second base duo in the league. While he has not hit many homers in his career like Happ, he still puts the ball in play. The last player worth mentioning is Seiya Suzuki, who had a decent first year in the Major Leagues despite being injured for some of it. Currently, he has an oblique injury so it is unknown when he will debut, but he can potentially have a great sophomore season when he does come back.
Cubs Projected Lineup
Here is a Projected Opening Day roster for the 2023 Cubs:
1. Nico Hoerner (2B)
2. Dansby Swanson (SS)
3. Patrick Wisdom (3B)
4. Ian Happ (LF)
5. Cody Bellinger (CF)
6. Trey Mancini (DH)
7. Eric Hosmer (1B)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Nelson Velazquez (RF)
Bench: Luis Torrens, Yan Gomes, Nick Madrigal, and Edwin Rios
While the Cubs will most likely not be in a playoff push, there are still a lot of things that Cubs fans can look forward to seeing. The infield is going to be one of the better defenses in the National League. The overall lineup that they have can potentially produce a lot of home runs and runs in general. Having guys like Happ, Swanson, Bellinger, and Wisdom are a big plus to getting fans in the stands during the entire season. Also, there are a lot of young guys that are going to play during the in-between years like Matt Mervis or Pete Crow-Armstrong. As long as the team is heading in the right direction, then this season can be looked at as a positive. The only real threat that the Cubs have to look out for is Willson Contreras since he is on the Cardinals.
But who knows what the season will bring for the Cubs? They can surprise everyone and make a playoff push out of nowhere or be stuck in the middle of the Central. If the big stars come out and have their best season in a long time, then they can potentially be a dangerous team in a couple of years. Even if they are not good now, they can be great shortly. Hopefully the North Side of Chicago can experience another playoff run soon. Even if it takes some bad years to get there, it will be worth it to see another World Series in Chicago.
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