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Chicago Cubs 2021 Outlook


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I can only assume now that the floodgates are open if the cubs are actually starting a long-term rebuild. So let's look at the bigger names left and their contracts:

Rizzo - Mr. Cub part 2. Owed 16.5M in 2021 then a FA. I would be partially surprised if he got moved just because he is the face of the franchise and a fan favorite. He will likely put up a near 4.0 WAR season so he does have some surplus value as well as clubhouse intangibles. Again, him leaving would shock me, but who knows. 

Bryant - He's been on a speculated trade block for almost two years now. He will make $18.6M and is a free agent after this season. The Cubs gambled on a repeat of 2019 in 2020 and lost. Still, he's projected as a 3 war player this year with some upside. I expect him to be gone by February. 

Baez - 11.9M this season, free agent next year. Baez has always been exciting to watch, making spectacular plays at short and having plus power at the dish. He plate discipline has a bit to be desired, with a career OBP slightly above .300. His career wRC+ is 101 (I can't believe that), so he's been more sizzle than steak at the dish. He's probably good for 4 WAR if he can get the batting average back up from the horrors of last year. I think the Cubs hold him to try to build back some value and flip him at the deadline. 

Contreras - If the Cubs want to get some prospect capital this year, here is the man to move. Projected for only 7M this year (Arb year 2) and not a rental (free agent come 2023). His service time appears to be outside of the long-term rebuild the cubs alluded to with the Darvish deal. He's a solid at and behind the dish. I can him being dealt this offseason. 

Kyle Hendricks - would fetch a nice return i think, but the cubs just resigned him so dealing him seems highly unlikely. 

Happ - I assume he's part of the next core so he won't go anywhere. 

At any rate, barring other moves, the Cubs will be averagish. The lineup will HAVE to produce like they can, because the rotation and bullpen will be underwhelming. 

 

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Craig Edwards, Fangraphs: Padres Give Up Prospects for Yu Darvish While Cubs Give Up

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The Cubs are a win-now team not trying to win now, potentially sacrificing a last title run for another potential one many years into the future. And after this year, they won’t be one future star or free agent away from winning: Consider that it took multiple top draft picks, two phenomenal trades, and several big hits in free agency just to make the 2016 championship happen. Sustainability means little when the level you are hoping to sustain is not all that close to reality. It’s possible the Cubs just received a future star in this deal — the Padres spent nearly $5 million in total signing bonuses on them — but that won’t be clear for another few years. That’s of no help to Rizzo, Bryant, Báez, Hendricks, or even Happ, who will be a free agent after the 2023 season.

With minimal investment, the Cubs could have made themselves clear NL Central favorites and stayed well below the competitive balance tax if they wanted to. They chose instead to cut costs under the guise of building a sustainable winner. San Diego’s payroll projects to exceed Chicago’s by quite a bit right now, and that says a lot more about what the Cubs are trying to do than the Padres.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

No idea what they are doing. What does their rotation even look like rn?  Fine if they want to let Chatwood and Lester go but it isn't like those guys were breaking the bank anyway. 

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1 hour ago, supac720 said:

No idea what they are doing. What does their rotation even look like rn?  Fine if they want to let Chatwood and Lester go but it isn't like those guys were breaking the bank anyway. 

They're pinching every penny. That's it. They don't care about winning at all. Billionaires are screaming that they're broke. The team will be an unabated mess this season. 

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5 hours ago, supac720 said:

No idea what they are doing. What does their rotation even look like rn?  Fine if they want to let Chatwood and Lester go but it isn't like those guys were breaking the bank anyway. 

Current Rotation:

Hendricks 

Davies 

Mills

Alzolay

Shelby Miller

Don't even ask about the depth beyond that 

 

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12 hours ago, KingJoffrey said:

Azolay is an interesting 1 dollar spec pick.

Can't argue with that. I think he winds up being a strong set up man (not this year) but he's a nice flier.

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5 hours ago, 2ndCitySox said:

Can't argue with that. I think he winds up being a strong set up man (not this year) but he's a nice flier.

Long relief? I don’t see who starts instead.  They may use an opener.

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1 hour ago, KingJoffrey said:

Long relief? I don’t see who starts instead.  They may use an opener.

Right, I mean long term. Although their rotation might be dicey for a couple of seasons so maybe not. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well Cubs made their big move for this season, haha.

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Cubs signed RHP Jake Arrieta to a one-year, $6 million contract with a $10 million mutual option for 2022.

The deal was agreed upon last week and made official Wednesday morning, presumably after Arrieta arrived at Cubs camp in Arizona and passed his intake physical. The veteran right-hander did quite well for himself here with a $6 million guarantee after struggling to a 5.08 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 32/16 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings (nine starts) last season for the Phillies. He seems doubtful to hold significant fantasy relevance in 2021.

Feb 17, 2021, 11:48 AM ET

 

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  • 3 months later...

Don't look now but the Cubs are riding a 6 game win streak and are 1/2 game behind the Cards in the division at 29-22. This good run in May has been led by excellent bullpen work, hot hitting, better fielding and some "Magic" baserunning (we've all seen the play but I'm still reposting it below. ) Still, they've gotten a turnaround from Hendricks and Davies, and Azolay has looked very good of late, while the back end of Arrieta and Williams have been off and on. It's surprising to me, a Cubs fan who had little expectations after the trade of Darvish. If he were still on this team, they'd be heavy favorites in the division.

Nevertheless, that decision indicated that more trades would be coming, and the Cubs would be crazy to not trade Kris Bryant with the season he's having. Other candidates include Kimbrel and Contreras, but, with the way they're playing, it's going to be hard to wave a white flag if they're still sitting at or near the top of the Division in a few months. Still, if they fall back to the pack, the sale will commence, and they could be fielding a team of AAA players in September. It's tough to predict right now, but the club is doing its best to throw a monkey wrench in whatever plan Hoyer's front office has in mind. Whatever happens the ROS, it's going to take a lot to top the highlight of 2021 so far:

 

 

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47 minutes ago, Richard Kimble said:

Don't look now but the Cubs are riding a 6 game win streak and are 1/2 game behind the Cards in the division at 29-22. This good run in May has been led by excellent bullpen work, hot hitting, better fielding and some "Magic" baserunning (we've all seen the play but I'm still reposting it below. ) Still, they've gotten a turnaround from Hendricks and Davies, and Azolay has looked very good of late, while the back end of Arrieta and Williams have been off and on. It's surprising to me, a Cubs fan who had little expectations after the trade of Darvish. If he were still on this team, they'd be heavy favorites in the division.

Nevertheless, that decision indicated that more trades would be coming, and the Cubs would be crazy to not trade Kris Bryant with the season he's having. Other candidates include Kimbrel and Contreras, but, with the way they're playing, it's going to be hard to wave a white flag if they're still sitting at or near the top of the Division in a few months. Still, if they fall back to the pack, the sale will commence, and they could be fielding a team of AAA players in September. It's tough to predict right now, but the club is doing its best to throw a monkey wrench in whatever plan Hoyer's front office has in mind. Whatever happens the ROS, it's going to take a lot to top the highlight of 2021 so far:

 

 

Yeah its going to be really interesting come the deadline if the cubs are still in the race, which they probably will be since the division doesn't seem to have any great teams. 

Fans might riot if they go white flag sale. (Would take the heat off the white sox for doing so back in the 90's though).

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4 minutes ago, 2ndCitySox said:

Yeah its going to be really interesting come the deadline if the cubs are still in the race, which they probably will be since the division doesn't seem to have any great teams. 

Fans might riot if they go white flag sale. (Would take the heat off the white sox for doing so back in the 90's though).

Over this past off season we heard real reports from David Kaplan indicating that the Cubs had real financial issues (the pandemic really crushed the books as Ricketts was attempting to buy most of Wrigleyville).  Unsure what the heck they do come June/July if this team is actually close/winning the division.  They certainly have moveable parts where they'd get a healthy reward in Bryant/Contreras/Kimbrel and to a lesser extent Arrieta and maybe even Hendricks.  

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25 minutes ago, IlliniGuy76 said:

Over this past off season we heard real reports from David Kaplan indicating that the Cubs had real financial issues (the pandemic really crushed the books as Ricketts was attempting to buy most of Wrigleyville).  Unsure what the heck they do come June/July if this team is actually close/winning the division.  They certainly have moveable parts where they'd get a healthy reward in Bryant/Contreras/Kimbrel and to a lesser extent Arrieta and maybe even Hendricks.  

Right. And the team would need to add if they truly felt they had a shot at the playoffs. I dont see them doing that, but who knows? This hot stretch has been a pleasant surprise for Cubs fans for sure. Team batting average is even up to. 240 (which is above average) after looking like a team of Charlie Browns in April 

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22 minutes ago, 2ndCitySox said:

Yeah its going to be really interesting come the deadline if the cubs are still in the race, which they probably will be since the division doesn't seem to have any great teams. 

Fans might riot if they go white flag sale. (Would take the heat off the white sox for doing so back in the 90's though).

I remember that controversy well. Kenny Williams sure paid the price for that...oh wait...he's still President of OPs. Jerry Reinsdorf has shown blind loyalty to his front offices like no other owner in pro sports, and Williams has rewarded him nicely, while the Bulls...oh what a mess since Jordan left.

Anyway, I feel like fans really following this team want them to go ahead and make the painful move of gutting it to its core. The die was cast when they traded Darvish in the offseason, and the farm system is bare so I'd rather endure another re-build than to take a shot that will come up short, and then be reduced to years of being in contention for the division, but not the league title. There's also the issue of extending at least one of the core trio; everyone knows it won't be Bryant, and I felt they absolutely insulted Rizzo with the extension they offered him. I will be really mad if they don't bring Baez back, as a fan, he's the most fun to watch. With the rich FA class next year, and the knowledge that Ricketts won't spend on more than one big ticket in the offseason (they have a lot of money coming off the books and can still easily afford a market value deal for a top FA), makes me feel that building around his regressing plate skills will not work out well. Extending Rizzo as a cornerstone still seems the best option. Its also annoying to see the offense finally clicking like this after years of sputtering around. It is hard to look at their current record and argue they can't continue to be about this good, which is good enough to be in the division race and likely near the top of the Wild Card. 

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