The Rundown: High Level Look at Cubs’ Future Lineup, Alzolay Impressive So Far, Kelenic Expresses Frustration With Mariners

In addition to their pending free agents, the Cubs have a number of players on one-year contracts that feature options with team-friendly buyouts. Additionally, Chicago finally boasts an improving farm system, albeit one that is generally regarded as top-heavy. That may change as some of the newer players in the organization get some professional experience, but that doesn’t mean we cannot take a look at what the future may hold.

Each winter, Baseball America puts out what is basically a wellness check of each organization. The publication also includes an analytic look at the future based on the team’s current roster construction at the major league level and all minor league affiliates. The content is available to subscribers only, though it’s also included if you buy their annual Prospect Handbook.

I’m usually a subscriber, but my health has forced me to trim luxury items from my budget in the short term. And though I’m not the CI prospect insider that Todd Johnson is, I thought I’d take a stab at what the 2024 Cubs may look like.

In constructing my future lineup, I’m of course presuming that some players may be traded, released, or extended. It’s a fun exercise that can also be shockingly revealing and might allow us to identify any gaps the North Siders may have beyond this season. Expect surprises, and please, I’d love to read your thoughts, concerns, and contradictions in the comments section.

For this exercise, we will assume the Cubs will not sign any players in free agency because it’s not something we can predict right now. We know that there are future Cubs playing for other organizations right now (looking at you, Jarred Kelenic) but it doesn’t make much sense to try to predict those types of free agent or trade acquisitions.

You don’t see Javier Báez or Willson Contreras, which may come as a shock to some. I believe if Jed Hoyer has to choose between extending Bryant or Báez, the organizational depth at shortstop means someone will be the team’s heir apparent a lot sooner than we may have expected a year or two ago.

Contreras is the team’s best trade piece and looking at the future rotation, the front office is going to need to find someone to replace Miller. The Cubs have plenty of backstop depth, too, so the All-Star catcher should be moved for a young and potentially premium starter.

Ian Happ is also off the list, as he too could command a decent return in trade. That said, I’m not sold on Hoerner at second base, so Happ could theoretically replace him or the Cubs could move one of their many excellent minor league shortstops over to the keystone.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

A little Thursday morning beefcake courtesy of Heyward for your viewing pleasure. Right now I’m a little disappointed in myself because my midsection has a much more pronounced, rounded shape.

Spring Training News & Notes

Yankees manager Aaron Boone insinuated that shortstop Gleyber Torres is in the, ahem, best shape of his life.

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers is in the best shape of his life.

After word leaked that the Mariners were manipulating service time with specific regard to Kelenic, the team’s top prospect and his agent expressed frustration with the Seattle organization.

Whites Sox first baseman and American League MVP José Abreu tested positive for COVID-19 and will spend a few days away from the team.

Free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has agreed to a one-year contract to play for a club in his native South Korea.

Though the division may be the strongest in baseball, Red Sox manager Alex Cora sees his team as AL East contenders.

Joe Maddon is extremely excited that the Angels acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The Pirates have acquired outfielder Dustin Fowler from the A’s for an undisclosed amount of cash.

MLB Pipeline will roll out its organizational top 30 prospect lists beginning Monday, March 8.

Extra Innings

I’m pro-DH, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love seeing pitchers hit dingers. Travis Wood was among the team’s better-hitting pitchers during his tenure with the North Side baseballers.

They Said It

  • “I’m not going to strike out a lot, and I can walk a lot more, and that will come with hitting the ball hard. I feel good.” – Nico Hoerner
  • “Just come to work every day, play baseball. The great thing about our fans is that when we do well and positive things happen, they’re right there waiting for that moment and they applaud that. And I think we can give them a lot to be excited about this year.”” – Jason Heyward

Thursday Walk Up Song

Our Day Will Come by Amy Winehouse – A great take on a classic song, replete with timeless, tortured pulchritude, and a wonderful tribute to Miss Winehouse.

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