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.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 24, 2021
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.
- Catcher – Miguel Amaya
- First Base – Anthony Rizzo
- Second Base – Nico Hoerner
- Shortstop – Ed Howard IV
- Third Base – Cristian Hernandez
- Left Field – Kris Bryant
- Center Field – Brennen Davis
- Right Field – Reginald Preciado
- DH – Jordan Nwogu
- SP1 – Brailyn Márquez
- SP2 – Adbert Alzolay
- SP3 – Kyle Hendricks
- SP4 – Kohl Stewart
- SP5 – Tyson Miller
- Closer – Burl Carraway
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
- Hoerner believes he’s the right guy to be the Cubs’ starting second baseman, despite the belief by many that he may need some more seasoning in the minors.
- Jason Heyward is genuinely excited that the Cubs are NL Central underdogs, as most analysts and projection systems favor the Cardinals or Brewers to take the division.
- David Ross was a big factor in helping Happ succeed as the team’s leadoff batter.
- Chicago showed big defensive improvements in 2020 and Ross is adamant that the team continues to improve.
- Alzolay is the X-factor of the Cubs’ rebuilt starting rotation. I’d include Stewart as someone who could be surprisingly excellent, too.
- I’m not as upset about service time manipulation as Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman, but if the MLBPA does not address that in the next CBA they have nobody to blame but themselves. The ongoing subterfuge by front offices and team owners is blatant and deplorable, but it’s not against the rules.
- Tom Ricketts’ annual speech to his team to start the season has been
convenientlydelayed this spring due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
- ESPN still ranks the Cubs as the best team in the division and No. 10 overall (subscriber access only).
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.
Chicago is home for J-Hey. 💙 pic.twitter.com/I5C6tP80DX
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 24, 2021
Spring Training News & Notes
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.
MLB Pipeline will roll out its organizational top 30 prospect lists beginning Monday, March 8.
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.
"I dream about hitting homers."
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 23, 2021
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.