Cubs Win Jeff Passan’s “Sneaky-Big Step Forward Award” for Their Approach to Free Agency

I’ve seen it a number of instances already from non-Chicago varieties: the Chicago Cubs have truly had a fairly first rate offseason.

No, not everybody agrees, and I feel we’ve got to watch out to distinguish between “fairly first rate” and “overwhelmingly superior.” But it looks as if most observers can see what the Cubs have performed this offseason as transferring issues ahead in a optimistic path.

To that finish, I feel Jeff Passan put it in a particularly reasonable and evenhanded means right this moment when becoming a member of others who’ve recognized the Cubs has had a “sneaky” good offseason:

The Sneaky-Big Step Forward Award goes to: As arduous because it is likely to be to imagine, the Cubs have spent greater than $300 million this winter and signed extra new gamers than some other staff. (Although the Mets signed extra free brokers, three of them have been rejoining the staff — seven of Chicago’s eight signings performed elsewhere final yr.) Chicago unfold round its wealth, too: About half that cash went to shortstop Dansby Swanson and the remaining to a middle fielder, catcher, a pair beginning pitchers and a few aid assist. Chicago was actively dangerous final yr. It must be far much less so this yr, particularly while you have a look at what the remainder of the National League Central has — or reasonably hasn’t — performed. Milwaukee may need landed a coup in a commerce, buying All-Star catcher William Contreras for prospect Esteury Ruiz, however the Brewers have been the second-lowest-spending staff in free company, a winter custom in Milwaukee. St. Louis did not lose a lot, however except for Contreras’ brother, Willson, signing a five-year deal, the Cardinals did not acquire an entire lot both. Are the Cubs going to win the division? Probably not. Is their alternative to compete actual? Much extra actual than a pair months again.

That looks as if the fitting perspective, and kind of the one we have been holding in thoughts round right here. The Cubs have made progress on the farm, and confirmed some progress on the huge league degree within the second half of final yr. But the large league roster had so many apparent holes, and was so removed from reasonable rivalry, that enhancing this offseason was each crucial and attainable. The Cubs merely had to get extra first rate gamers. Sometimes, an offseason directive is not that difficult.

To their credit score, the Cubs have gotten extra first rate gamers. They have improved at a number of spots, whereas arguably stepping again at just one (and that spot, catcher, is a spot the place the Cubs have wished a unique kind of pure-run-prevention-focused skillset within the first place). The 2023 Cubs are, on paper, fairly a bit higher than the 2022 squad was presently final yr.

Are they an 85-win staff on paper? (Which was, I assumed, the place they wanted to be after the offseason (admitting all alongside that it might take a VERY productive offseason to get there).) I do not assume so. Not fairly. They would’ve wanted not less than yet one more actually impactful bat to get there, reasonably than extra complementary varieties. Not to say guys like Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini do not elevate the ground from the place issues have been final yr at first base – they do, which says loads about 2022 … – however they don’t seem to be going to add a number of extra wins to the ledger With the fitting ultimate addition within the bullpen, I may possibly speak myself into saying that is an 82-win roster on paper (ie, simply above .500). But getting to 85 might be not within the playing cards at this level.

But that does not imply it wasn’t a optimistic offseason, it doesn’t suggest the Cubs cannot be aggressive this yr within the NL Central, and it definitely doesn’t suggest the Cubs cannot win 85+ video games. It simply means they could want to have extra nice surprises and possibly some extra fortunate bounces, and so they additionally will want to present that their pitching growth infrastructure is simply going to hold next-leveling guys all year long.

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