Chicago Cubs 2021 Preview
Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Welcome to the final month before opening day! I hope you have been enjoying spring training as much as I have. Baseball is close! I am overjoyed! March begins the official Ball Boy Blog previews of all 30 teams. The previews feature all the Free Agent signings, trades, NRI, bold predictions, and some cool fun facts at the end! We are starting at the top of the 2020 ranks and working our way down from best to worst! Enjoy!
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Last Year Record:34-26 First place in the NL Central. Made Playoffs.
Record x2.7: 91.8-70.2
Vegas Projected: 79.5W; I am questioning Vegas thus far in the previews. Maybe I am more bullish on the Cubs than most. The NL Central is a two-team race between the Cardinals and Cubs. I have the Cardinals winning 97 and the Cubs winning 95.
SP Jon Lester(FA), OF/DH Jose Martinez(non-tendered) OF Kyle Schwarber(non-tendered) OF Albert Almora jr.,(non-tendered)
SP Yu Darvish, C Victor Caratini, RHPR Duane Underwood jr.
Free Agent Signings:
-RHRP Brandon Workman- 1yr $1mil deal with $2mil in incentives. From 2017-the trade to the Phillies in 2020. The 32yo had a 2.65ERA over 159.1IP with a 28.8%K rate and 11.8%BB rate, and 46.4% groundball rate.
-Re-signed RHP Ryan Tepera to a 1yr $800k deal. The deal can reach up to $1.75mil. Tepera did earn a single 10th place MVP vote after his season in Chicago. In 20.2IP, he had a 3.92ERA/3.34FIP with a career-high 34.8%k rate.
-OF Jake Marisnick to a 1yr $1.5mil deal, mutual option for 2022, and $500K in incentives for 2021. The 30yo was only able to appear in 16 games last season due to injuries, but in that time, he hit .333/.353/.604 in 34PA. Over the last four seasons, .234/.297/.441. Against lefties, he owns a .247/.313/.443.
- RHP Jake Arrieta to a 1yr $6mil deal, with $1mil in incentives. Arrieta is coming off a 3yr deal with the Phillies that saw him pitch to a 4.36ERA/4.57SIERA over 352.2IP.
-RHP Kohl Steward- The former #4 overall pick back in 2013 owns a 4.79ERA over 62IP between 2018-19. He owns a 4.87ERA over 136.2IP at the AAA level. He opted out of 2020 due to health concerns.
-OF Joc Pederson- Pederson, the career Dodger will now have an opportunity to be an everyday player and not a platoon player. Pederson is a career .230/.336/.470 hitter.
-LHRP Andrew Chafin- Since Chafin's debut in 2014, he has a 3.67ERA with a 52.3% groundball rate over 274.2IP.
-RHP Trevor Williams- Williams posted a 6.18ERA, 19.4%K rate over 55.1IP. He also allowed a league-high 15HR. The 29yo will look to fill into the #3 sport behind Hendricks and Davies.
-C Austin Romine- Romine will serve as an experienced option behind starter Willson Contreras and replace Victor Caratini. In 1251PA, he owns a .239/.278/.361 slash in that span.
-RHRP Jonathan Holder- Since the start of 2019, he owns a 5.82ERA/4.85FIP over 60.1IP. Holders' best days were between 2017-18 when he posted a 3.45ERA/3.22FIP over 104.1IP. The deal is non-guaranteed, so it will be interesting if Holder can hold onto a spot in the Cubs bullpen.
RHP Zach Davies-a top-tier starter as he posted a 2.73ERA/3.88FIP over 69.1IP.
1B Shendrick Apostel- The 20yo Apostel hit .252/.381/.463 in the DSL between 2018-19.
SS Reginald Preciado, INF Teison Santana, OF Owen Caissie, OF Ismael Mena
-INF Sergio Alcantara- The 24yo made his MLB debut with the Tigers with 3H, 1HR, in 23PA. The HR was surprising as Alcantara showed little to no power in the 7 MiLB seasons with 9HR over 2611PA. He can also handle 2B and 3B.
-RHP Cory Abbott-In 2019 at AA with a 3.01ERA, 10.19K/9, over 146.2IP
-RHP Keegan Thompson- He profiles as 5th starter/swingman piece
-INF Christopher Morel- In A ball in 2019, he slashed .284/.320/.467 with 8HR and 9SB over 278SB. He has played SS/3B but is likely to be an OF
-RHP Robert Stock- In 13.1IP in 2020, posted a 4.73ERA/3.34FIP with 14K. Stock owns a fastball that sits in the mid-90, but control is the issue for him. The Cubs hope to fix the control issues and make the 31yo a reliable piece.
-OF Phillip Ervin( Ervin can play all 3OF positions and brings a .247/.322/.406 slash line over 586 career MLB At-Bats.)
-INF Eric Sogard- Sogard is a contact hitting Lefty bat. He has a career 90.2% contact rate and 3.9% swinging-strike. In 2020 he made contact at a 93% clip. He hit .209/.281/.278 in 128PA in 2020
-RHRP Pedro Strop- In 2020, Strop only was able to pitch 2.1IP with the Reds due to a groin injury. From 2013-19 with the Cubs, he posted a 2.90ERA over 373IP, with a 2.12ERA in 17IP during the postseason.
-OF Cameron Maybin- The 33yo ended the season with the Cubs after the Tigers traded him at the deadline. He ended 2020 with a .247/.307/387 slash in 101PA.
-LHP Rex Brothers- He pitched 3.1IP with 3ER for the club in 2020.
-RHP Joe Biagini- In 19IP between 2019-20, he gave up 22ER, 31H, 13BB.
-OF Nick Martini- In 288PA at the MLB level, he owns a .269/.372/.380 slash to go along with a career .305/.401/.435 slash in 1400PA at the AAA level
-INF Patrick Wisdom- Over the past three seasons, he owns a .218/.299/.397 slash over 88PA.
-RHP Shelby Miller- Since the start of the 2017 season, Miller has tossed only 82 big league innings, thanks in large part to a Tommy John procedure that sidelined him for much of 2017 and 2018.
-OF Rafael Ortega(29yo, 447MLB PA with a slash line of .229/.287/.290), RHP Jake Jewell(27yo, 28.1MLB IP with a 6.99ERA/6.67FIP), C Taylor Gushue(In 6 MiLB season has a slash line of .240/.309/.396), LHP Jerry Vesto(28yo has only pitched in 6MLB games. Was injured all of 2019 and wasn't in a 60-man pool in 2020), OF Miller(28yo, 18 career PA)
-OF Michael Hermosillo- in 118 MLB PA, the 26yo owns a .188/.288/.287 slash over the last three seasons with the Angels. In 748 AAA PA, he owns a .261/.344/.478 slash.
RHP James Bourque, LHP Matt Dermody, LHP Adam Morgan, Juan Gamez, LHP Trevor Megill, RHP Tommy Nance, RHP Michael Rucker, LHP D.J. Snelten, LHP Jerry Vasto, C Taylor Gushue, C P.J. Huggins, C Jose Lobaton, INF
3B Kris Bryant, C Wilson Contreras, OF Ian Happ, LHP Kyle Ryan, RHP Colin Rea, RHP Dan Winkler, SS Javier Baez
OUT OF OPTIONS:
Ildemaro Vargas, 2B
Alec Mills, P
Duane Underwood, P
Dillon Maples, P
-Adbert Alonzolay has been turning heads thus far in spring ball. The club believes he could be ready for a giant leap in 2021. Please keep your eyes on him.
-I am going to be watching Rookie LHP Brailyn Marquez in camp this spring. The 22yo made his MLB debut last season, and it wasn't a great showing. He only was able to manage 0.2IP with 5ER, 1K, and 3BB. He made the leap from A+ ball to MLB action, which can be a huge reason to go along with age. In his 103.2IP in 2019, he had a 3.13ERA, 128K-50BB in that span.
Fantasy Impact Players
Pitchers- Kyle Hendricks, Alec Mills, Craig Kimbrel
Pos Players- Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Ian Happ, Joc Pederson
Upcoming 2022 Free Agents:
-Rizzo, Bryant, Baez each are free agents, and each will command about $20+mil pr year on their next deal, and they may be out of the budget for the Cubs. Bryant and Baez are trade candidates this season.
-Pitchers Zach Davies, Brandon Workman, Adam Morgan, Shelby Miller, Pedro Strop, Ryan Tepera, and Kohl Stewart will be free-agents if they make the opening day roster last the season.
-Jake Arrieta carries a $10mil club option should he rebound nicely in 2020
Storylines to follow
-The Core is still intact. Both Baez and Contreras have expressed they want to stay in Chicago with the club. Bryant, Rizzo is also free-agents. Can the Cubs make a run at another ring before the dynasty comes to an end?
-The Cubs some attractive arms in camp this spring. Pedro Strop, Rex Brothers, Joe Biagini, Shelby Miller are all guys I am keeping my eye on this spring. Each should be able to have a fair shot at earning a pen role with the club.
-I am following how David Ross sets the table this season. Ross has mentioned Ian Happ to be an everyday leadoff hitter.
I am calling the breakout for newly acquired OF Joc Pederson. For the first time in his career, he will get a shot at being an everyday player, something we have yet to see. Pederson is a career .230/.336/.470 hitter and has shown decent power and decent OF play in his time with the Dodgers. Look for Pederson to be a force in the Cubs lineup.
-I think the NL MVP is in the NL Central. It could be Nolan Arenado, however, I think the Cubs could have the MVP in Bryant, Rizzo or Baez.
Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown had only three full fingers on his pitching hand and finished his career with 1375 strikeouts and a 2.06 ERA. Not to mention this guy was a switch-hitter too, which is unique, especially for a pitcher… without a fully limbed hand.
He was one of only four people to have earned Rookie of the Year and an MVP Honor in back-to-back seasons. Bryant joins Cal Ripken Jr. (1982-1983), Ryan Howard (2005-2006), and Dustin Pedroia (2007-2008) for this unique accomplishment. During the 2016 season, Bryant earned 29 out of the 30 first-place votes from the BBWAA for the National League MVP Award.
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