The Chicago Cubs continued its rebuild in 2022, one that had its pluses and minuses. Chicago only won 74 games last season, but did see strong performances from the likes of Ian Happ, Justin Steele, and Keegan Thompson. Entering the 2023 season, the Cubs are set to look quite different.
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- C Tucker Barnhart
- 1B/OF Cody Bellinger
- RHP Brad Boxberger
- 1B Eric Hosmer
- 1B/DH Trey Mancini
- SS Dansby Swanson
- RHP Jameson Taillon
It was a rather active for the Cubs. Chicago bolstered its bullpen with Brad Boxberger, and addressed the team’s struggles at first last season with Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer. Getting back to the pitchers for a minute, Chicago added another starter to its rotation in RHP Jameson Taillon to a multi-year deal. The Cubs received quite solid results from the likes of Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, and Justin Steele last season, and the team’s rotation should look better with the ex-Yankee. Taillon posted his best ERA (3.91) since 2018 with the Yankees last season, and owned an impressive 1.6 BB/9.
The two most notable additions for the Cubs, though, were Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson. Bellinger comes to Chicago after being non-tendered by the Dodgers in November. The 28-year-old dominated pitchers in the first three seasons of his career, a span in which Bellinger won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 and the NL MVP award two years later. But, Bellinger’s number took a precipitous drop over the past two seasons. The ex-Dodger posted the eight-worst batting average (.199) and 15th-worst OPS (.623) among all players who accumulated at least 600 plate appearances from 2021-22.
Swanson, meanwhile, will head to Chicago after a strong stretch from 2020-22 with the Braves. The Vanderbilt product turned into the one of the best shortstops in the league, both at the plate and in the field. Now, he heads to the Cubs to join Nico Hoerner in the middle infield.
- C Willson Contreras
- OF Rafael Ortega
- OF Jason Heyward
- LHP Wade Miley
- 1B Alfonso Rivas
- 1B Frank Schwindel
The Cubs did lose a key piece of the team’s lineup over the last few seasons, as Willson Contreras signed a multi-year deal with the Cardinals in December. While Chicago did sign Tucker Barnhart to replace Contreras, the new Cubs catcher will most likely not have the same offensive impact. Last season in Chicago, Contreras finished second in home runs (22) and first in OPS (.815).
Other notable losses include LHP Wade Miley (Brewers) and OF Jason Heyward (Dodgers). Miley missed out of 2022, but did pitch well for Chicago when healthy. As for Heyward, the Cubs indicated in September that the 2016 World Series champion would not return to the Cubs for 2023. The 33-year-old signed a Minor League deal with the Dodgers this winter.
The loss of Contreras will sting, but the Cubs did improve in key areas. Chicago received poor production at first from Alfonso Rivas and Frank Schwindel, both of whom won’t be back for next season. Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer are set to take on the duties at first for 2023. The Cubs also were in the market for one of the “big four” shortstops, and nabbed one of them in Swanson.
It’s going to be an uphill climb for the Cubs to complete in 2023, but Chicago does stand to improve its win total from 2022. A slew of new veterans, as well as a solid farm system, set the Cubs up well going forward.