Chicago Cubs: What if the Cardinals went big in free agency this winter?

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

You might think the Chicago Cubs losing out on marquee names is a worst-case scenario. But what if one of those guys wound up in St. Louis this winter?

If the St. Louis Cardinals found a way to finally make the impact free agent signing they’ve missed out on the last three seasons, the National League Central could be wide open in 2019. Signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper would put St. Louis back in position to win the NL Central, potentially leaving the Chicago Cubs on the outside looking in.

No one really knows what Chicago will do this offseason. Based on multiple reports, the team isn’t looking to blow past the luxury tax threshold. But it’s hard to imagine Theo Epstein and Cubs ownership standing pat after a disappointing early exit in October.

Meanwhile, St. Louis has missed three consecutive postseasons, their last coming in 2015 when the Cubs eliminated their division rival in the National League Division Series. With longstanding postseason expectations embedded in that city, don’t expect that trend to continue.

Let’s backtrack what St. Louis has done the last few winters, shall we?