Chicago Cubs: Bleacher Report gives team a fitting offseason grade

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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With just weeks until the Chicago Cubs report to Arizona for Spring Training, another offseason report card isn’t sold on the team’s quiet offseason.

When retaining a 35-year-old starting pitcher is the highlight of your offseason, fans are likely to be frustrated. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, that’s putting things mildly.

Chicago comes off a fourth consecutive postseason appearance, albeit one that stopped short of the National League Championship Series for the first time. The 95-win Cubs lost the division in a winner-take-all Game 163 and then fell in 13 innings in the NL Wild Card game to the Colorado Rockies. That bitter taste has lingered in fans’ mouths.

Ownership and the front office could have pushed fans past that disappointment by addressing the weaknesses on the roster as it currently stands. Obviously, Manny Machado or Bryce Harper would’ve shut everyone up right on the spot. But that seems highly unlikely – given the team’s inherent payroll limitations. A few weeks back, a report surfaced indicating the team would have to move money for even a ‘middle-tier’ reliever – hardly a promising sign.

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So the Chicago Cubs appear poised to enter Spring Training with essentially the same roster as last year – with the exception of swapping Tommy La Stella for Daniel Descalso and subtracting Jorge De La Rosa, Jesse Chavez and Justin Wilson from the bullpen.

Wonderful.

Given how much the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers have done this winter, the Cubs’ insistence on standing pat and relying on internal improvements is harrowing, to say the least. On Thursday, Bleacher Report updated their report card for all 30 Major League teams – and things did not go well for Chicago.

After pointing out the Cubs’ only move of note is bringing back veteran Cole Hamels (who they remind us was pretty not great in Texas prior to coming to the North Side last summer), they offer this synopsis of the offseason.

"The Cubs have made no other major trades or signings since then and might enter 2019 with essentially the same roster that lost to the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card Game last season. If so, that won’t sit well with the North Side faithful."

Well, that just about hits in on the head. With a ‘D-‘ grade attached to them, this team once again finds itself staring back into the eyes of a fanbase desperate for another deep October run – even just a year-and-a-half removed from its last NLCS appearance.

When the Cubs opted to let Chavez walk rather than compete with the two-year deal he received from Texas, I opined that was the correct move. It seemed pretty unlikely – bordering on impossible – that the right-hander would match his performance from 2018 over the course of a full season. You could make the same argument for Hamels – who pitched out-of-his-mind baseball in the immediate aftermath of the trade last summer, before coming back to earth with a winless final month in which he posted a 4.10 ERA and 1.205 WHIP.

But the Cubs clearly liked what they saw and brought back Hamels via his $20 million team option – but only after unloading Drew Smyly and his $7 million salary in a trade with the Rangers. You don’t think Chicago could have maybe split those $20 million two or three ways and shored up a bullpen in dire need of reinforcements?

dark. Next. Not adding to this core is nothing but negligence

Bleacher Report hit right it on the head – and might actually be generous not giving the front office a failing grade. Regardless of the reason (even if its an ownership mandate to stay under a certain dollar amount) – the Cubs have ignored too many weaknesses to deserve even a passing grade.

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