Chicago Cubs: Five storylines to watch in the 2020s

David Ross, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer / Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Ross, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer / Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: For how long will the core stay intact?

Despite the Chicago Cubs’ decline over the past couple of seasons, much of the core that brought the Cubs a World Series title in 2016 remains on the team, at least for now. A few key players have departed. For example, Dexter Fowler left as a free agent after the 2016 season, as we expected, while Jake Arrieta moved on after the 2017 season. Then there’s David Ross, who retired after 2016 but is coming back in 2020 as the new skipper. Also, questions remain about Ben Zobrist‘s future.

It’s to be expected that players will leave over time. Yet many key figures from this run of winning – Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, and Willson Contreras – remain, as these are all young players that were supposed to be part of the young nucleus for many years. (Addison Russell was also supposed to be part of that, but the Cubs finally moved on from him this offseason.)

How long will the “young” nucleus stay together? The first domino from that group could fall this offseason, as Bryant has been the center of trade speculation all offseason long. Contreras and Schwarber have also seen their fair share of trade rumors pop up. Rizzo and Baez seem the least likely to be traded short-term, though both will need to be signed to extensions soon if they are going to be around long-term.

We all know that keeping all these players long-term is a near impossibility, as their cost is going up dramatically and the team is already strapped for cash at this time. Thankfully, the Cubs did decide that Kyle Hendricks was an important figure and locked him up through 2024, but as for the rest of the players mentioned above, important decisions are coming up over the next couple of years, possibly as soon as this winter.