Cubs, once again, desperately need a true on-base presence in the lineup

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

It’s yet another offseason where the Cubs need an on-base threat atop the order.

I swear, I’ve written this piece annually since Dexter Fowler took his World Series ring and his talents to the rival St. Louis Cardinals following the 2016 campaign. Another winter is coming and here we sit, talking about a Chicago Cubs offense that fell flat this season.

Sure, the Cubs came away with another National League Central crown in 2020, but all told, with the end of the road rapidly approaching for the beloved core from four years ago, we expected more from the team – especially after a scorching 13-3 start to the season.

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What happened? Simple. The same thing that’s taken place annually since 2018. Down the stretch, the offense sputtered in a big way. Come October, the Cubs looked overmatched by a Miami Marlins team that shocked the baseball world, overcoming an early-season COVID-19 outbreak that sidelined nearly 20 players to reach the postseason for the first time since 2003.

I know the front office is likely to face stiff resistance from ownership when it comes to spending in the weeks and months to come. But there has to be someone out there the Cubs can afford to fill a need that’s lingered for years: a strong on-base presence atop the order.

The team has tried near-everything to fix the leadoff issue in recent years. Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo – the list goes on and on. Only Rizzo has enjoyed sustained success in the role, but in an ideal scenario, you’re not moving your perennial 30-homer guy into the leadoff spot simply out of necessity.

Perhaps Theo Epstein could trade one of his free agents-to be to shake up the feel of this lineup. A Kris Bryant trade isn’t out of the realm of possibility – as it would help Chicago shed a major amount of payroll: an estimated $18.9 million. 

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I’ll get into some of those candidates in the days and weeks to come. But it’s certainly frustrating we’re sitting here, yet again, talking about the same glaring hole in the makeup of this roster – one that’s gone unaddressed year after year, as we’ve watched this issue rear its ugly head late in the season, costing the team any chance at a deep October run.