Cubs: National League Central will be far less competitive in 2021

Wrigley Field / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Wrigley Field / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /
4 of 6
Chicago Cubs
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images /

Chicago Cubs: Cincinnati could also wheel and deal

The Reds were a popular dark horse pick to win the NL Central last year.

Cincinnati did make the playoffs, though it just snuck in the back door with a 31-29 mark despite an NL Cy Young performance from Trevor Bauer.

But, Bauer is headed for free agency, and the Reds will have a brutal time trying to sign him in a winter where big-market teams have an added advantage and the New York Mets suddenly look like major spenders.

It is possible the Reds already understand they could be forced to reassess. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Cincinnati is open to trading right-hander Sonny Gray, a move that would almost certainly suggest a competitive shift unless it gets a star in return.

The Reds might also be open to dealing one of Raisel Iglesias or Archie Bradley, both of whom are closer prototypes and will each be free agents at the end of the year.

Cincinnati is somewhat caught between a rock and a hard place. The Reds need offense and could pursue a star, but they also are likely to lose Bauer and desperately need farm assets.