It seems like no one, including the Cubs, actually wants to win the NL Central.
So who is going to win the NL Central this year? The Cubs? What about the Brewers or Reds? Heck, even the Cardinals are a question mark. The Pirates? Well, no because they’re awful.
Everyone in the division seems to be entering 2021 in a weaker spot than they were a year prior, the Cubs included. Chicago traded Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres, with Willson Contreras potentially available on the block, as well. That would leave the club with no catchers, by the way – just some food for thought.
On top of that, the Cubs let Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora walk. Jose Quintana, too. I don’t know what’s going on with Jon Lester. Despite earlier reported interest in a reunion on both sides, there’s been little in the way of progress. Given the club’s dire need of arms, maybe they can bring him back on a one-year deal with an option for 2023. After all, he’s heading into his age-37 season.
That means, once again, you’re betting heavily on Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Contreras offensively. Hopefully, Jason Heyward and Ian Happ can build on their performances from a year ago. On the mound? At least in the rotation the only familiar faces are Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills.
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Chicago netted Zach Davies from the Padres, and he’s probably your number two starter right now. The bench isn’t great. Sure, you have Phil Ervin and Max Schrock. But neither are even sure-things to make the roster out of camp.
And what about the division opponents? Cincinnati is going to lose Trevor Bauer and are actively shopping Sonny Gray. Milwaukee has to have Christian Yelich rebound and their pitching is pretty suspect. The Pirates? Call me in five years and we’ll see where things stand.
Which brings us to St. Louis. A perennial contender, the team went just 30-28 in the shortened 2020 season. The problem is since non-tendering Kolten Wong, the team has done little to improve – and are yet to bring back franchise icons Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright.
It’s a toss-up. The Cubs clearly aren’t spending. Rather, they look like they’re poised for a significant sell-off. The good news? No one else in the division seems to be putting any effort in improving either. Get ready for a whole lot of pedestrian baseball in the NL Central in 2021.