Chicago Cubs: Transitioning to the next great core
As is customary to all good things that come to an end, we tend to catastrophize, believing that there will never be another thing as great as what had just been, and that is not true. In this case, it is the loss of the core that made baseball fun again in Wrigleyville.
We will always have those memories, and now, it is time for this club to make new memories, which begins with a new infield chock-full of intriguing young prospects. Starting at first base, expect it to be Bryce Ball. Think Anthony Rizzo but taller. Ball came to Chicago in a deal for outfielder Joc Pederson, a strong return on a rental.
Ball slashed .329/.395/.628 in 2019, his first professional season. Combining for 17 home runs and 52 RBI, the former Dallas Baptist star showed the power that made him an intriguing draft prospect. He has struggled this season, but first base is his spot, and he should be the next great corner infielder in Chicago.
Holding down the middle infield will be no small feat after Javier Báez brought the fire every night with his defensive wizardry. Thankfully, the Cubs have several big names who will continue to grow. Fathoming a guess specifically for 2025, I would imagine former Chicago White Sox infielder Nick Madrigal and last summer’s first-round draft pick, Ed Howard, as the central tandem.
Without going too much into every name individually, the Cubs have a crazy amount of middle infield depth in their system. Based on FanGraphs’ top Cubs prospects, five of the top 15 are classified as middle infield. Not a bad problem to have. Reginald Preciado and Cristian Hernandez could also be the guys and do not forget about Chase Strumpf, who may find himself as the odd man out in a crowded group.
To close out the infield, the hope at the hot corner will be the newest draft pick, James Triantos. Considered a top-50 prep prospect last summer, the latest Cub instead shifted his declaration up a year. His above-average hitting abilities and bat speed can give fans something to look forward to as Triantos has impossibly large shoes to fill. Everything with this infield could change by next year, but how it stands now, this is how I believe it to shake out.