Next year’s Chicago Cubs team could look a lot like this year’s squad

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

With the 2021 season a wash, all the anticipation is now centered around the offseason and the money the Chicago Cubs have to spend. The current team is highlighted by journeymen such as Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindel. While they’ve been fun to watch, their age is a question of concern as to whether they can be reliable pieces to help the next great Cubs team. With a lot of uncertainty still in the air, 2022 may turn into a re-creation of this season.

Jed Hoyer and his front office have a huge opportunity this offseason to begin the creation of the next great Cubs team. With only three players under contract for next season, you can’t find another team with more flexibility than the Cubs. Jason Heyward, Kyle Hendricks and David Bote are the three names and there’s only one for sure starter in that mix.

However, with all the cap space and roster flexibility comes great responsibility. Sure, the Cubs could load up on free agents and go for it next season, but is that the best long-term solution? Probably not. When real expectations are set for 2022, something just like this season could fit the bill.

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With the way the Cubs rookies have been performing this year, they’ve made an excellent case for themselves to be part of this team next season, which increases the flexibility in terms of the checkbook. Patrick Wisdom has an OPS of .878 with 25 home runs and 2.4 WAR.He’s making $570K this season and is under team control until 2027 along with NL Rookie of the Month Frank Schwindel who is hitting .302 with an OPS of .928.

Ortega is hitting .293 with with an .830 OPS and is making $570K this year while under team control until 2026. These three rookies are all around 30 years old, are making league minimum salaries and putting up big numbers.

There’s a very real possibility this is a ‘core’ for next season. Having this type of production for not even $2 million combined is something the Cubs should take advantage of. Hoyer can use the cap to sign free agents to shorter-term deals and take the same approach as this season. Put a team on the field that has a chance to compete and if they don’t perform, flip those short term deals at the deadline, continue to build the farm system and get this team ready to really compete in 2023.

Everyone wants a short rebuild and Hoyer has said multiple times that this won’t be like 2014, but patience is key in building this next group. Realistically, this team could build a contender for next season but spending another year getting the farm system back to what it was is important. The organization does not want to ever be in this position again and spending more time improving the pipeline would go a long way in terms of sustainable and consistent success.

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There’s no reason for the Cubs to not put a winning team on the field year in and year out. However, the organization has hit a reset and Hoyer wants to build this his way. Next season could be another painful ride for the fans but if another year of struggle sets this team up for consistent results, it’ll be all worth it.