While there are sure to be some free agent signings and wheeling and dealing by Jed Hoyer this offseason, it’s a good bet that a few of your favorite September (and October) Chicago Cubs will still be playing with the team in 2022. We know that won’t be the case for all 67 of the guys the Cubs have used this season, but there’s reason for hope for a few of the bright spots amongst the new-look end of summer North Siders.
Despite the fact that they’re all going to be over 30 years old next season, Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom might just form as interesting a trio as the Cubs have had in quite some time. Are they for real or were they all playing out of their minds in perfect situations for a couple months? Could these guys be mainstays or at least part of platoons depending on what the Cubs go out and do this offseason?
While both of those questions have yet to be answered and won’t be until this offseason and into next spring, it’s a safe bet that all three will be back with the big league club next season in some capacity. Even if Hoyer decides to upgrade at first base, third base or in the outfield, it would be foolish to dismiss productive players who basically cost next to nothing to keep around. Sure, there is a chance one of them could be trade bait at some point if another club comes calling, but it’s more likely the Cubs want to see what these guys can do with some offseason adjustments over the course of an entire season next year.
As scary as it may be, Schwindel and Wisdom proportionately outperformed their star counterparts, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant in 2021, something no one in their right mind would have predicted before or even during the early part of the season. After the trade deadline, the trio of Schwindel, Wisdom, and Ortega combined for 155 games, 639 PA, 34 HR, 95 runs, 97 RBI, and 4.3 fWAR. In what would amount to a full season for one player, those three had a heckuva last third of the season. Add in the fact that Wisdom slashed .276/.344/.601 with 16 home runs and 29 RBI in the 41 games he started before that and that’s a lot to be positive and excited about.
Chicago Cubs: Ortega, Schwindel, and Wisdom formed a powerful trio in 2021.
Sure, each of these guys has their warts, perhaps the largest being that they’re just now starting their big league career… but Wisdom can hit balls ridiculously hard and far when he makes contact, Ortega can mash righties as the strong side of a platoon, and Schwindel did nothing but rake against everyone except the Cardinals.
So, while their roles may be undefined or in limbo during much of the offseason, it’s an almost sure bet that these three guys will be back and contributing to a better 2022 team than they finished with in 201. Heck, with any luck, these guys will be paired with some big name free agents and get to experience a contending team and pennant race.
I, for one, will be rooting all three of these guys on and hope they’re part of a winning 2022 Cubs squad. With the way they scrapped and performed down the stretch, it won’t surprise me to see them all with big roles next season.