The excitement of the offseason has waned with the lockout in effect, but the Chicago Cubs were lucky enough to make some things happen before the shutdown. It’s tough to say how long this lockdown will really last for but the Cubs can feel good about their progress so far. With about $90 spent so far from Jed Hoyer, we take a look at how things stack up compared to the rest of the NL Central so far this winter.
By bringing in Marcus Stroman, Clint Frazier and Yan Gomes, these major league deals help the Cubs in three key areas that provide much upside. Along with Wade Miley, the Cubs rotation seems to be in a much better place than a month ago. The mix of Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, Adbert Alzolay, Wade Miley and Justin Steele is oozing with upside and we don’t even know if this front office is done adding pitching.
The Cubs certainly aren’t done yet and it’ll be interesting to see if the Carlos Correa rumors gain more traction post-lockout. Even if Correa doesn’t pan out, names like Trevor Story, Nick Castellanos and Kris Bryant are still out there. Hoyer has a great foundation to build off once things get going again.
Chicago Cubs are definitely the most improved team in the NL Central
The next team to take a look at is the reigning-division champion Brewers. They’ve lost Avisail Garcia to the Marlins, traded for second baseman Mike Brousseau and signed Pedro Severino and Brett Sullivan to-one year-deals. They’ve been on the quieter side outside of the trade for Hunter Renfroe – but as we all know GM Matt Arnold loves to look for smaller moves with value.
Many questions remain for this Milwaukee team. Will they finally trade Josh Hader? What else will they do to fix an offense that finished 14th in the NL with a .233 average? There’s much uncertainty in Milwaukee right now and this pause certainly doesn’t help.
After the Brewers, let’s look at the St. Louis Cardinals. They got the ball rolling in the Central this winter by signing Steven Matz for four years and $44 million. This was a solid pickup for a team that dealt with so many injuries in their rotation. Before the Cubs added Stroman fans were disappointed Matz wasn’t on his way to Chicago.
The Cardinals still have questions to answer as well. Adding another bat will be key but don’t expect too much more from a front office that isn’t known to make many big splashes.
The Reds have not made any major league signings to this point, have lost Miley to the Cubs and Castellanos opted-out of his contract and will look to sign elsewhere. They’re a team that’s shedding payroll like crazy – and almost every quality starter in that rotation is up for grabs.
The last team is the Pirates. Their two bigger moves so far are the additions of old friend Jose Quintana and catcher Roberto Perez. They also dealt Jacob Stallings to Miami and acquired starter Zach Thompson in return.
With names like Adam Frazier, now Stallings and Collin Moran out of Pittsburgh, there’s some uncertainty with how the makeup of this team will look. They’ve made a few nice smaller moves so far, almost similar to the Cubs but this team has a lot further to go.
It’s been a low-key offseason so far in the NL Central. A lot of excitement was around Stroman but keep in mind this is the Cubs first signing of over two years since Yu Darvish. I would say the Cubs have improved the most in terms of offseason moves out of any team in the Central and there’s much anticipation to see what happens when this lockout is over. Good things are starting to happen on the North Side.