2 Chicago Cubs weaknesses that have to be addressed in 2024

The 2023 Chicago Cubs had a number of weak links that are no longer with the team. Is that addition by subtraction enough?

Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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The Chicago Cubs are running it back in 2024 with a very similar roster to the one they missed the playoffs with in 2023 which has led some to say that they’ve had one of the most disappointing offseasons in Major League Baseball. 

It’s great to have Cody Bellinger back, and if that had happened earlier in the offseason there’s a chance that we could have avoided that not-so-superlative. However, even with him back the only way for this team to go from the outside of the playoff race to having a legitimate shot is to improve, and the Cubs may have targeted the right guys to do that. 

According to Jay Jaffe at Fangraphs, the Cubs had the 24th adjusted WAR from catchers last season and the 25th adjusted WAR for first basemen, but those are the only two obvious areas where the 2023 Cubs were below league average.

Catcher

The Cubs will improve simply by subtraction without Tucker Barnhart acting as an anchor to this group. Last season he was worth -0.5 WAR in just 123 plate appearances by carrying a .202/.285/.257 slash line and collecting just four extra-base hits. To those that would point to his defense, he was worth -0.1 WAR according to Baseball Reference behind the dish as well, so that doesn’t hold water. 

Beyond the loss of Barnhart the Cubs figure to give Miguel Amaya a much more even split with Yan Gomes than last season where Gomes played more than twice as many games (116) than Amaya (53). Last season was Amaya’s first in the majors after a series of unfortunate injury setbacks that held the former top prospect back and it’s reasonable to expect him to improve in 2024.

While Amaya’s second-half numbers last season were demonstrably worse across the board than his first-half numbers, there’s hope throughout the organization that he can be the guy he was in June that hit .294/.429/.529 while playing league-average defense. He’s still just 24 years old, so expecting a jump forward isn’t completely unreasonable.