2. Extending Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner
Prior to the season, the Cubs agreed to three-year contract extensions for outfielder Ian Happ and second baseman Nico Hoerner. While it's impossible to say how they would have performed had they not signed these deals, the job security surely didn't hurt Happ and Hoerner as they were major components of the team in 2023.
Happ played 150 games in left field and although his defense looked a bit shaky at times, he set career highs in walks (99), and RBI (84) while smacking 35 doubles and 21 home runs.
Hoerner was even better, as he played gold-glove caliber defense at second base, which satisfyingly complimented the defensive prowess of new shortstop Dansby Swanson. At 26 years old, Hoerner was also able to stay healthy and set a career-high in games played at 150 while seemingly solving the team's leadoff hitter problem. An issue that has effectively plagued the team since Dexter Fowler left the team in 2017.
Hoerner thrived in the leadoff role, slashing .283/.346/.383 and becoming the first Cub in over a decade to steal more than 30 bases in a season (43).
Happ and Hoerner are also routinely praised for their leadership qualities, adding an immeasurable aspect to their value. Having them around for the next two seasons on contracts that didn't break the bank was a shrewd move by the front office in my opinion.