The Atlanta Braves continued to provide the blueprint for the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball on Tuesday night with the six-year, $73MM contract extension that they agreed to terms with catcher Sean Murphy. Murphy was acquired by the Braves in a trade with the Oakland Athletics earlier this offseason and now the Braves have locked up their catcher for the next six seasons. The Braves' extension with Murphy continues a trend that the team has followed in regard to their current core.
The downfall of the previous Cubs' contending window was the front office's inability to secure long-term extensions with their previous core. Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks was the only member of the Cubs' 2016 World Series team to sign a team-friendly extension. Ultimately, outside of the decision to non-tender Kyle Schwarber, the argument could be made that the Cubs made the right decision.
Having said that, sustainable success for a franchise in Major League Baseball must include a willingness to extend players that are a part of the current core. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs have learned from their mistake and if extensions are made with outfielder Ian Happ and shortstop Nico Hoerner at some point this offseason.
Chicago Cubs' plan for Nelson Velazquez
If there was a criticism to be had with Chicago Cubs manager David Ross for the 2022 season, it would be for his use of outfielder Nelson Velazquez. After making his Major League debut with the Cubs last May, Velazquez saw limited playing time with the team in the second half of the season as Ross picked his spots in regard to when to play the 24-year-old outfielder. Velazquez finished the season with a .205/.286/.373 slash line in 206 plate appearances at the Major League level with a .291 wOBA and 87 wRC+. There is certainly power to unlock in Velazquez's bat but the best path for him at the start of the 2023 season would be to play every day with the Iowa Cubs. Now that the Cubs have data to analyze in regard to the current shortcomings in his swing, Velazquez can work on the fixes with the Iowa Cubs with the hope of finding his stride.
New Chicago Cubs' pitcher Roenis Elias shines in Winter League start
Roenis Elias, recently signed by the Chicago Cubs on a minor league deal, shined on a Tuesday in his start in a Winter League playoff game.