Do the Chicago Cubs have the next “Core Four” in place?
By Joshua Burt
I know, I can already hear the hate in the comments section. However, stop and think about it for a minute. The Chicago Cubs have signed a couple of players to be the next “Core Four” until the next group of hotshot prospects makes their way to the big leagues.
Every team would like to have a handful of individuals who will be the centerpieces of their franchises. You had the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati back in the 1970s. There was the Core Four from the New York Yankees in the 1990s. Finally, you had the Chicago Cubs version seven years ago.
There is plenty of hype around Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennan Davis, Christopher Morel, and Matt Mervis. Unfortunately, it seems like all three of these players won’t be making their debuts between this year and the next two years. For now, Cubs fans will need to focus on the team that is in place.
It all started last year with the signing of Seiya Suzuki with his five-year $85 million deal. It was followed up with the spending spree from this past offseason. World Series champion Dansby Swanson inked a seven-year $177 million mega-deal followed up with a pair of extensions. Ian Happ (three years $61 million) and Nico Hoerner (three years $35 million) rounded out this current Cubs core of everyday positional players.
They may not be the best in baseball, but they will be foundational pieces for this franchise moving forward soon. All four of them are either entering the prime of their careers or already there. This is including the fact all of them are under the age of 30.
Suzuki is the most accomplished (according to his time in Japan). During his stint with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, he was a six-time Best Nine Award winner, five-time Central League Golden Glove award winner, and a five-time NPB All-Star. He was also a two-time Central League Batting Champion before signing with the Chicago Cubs.
Swanson is coming off a year where he was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, and finished 12th in the National League MVP voting. He is also an MLB lifetime hitter sporting a .299 batting average. Ian Happ had a productive year in 2022. He made his first All-Star team and won a Gold Glove award for left field. Finally, to make room for Swanson, Hoerner had to switch positions from shortstop to second base. The 26-year-old has a lifetime average of .277 and is coming off his first full Major League Baseball season.
Time will tell how well these individuals will contribute to the Cubs as a whole. The old Core Four of Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, and Contreras had a combined 12 All-Stars, five Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger awards, and one Most Valuable Player accolade. This group will most likely be judged based on past performances.
More importantly, this group will need to bring home at least one World Series championship to even be considered on the same level. They will need to settle an example of productivity with the new wave of talent whenever they make their arrival. So, for now, the Cubs have a “Core Four” until further notice.