Nico Hoerner says the Cubs have what they need to compete in 2024

Without major offseason additions, especially offensively, this team is betting everything on familiar faces taking their games to new levels in 2024.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Let me just preface this right now by acknowledging that there are still a lot of free agents out there and the Cubs could, at least in theory, sign any number of them between now and Opening Day.

But solely looking at this roster as it's currently constructed, Jed Hoyer is poised to send his new $8 million-a-year manager into battle with a team that, at best, is no better than last year's club and, more accurately, is a step below what we saw in 2023. And let's not forget how that played out for us, with a spectacular September collapse and missing the postseason entirely.

If Chicago is going to be playing October baseball, it'll take a lot of familiar faces outperforming what they did a year ago - and a number of rookies exceeding expectations. For what it's worth, though, it's a group that the team's Gold Glove second baseman, Nico Hoerner, has a lot of faith in.

Like I said - and as Hoerner notes - maybe Hoyer will come out on top in the staring match with Scott Boras in the coming weeks. But if he doesn't it's on a lot of the guys we've become familiar with to find a way to push the Cubs into the postseason for the first time in a full season since 2018.

The projected Cubs lineup is hardly something pitchers will fear

The offense, in particular, is worrisome because without Cody Bellinger, the team lacks a major middle-of-the-order run producer. Even with him as the lineup's centerpiece in 2023, the team couldn't get the job done. Now, you're saying that Michael Busch is going to be your big bat and that you're comfortable betting on guys like Pete Crow-Armstrong producing on a daily basis?

The Cubs need a lot to go right without any further moves to contend. Seiya Suzuki needs to be the guy he was down the stretch over the course of 162 games. Christopher Morel needs to continue to cut down on the strikeouts while driving in runs and Dansby Swanson will not only need to be a Gold Glove infielder, but a consistent run producer, as well.

Hoerner is saying all the right things, but it's hard to see how this team has legitimately improved since the closing days of the 2023 campaign. There's still time to change that - and I believe Hoyer will - but if you look at the projected lineup right now, it doesn't exactly inspire a ton of confidence.