Based on an article published by MLB dot com, the Chicago Cubs find themselves in the most improved division in all of baseball. A team of writers at MLB.com found seven teams that they believed will “improve by leaps and bounds,” with the potential to “raise their win totals by double digits in ‘24,” and two of those teams are in the NL Central.
The Cincinnati Reds are on the list despite having already skyrocketed in terms of win total between 2022 and 2023. That being said, Thomas Harrigan pointed out:
"Position players Elly De La Cruz (22 years old), Matt McLain (24), Christian Encarnacion-Strand (24) and Noelvi Marte (22) each debuted last season, as did pitcher Andrew Abbott (24) -- and they all made significant contributions to Cincinnati’s turnaround. However, McLain was the only one of the five who appeared with the Reds before June, and even he played only 89 games last year."- Thomas Harrigan, MLB.com
Between those young position players, Andrew Abbott, Hunter Greene, and Nick Lodolo the team was already looking good. However, this offseason they dipped into the pocketbook in a way that the Cubs just can’t seem to do and also signed 2023 Chicago Cub INF Jeimer Candelerio, RHP Frankie Montas, RHP Nick Martinez, RHP Emilio Pagan, and LHP Brent Suter.
While the team still has a lot of work to do considering the age and lack of experience of their position players and the volatility of their rotation, there’s a lot to like with this team and they could easily become a playoff squad in 2024.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals also made the list which shouldn’t come as a shock. The idea that the Cardinals would have multiple losing seasons in a row is unlikely and after a 71-91 record last year if they made it back to .500 they’d make a ten-game improvement over 2023.
That being said, there is legitimate reason to be concerned about the improvements that St. Louis has made. They signed RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Kyle Gibson, and RHP Lance Lynn. They then traded for RHP Andrew Kittredge and LHP Nick Robertson.
The team is still pretty old. The pitching additions they made certainly appear to be stopgaps rather than long-term solutions and neither Paul Goldschmidt nor Nolan Arenado are spring chickens, but INF Masyn Winn and RHP Tink Hence appear ready to make a difference at the major league level sooner rather than later so the Cardinals could provide significant problems for the Cubs this season.
Not mentioned in this article were the Pittsburgh Pirates who have four prospects in the Top 100 on top of Henry Davis, Nick Gonzales, and Endy Rodriguez who were all Top 100 prospects that made their debuts last year. Also not mentioned were the 2023 division-winning Milwaukee Brewers.
However, most notably absent from that list were the Chicago Cubs who have had as close to a silent offseason as you can have from the third largest market in American sports, but let’s keep “spending intelligently".