As of Dec. 16, every team in the National League Central has made a solid move toward their future -except for the Chicago Cubs. The St. Louis Cardinals have signed multiple starting pitchers; the Pittsburgh Pirates recently signed Rowdy Tellez, the Cincinnati Reds grabbed Jeimer Candelario and the Milwaukee Brewers have extended their top prospect on a long-term deal. However, it's not quite time to panic as the Cubs still have ample time to make a significant splash this winter.
The team is projected to do poorly at this juncture as it sits. If you have a couple minutes to do some math, you can take Fangraphs' projected 2024 winning percentages and chart out the win-loss marks for the division pretty easily.
- 1: St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)
- 2: Milwaukee Brewers (80-82)
- 3: Chicago Cubs (79-83)
- 4: Cincinnati Reds (76-86)
- 5: Pittsburgh Pirates (76-86)
Chicago Cubs know they have work to do if they want to contend in 2024
The Cubs have find a way to avoid getting left in the dust by their NL Central foes. After hiring Craig Counsell, not adding a player of significance makes the record-breaking managerial hire a questionable one. It's hard to believe they plan on asking their new skipper to do less with more - and we know they've at least been on the edges of talks on multiple big name free agents, despite having nothing to show for it.
Shohei Ohtani wound up signing for far more than the Cubs were comfortable with. Despite a glaring need for another top-end starting pitcher, Chicago is not even in the running for Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Regardless of what the pessimist will tell you about a lost offseason, in December, the Cubs are still a Cody Bellinger signing and a good trade away from seriously competing for a division title in 2024.
There's still a lot that can be done to turn this team into a contender next season, and although it appears the Cubs are currently dragging their feet, there's a lot of road left to travel between now and Opening Day. It will certainly be a major disappointment if the Cubs don't make a major move, but a bit of patience needs to be exercised while Jed Hoyer figures out the best way to pull the trigger.
The Cardinals and Reds pose the biggest threat. St. Louis' new rotation will make or break them. They still have two perennial All-Stars in Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, but that revamped staff has a lot of age in it. With Milwaukee losing Brandon Woodruff and possibly looking to trade Corbin Burnes, the division is there for the taking. Given the circumstances, it's unfathomable the team won't look drastically different two months from now.