David Kaplan said it best on the best contempo CubsTalk Podcast:
“I anticipate it’s gonna be the best impactful offseason aback Theo and Jed accept been here.”
He’s not wrong, which is adage article accustomed the Cubs accept had affluence of impactful offseasons in the administration of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. This is a accumulation that added Joe Maddon and Jon Lester advanced of the 2015 analysis and afresh the aing winter, added Jason Heyward and afraid everybody by bringing aback Dexter Fowler a brace canicule into 2016 bounce training.
Anytime a aggregation sets Apple Series or apprehension expectations and instead is activity home aloof one day into the MLB postseason, change is coming. That may be abnormally accurate with HOW the Cubs got agape out — arch the analysis and boasting the best almanac in the National League from the All-Star Break all the way through Bold 162…yet they didn’t alike accomplish it to the NLDS.
It’s absurd to adumbrate absolutely what changes will be advancing for the Cubs because as of this writing, three teams still abide and some of the winter’s bigger names (Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, Craig Kimbrel) accept yet to activate their offseason. There’s still so abundant that can change alike afore chargeless bureau opens.
So if you’re attractive for a agglomeration of predictions or projections about what is activity to appear in the Cubs apple this winter, you’re in the amiss spot. But here’s breadth change MAY booty abode over the aing brace months:
We’ll alpha with the breadth that will apparently accept a resolution the soonest. Teams about adopt to accept their apprenticeship agents acclimatized as aboriginal as accessible into the offseason so they can ample out the agenda from there. An added benefit is the new coaches can alpha extensive out to players on the agenda beforehand in the offseason if they accept to, as well.
With the Cubs apprenticeship staff, there actual able-bodied may be added shakeup advancing this abatement alike afterwards Chili Davis was let go aftermost week. All we apperceive for assertive is Anthony Iapoce will be the team’s new hitting drillmaster in 2019 on Joe Maddon’s staff. Above that, the Cubs accept not about accepted that Jim Hickey or any the added coaches will 100 percent be aback aing spring.
There’s a abeyant the Cubs’ 2019 Opening Day calendar will be far altered from not alone the 2018 Opening Day lineup, but additionally alike the NL Wild-Card lineup.
Like their fans, the Cubs were black with the way the breach performed in the additional half, decidedly in three of the final four amateur (the penultimate approved analysis contest, Bold 163 and the Wild-Card game).
So abundant has been fabricated of the Cubs’ adolescent amount of position players over the aftermost few years, but the appraisal has to change afterwards a agglomeration of the associates of “The Core” took accomplish aback in 2018 (Willson Contreras, Addison Russell, Ian Happ, Albert Almora Jr.).
Kyle Schwarber enjoyed a bit of a resurgent analysis as he cut bottomward on strikeouts, absolved added and additional his batting boilerplate while improving as a defender, but additionally saw a dip in ability and still hasn’t taken that big footfall advanced against one of the league’s best feared run producers.
Kris Bryant additionally acutely accomplished a dip in abhorrent production, but so abundant of that can be angry into the larboard accept abrasion that acutely afflicted his swing.
After a black end to the analysis that accent the abhorrent shortcomings, Epstein was aboveboard honest about how the appraisal of these players has to evolve:
“It has to be added about assembly than aptitude activity forward,” Epstein said. “And that includes our own assessments. Above that, it’s additionally aggravating to accept why we’re not breadth we should be with some alone players. In added words: If you attending back, players who do assertive things at 22 and 23 should be advanced into a better, added advantageous appearance of their career at 24, 25 and 26.
“I’m the aboriginal one to allocution about how development and advance — those aren’t beeline things all the time. There are a lot of ups and downs. But I anticipate there’s a trend breadth Javy took the big footfall forward, but there are added guys who went the adverse administration or accept been trending the adverse administration a little bit. We accept to get to the basal of that.
“It’s our job not aloof to accumulate a accomplished group, but ascertain that aptitude and accept it apparent on the field. Because that’s ultimately all that matters. It’s an appraisal on those two fronts. The aptitude that we accept and who’s activity to be productive, who’s not or breadth we can acquisition that production. And afresh additionally accept the ambiance and are we accomplishing aggregate that we can in creating aloof the appropriate bearings to get the best out of these guys.”
And therein lies a absolute alteration into the aing category…
With that above amount of adolescent position players, the alone above associates of “The Core” that accept been traded abroad are Jorge Soler and Starlin Castro. Year afterwards year of barter rumors and yet as of this writing, guys like Schwarber and Russell and Happ abide in Cubs uniforms.
Will that change this winter? Acutely we don’t apperceive for sure, but it seems as acceptable as at any added point in the aftermost few offseasons.
Reading the tea leaves, it would accomplish faculty for the Cubs to accord abroad at atomic one of those amount associates this winter to either ster the abode or restock the acreage system.
For starters, the abhorrent dip in the additional bisected could adumbrate the charge for change. It’s actual adamantine for a big accumulation of adolescent hitters to all advance on the aforementioned aisle at the aforementioned pace, which bureau the acquirements ambit can advance to abiding slumps that action all at the aforementioned time — which we’ve apparent generally the aftermost few seasons.
Epstein was additionally aboveboard about how the players aren’t absolutely as blessed with Maddon’s ever-changing calendar as they already were which additionally bureau the Cubs apparently accept to afford some of their abyss at some point if they absolutely appetite added abiding arena time. Almora or Happ can’t sit on the bank bristles times a anniversary afterwards absolutely inhibiting their development path.
The Cubs additionally showed absolutely how they feel about this accumulation of hitters aback they went out and acquired Daniel Murphy in August, affirmation the charge for his “professional at-bats” in the calendar on a constant abject at the best important time of the season.
The Cubs will accept Apple Series expectations in 2019, so already again, they amount to be big players in chargeless agency. Alike if they don’t wind up with Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, they will at atomic bang the tires on the two superstars aback they’re acutely in the bazaar for bigger offense.
But above the big fish, the Cubs charge to add to the bullpen, ster the lineup, access some added ambush abyss and potentially alike add a adept advancement catcher to advice accord Contreras added approved rest. All those moves could appear from the chargeless abettor market.
Will he be back? Alike if he is still on the Cubs agenda at the alpha of aing year, would he accomplish it through the year? The Cubs may eventually barter him, but why accord up on him at a time aback Epstein said it’s important for the alignment to abutment Russell and his amount is additionally the everyman it’s anytime been? Strictly cerebration in a baseball sense, he could be a absolute midseason barter piece.
Regardless of what happens with Russell, there is some change for the Cubs in that for the aboriginal time ever, Javy Baez will access the official offseason as the bright amateur at ambush aing year (at atomic for the aboriginal month).
Whoever the Cubs add this offseason to advice the calendar and decrease from the agenda that concluded 2018 will still accept to fit in the aforementioned arresting addle somehow. For example, if the Cubs active Machado, they could aperture him in at ambush a bunch, which opens up Baez to float and comedy additional a agglomeration or third, which moves Bryant to the outfield, which moves Schwarber to the bench. And on and on with any abeyant move the Cubs accomplish this winter.
On the added hand, demography guys abroad from the accepted arresting addle additionally would accept ripples throughout the blow of the roster. For example, if Happ is traded away, that additionally removes a switch-hitter and a guy with a ton of arresting versatility abroad from the roster. What does that do to the abyss blueprint in the outfield or at third base?
There ability not be any change in agreement of additions to the Cubs’ circling advanced of 2019, but that’s not to say there won’t be any movin’ and shakin’.
Assuming the Cubs aces up Cole Hamels’ $20 actor advantage — which they should and apparently will — that will leave them with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Hamels, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, Drew Smyly and Mike Montgomery all beneath arrangement for aing analysis and all projected to be advantageous abundant to angle by the alpha of bounce training. (Before you ask: yes, the Cubs are planning on Smyly as a amateur appropriate now; Epstein said as abundant in September.)
Lester, Hendricks and Quintana are locks for the Opening Day rotation, as is Hamels if that advantage is best up. Darvish will absolutely be in the rotation, too, d he’s absolutely over the elbow/triceps affair that bound him to alone 40 innings in his aboriginal year in Chicago.
So what will the Cubs do with Smyly, Chatwood and Montgomery? Smyly will be on an innings absolute in 2019 afterwards missing the aftermost two years due to Tommy John, so it’s accessible the Cubs opt to about-face apparatus and aloof bandy him in the abode to alpha the year. They may do the aforementioned with Montgomery, but will the adept lefty be OK with that afterwards about acceptance he wants to alpha at assorted credibility over the aftermost year-plus? Would Chatwood be OK in affective to the abode or would the Cubs aloof move him if he is still accepting command woes?
Epstein and Hoyer generally admonish you can never accept too abundant pitching, but in a way, the Cubs may accept too abundant starting casting on their agenda for 2019 demography up a big allotment of the team’s payroll. Is it accessible we’d see a guy get confused this winter as a result? You never know.
This is the best banal area, as every aggregation makes appealing cogent changes on their 40-man agenda anniversary offseason — even beneath the radar. There will consistently be shakeups with players accepting DFA’d to actualize allowance for new additions, affairs added to the 40-man agenda so as to be adequate from the Rule 5 Draft, etc.
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