Between the probably-too-late fire sale last summer and the
labor unrest prolonged ownership cash grab over the offseason, the Cubs franchise has spent the least amount of time in decades living rent-free in my head. But as soon as the new CBA was finally ratified, like clockwork I found myself checking to see when the Cubs travel to Denver and itching to throw Pat Hughes on while I’m at work.
The Cubs have made a few moves this offseason, for once, but I’m not sure if anything actually moves the needle. Here’s a quick look at who’s new. Later* I’ll take a look at the depth chart and what’s gone on around the division.
Seiya Suzuki, RF
The Cubs signed Suzuki to a 5 year, $85m contract in early March, after things reopened following the owner-imposed lockout. Suzuki is 27 and was one of the top all-around players in Japan, posting a 1.000+ OPS and hitting 38 homers last season for the Hiroshima Carp. He’s also reportedly a plus defender, and his arrival probably ends whatever remaining chances Jason Heyward has to remain an everyday starter. He walked nearly as often as he struck out in NPB, which is certainly a skillset this team has been missing for some time. It’s tough to tell how his skills will translate to MLB, but most evaluators seem to think that even if he doesn’t break out, he has a pretty solid floor. If he does indeed break out in the bigs, given his relatively young age and relatively modest deal, this could end up being a steal for the Cubs down the road. Hopefully they can put enough guys around him.
Marcus Stroman, RHP
Stroman is a much more known quantity, posting multiple solid to great years with the Blue Jays after he made it to the bigs. Aside from a lost season struggling with shoulder and blister issues in 2018, he has posted 3-4 WAR every year. Most importantly for Cubs fans collective sanity, he has posted a walk rate much more reminiscent of Kyle Hendricks over the course of his career, especially since joining the NL. The Cubs signed him for a 3/71 deal just before the lockout, and he decided to go for the number 0 as his uniform number.
Wade Miley, LHP
Miley’s numbers have been up and down over the past few years, and he’s long been a That Guy around the league. He’s pretty much the poster child for League Average Pitcher in MLB right now, which has some value, though he did throw a no-hitter early last year during the bizarre rash of no-hitters around the league early in the season. The Cubs picked him up off waivers from the Reds during the offseason as they dumped salary. If I’m reading things right he’s basically on a 1/15 deal with the Cubs.
Andrelton Simmons, SS
This would have been a more exciting signing five years ago. Simmons signed for 1/4, and I’m hoping that he’s mostly backing up / mentoring Nico Hoerner rather than playing every day. For the first 7-8 years or so of his career he looked like the second coming of Ozzie Smith with the glove, and even managed to post above average offensive numbers a time or two. However, he had a putrid season at the plate last year, and his defensive numbers have taken a gigantic step back over the past three seasons.
Nick Madrigal, 2B
The Cubs picked up Madrigal from the White Sox in the Kimbrel trade, but he had recently had hamstring surgery and was out for the rest of the 2021 season. Continuing a theme of the Cubs picking up guys with skillsets they previously lacked, Madrigal is an extreme contact hitter. He’ll be under team control for another 4-5 years and could be an interesting ‘prospect’.
Clint Frazier, OF/DH
Frazier seems like he’ll probably get most of the DH plate appearances this year. He’s not nearly as good of a player as a remember from his days from the Yankees; he only posted a WAR above 1.0 once in his five years there. I guess my impression of him was inflated by all the Poscast hate. Jed Hoyer is not a listener as Frazier signed for 1/1.5. He’s been plagued by injuries for most of his career, and missed the back half of last season due to lingering dizziness and vision issues, but has a clean bill of health at the moment
Yan Gomes, C
Gomes has had a few solid years as an everyday starter, but is likely to settle into the above-average backup role for the rest of his career. He signed a 2/13 deal with the Cubs.
Drew Smyly, RHP
The Cubs signed Smyly back in 2017 as a Tommy John recovery lottery ticket, but his rehab took longer than they hoped. He was eventually traded and bounced around the league a bit, eventually landing as a back of the rotation guy on last years World Series Championship team.
There is also the usual couple of rando journeyman relievers who signed with the Cubs, maybe I’ll care enough to write about them once we find out if they made the team.
*At this rate, probably sometime in August