Winning in 2023

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Winning in 2023

Postby Tim » Mon Jul 04, 2022 7:20 pm

As bad as this year has been, I don't think we're that far off from being able to field a really good team next year. Probably not a 100+ win team, but certainly one good enough to make the expanded playoffs and build from there.

On offense, the Cubs are almost exactly average even with large negative contributions from Heyward, Schwindel, Simmons, Villar, Hermosillo, Madrigal, Bote, Frazier and Rivas. That's around 900 at bats given to players who were ranged from really bad to god awful this year. There are some good pieces in place moving forward with Hoerner, Happ, Wisdom, Morel and Suzuki all being players I feel really good putting into a starting lineup for next year. A Gomes/Higgins tandem at catcher isn't great, but it probably won't hurt much, either. So that's six of nine positions spoken for with positive contributors.

It is relatively easy to get better overall performance by replacing the bad players with league average ones. Doing something like signing Mancini to play first base would be a big improvement to the team (though he wouldn't be my particular pick). We should also look to consolidate some of our young players into a trade for a pre-arbitration big leaguer at a position of need to avoid losing people in the coming 40 man roster crunch this offseason. I'd really like us to buy this trade deadline in addition to our selling.

What the group lacks from all of the activity above is star power. As much as I'd love to get one of the big shortstops on the market this offseason, I just don't see Jed committing the 7-10 years it would take to sign Bogaerts, Correa or Turner. Intellectually, I can buy into that. Very few of those contracts ends up being an overall win for the team signing the deal. We'll probably need to develop our own superstar in the coming years, which is why I see the outlook as becoming a much better team, but not a great one for at least a couple years.

On the SP side...it's not quite as bleak as I thought it would be. I think Stroman will be fine. Between Steele, Thompson and Killian, we should be able to settle in on a quality pair of starters there. So that's three rotation spots filled with decent to good quality. Hendricks is likely on his way out at this point. If he comes on strong in the second half, so much the better. But I wouldn't plan on him being important next year.

There are a whole bunch of starters up and down the quality range in FA. They should sign at least one bigger name to compete for the top spot in the rotation. They should sign/acquire at least one more SP that can eat innings at a reasonably effective quality. Additional SP help could be coming from the farm, but it wouldn't be until the second half or even 2024. But at that point, there's a pretty decent pipeline starting to build up.

They'll need to restock relievers, as well, but that's one area where I have absolute confidence in this front office.

Payroll should be available as they only have around $108M committed so far for next season. It shouldn't be too much of a challenge to bring in a few league average (or better) players at 1B, CF, 2B and/or DH. There should be plenty of cash to bring in a high-quality and a mid-quality starter. The farm is already starting to produce better and that should continue to ramp up in coming years. I can easily see them as an 88-92 win team next year by making these fairly modest improvements. Then they could continue to ramp up after that for future seasons.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Transmogrified Tiger » Mon Jul 04, 2022 8:22 pm

I've been dreaming up different deadline/offseason combinations recently, and I think depending on a few factors next year could be reminiscent of 2015, or a hybrid of 2014-2015. There's two spots that stick out to me that could be really important in which of those two outcomes are more possible.

1. Catcher. Willson is the obvious big decision here, but even if you consider him gone it's a position with a lot of potential outcomes. They could let Gomes soak up most of the playing time while a prospect(deadline return? Amaya?) gets ready, they could sign a starter for non-trivial money like Narvaez, they could do a low cost partner(maybe Barnhart?) to suffice while the position sorts itself out league-wide(robo zones, SB incentives), I honestly don't know

2. "Lefty masher". This person could play a number of positions and (un)fortunately there's some flexibility in their defensive home. The important thing is that the offense needs a big anchor(related to the lack of starpower), and they are in desperate need for left handed production from outside the org. This could come from a deadline return(I mentioned Kirilloff before, but it could be a a power-first prospect that's ready for a shot), an offseason reclamation project, or a bit of a larger investment(Josh Bell?). Unfortunately there are not an abundance of obviously good options here so you kinda have to read between the lines and be more hopeful for unexpectedly positive outcomes.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Backtobanks » Tue Jul 05, 2022 11:37 am

Any trades made this season (and offseason) have to prioritize receiving pitching in return. It's more fun dreaming about signing (or receiving) offensive players, but pitching is the key to a playoff spot.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Tim » Tue Jul 05, 2022 12:30 pm

Backtobanks wrote:Any trades made this season (and offseason) have to prioritize receiving pitching in return. It's more fun dreaming about signing (or receiving) offensive players, but pitching is the key to a playoff spot.

If you're talking about us trading prospects for pitchers, then there's a problem. The issue is the willingness of other teams to part with the players. How often have you seen any good, established, pre-arbitration pitchers being traded for prospects? I'm sure there's been some, but I can't think of any right now.

If you're suggesting that the Cubs should prioritize getting MLB-ready (or established) pitching in return for Willson, Robertson, etc., then I somewhat agree. I'm hoping for the maximum amount of talent in return. I'd prefer for that talent to be on the pitching side, if possible.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Tim » Tue Jul 05, 2022 12:59 pm

Transmogrified Tiger wrote:I've been dreaming up different deadline/offseason combinations recently, and I think depending on a few factors next year could be reminiscent of 2015, or a hybrid of 2014-2015. There's two spots that stick out to me that could be really important in which of those two outcomes are more possible.

1. Catcher. Willson is the obvious big decision here, but even if you consider him gone it's a position with a lot of potential outcomes. They could let Gomes soak up most of the playing time while a prospect(deadline return? Amaya?) gets ready, they could sign a starter for non-trivial money like Narvaez, they could do a low cost partner(maybe Barnhart?) to suffice while the position sorts itself out league-wide(robo zones, SB incentives), I honestly don't know

2. "Lefty masher". This person could play a number of positions and (un)fortunately there's some flexibility in their defensive home. The important thing is that the offense needs a big anchor(related to the lack of starpower), and they are in desperate need for left handed production from outside the org. This could come from a deadline return(I mentioned Kirilloff before, but it could be a a power-first prospect that's ready for a shot), an offseason reclamation project, or a bit of a larger investment(Josh Bell?). Unfortunately there are not an abundance of obviously good options here so you kinda have to read between the lines and be more hopeful for unexpectedly positive outcomes.

I had Bell being the target instead of Mancini in my original post. Then I looked at his stats for this season and figured he's probably going to get overpaid by some team thinking this is the new normal for him. I agree I'd prioritize a left-handed hitter, but just grabbed the first name that represented an easy upgrade, but would come pretty cheap.

My lowkey favorite option for #2 on your list is Schwarber. If Philly decides that their "ignore defense entirely" approach didn't work and looks to re-tool the roster, he should be available for players on the back half of our 40 man crunch. Unfortunately, if Dombrowski is still in charge this winter, I don't think that'll happen.

My *hope* is that Mervis continues to really force the issue for the rest of the summer. First base is just sitting there waiting to be claimed. It's really hard to have a winning team with negative offensive contributions from 1B.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Tryptamine » Tue Jul 05, 2022 2:23 pm

If they seriously want to win as soon as 2023, they need to prioritize Musgrove in free agency and snag Pablo Lopez from Miami in a trade. There's no real star power in that starting 5 but I think Musgrove/Lopez/Hendricks/Stroman/Steele/Thompson has fantastic depth and would make for a really good regular season rotation. In the post season it's pretty lackluster, but who knows.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby CubinNY » Tue Jul 05, 2022 2:49 pm

Relative to the division they aren't that far away. If the hitters in the minors keep developing and Jenson and Kilian can progress to the point of being able to throw strikes consistently, they should be in great shape for the division as soon as next year with modest spending in FA. But this collection of players isn't winning a WS without getting/developing a star. If they trade Willson, they are just digging a deeper hole for themselves.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby jersey cubs fan » Tue Jul 05, 2022 3:07 pm

Tim wrote:
Transmogrified Tiger wrote:I've been dreaming up different deadline/offseason combinations recently, and I think depending on a few factors next year could be reminiscent of 2015, or a hybrid of 2014-2015. There's two spots that stick out to me that could be really important in which of those two outcomes are more possible.

1. Catcher. Willson is the obvious big decision here, but even if you consider him gone it's a position with a lot of potential outcomes. They could let Gomes soak up most of the playing time while a prospect(deadline return? Amaya?) gets ready, they could sign a starter for non-trivial money like Narvaez, they could do a low cost partner(maybe Barnhart?) to suffice while the position sorts itself out league-wide(robo zones, SB incentives), I honestly don't know

2. "Lefty masher". This person could play a number of positions and (un)fortunately there's some flexibility in their defensive home. The important thing is that the offense needs a big anchor(related to the lack of starpower), and they are in desperate need for left handed production from outside the org. This could come from a deadline return(I mentioned Kirilloff before, but it could be a a power-first prospect that's ready for a shot), an offseason reclamation project, or a bit of a larger investment(Josh Bell?). Unfortunately there are not an abundance of obviously good options here so you kinda have to read between the lines and be more hopeful for unexpectedly positive outcomes.

I had Bell being the target instead of Mancini in my original post. Then I looked at his stats for this season and figured he's probably going to get overpaid by some team thinking this is the new normal for him. I agree I'd prioritize a left-handed hitter, but just grabbed the first name that represented an easy upgrade, but would come pretty cheap.

My lowkey favorite option for #2 on your list is Schwarber. If Philly decides that their "ignore defense entirely" approach didn't work and looks to re-tool the roster, he should be available for players on the back half of our 40 man crunch. Unfortunately, if Dombrowski is still in charge this winter, I don't think that'll happen.

My *hope* is that Mervis continues to really force the issue for the rest of the summer. First base is just sitting there waiting to be claimed. It's really hard to have a winning team with negative offensive contributions from 1B.

Debrincat for Schwarber and a 1st.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Tim » Tue Jul 05, 2022 3:28 pm

CubinNY wrote:Relative to the division they aren't that far away. If the hitters in the minors keep developing and Jenson and Kilian can progress to the point of being able to throw strikes consistently, they should be in great shape for the division as soon as next year with modest spending in FA. But this collection of players isn't winning a WS without getting/developing a star. If they trade Willson, they are just digging a deeper hole for themselves.

That was kind of the point of the original post
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Tim » Tue Jul 05, 2022 3:31 pm

jersey cubs fan wrote:
Tim wrote:
Transmogrified Tiger wrote:I've been dreaming up different deadline/offseason combinations recently, and I think depending on a few factors next year could be reminiscent of 2015, or a hybrid of 2014-2015. There's two spots that stick out to me that could be really important in which of those two outcomes are more possible.

1. Catcher. Willson is the obvious big decision here, but even if you consider him gone it's a position with a lot of potential outcomes. They could let Gomes soak up most of the playing time while a prospect(deadline return? Amaya?) gets ready, they could sign a starter for non-trivial money like Narvaez, they could do a low cost partner(maybe Barnhart?) to suffice while the position sorts itself out league-wide(robo zones, SB incentives), I honestly don't know

2. "Lefty masher". This person could play a number of positions and (un)fortunately there's some flexibility in their defensive home. The important thing is that the offense needs a big anchor(related to the lack of starpower), and they are in desperate need for left handed production from outside the org. This could come from a deadline return(I mentioned Kirilloff before, but it could be a a power-first prospect that's ready for a shot), an offseason reclamation project, or a bit of a larger investment(Josh Bell?). Unfortunately there are not an abundance of obviously good options here so you kinda have to read between the lines and be more hopeful for unexpectedly positive outcomes.

I had Bell being the target instead of Mancini in my original post. Then I looked at his stats for this season and figured he's probably going to get overpaid by some team thinking this is the new normal for him. I agree I'd prioritize a left-handed hitter, but just grabbed the first name that represented an easy upgrade, but would come pretty cheap.

My lowkey favorite option for #2 on your list is Schwarber. If Philly decides that their "ignore defense entirely" approach didn't work and looks to re-tool the roster, he should be available for players on the back half of our 40 man crunch. Unfortunately, if Dombrowski is still in charge this winter, I don't think that'll happen.

My *hope* is that Mervis continues to really force the issue for the rest of the summer. First base is just sitting there waiting to be claimed. It's really hard to have a winning team with negative offensive contributions from 1B.

Debrincat for Schwarber and a 1st.

They really need to add an NHL-ready prospect for that to work given the age & contract differences.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Backtobanks » Tue Jul 05, 2022 4:22 pm

Tim wrote:
Backtobanks wrote:Any trades made this season (and offseason) have to prioritize receiving pitching in return. It's more fun dreaming about signing (or receiving) offensive players, but pitching is the key to a playoff spot.

If you're talking about us trading prospects for pitchers, then there's a problem. The issue is the willingness of other teams to part with the players. How often have you seen any good, established, pre-arbitration pitchers being traded for prospects? I'm sure there's been some, but I can't think of any right now.

If you're suggesting that the Cubs should prioritize getting MLB-ready (or established) pitching in return for Willson, Robertson, etc., then I somewhat agree. I'm hoping for the maximum amount of talent in return. I'd prefer for that talent to be on the pitching side, if possible.


That is what I was talking about, since Contreras and Robertson seem sure to be traded. Names like Matt Allen (Mets), Hunter Brown (Astros), Medina, Gil, and Waldichuk (Yankees), Paddack (Twins), and Snell, Lamet, and Weathers (Padres) have all been kicked around as being available in the right deal.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Bertz » Tue Jul 05, 2022 8:19 pm

The last month or so have really helped show the contours of what a competitive 2023 team could look like.

Pitching wise it's looking increasingly likely that we can count on getting two legit MLB starters out of Steele/Thompson/Kilian. I'm not worried about Stroman (his peripherals are good and guys don't just suddenly become FIP laggards in their 30's). and there should be enough minor league depth (plus Alzolay in the pen) that you don't need to worry about bringing in veteran pure depth types. So unless a Hendricks trade really does happen, the team likely only needs one more starter. It should be a notable one, but just one.

The lineup is somewhat similar. Happ/Hoerner/Seiya all project at more than 3 WAR on a full season basis moving forward. Wisdom is another quality piece now at about 2.5. There's good complimentary guys like Gomes and Ortega (and probably Velazquez). If Morel keeps doing what he's been doing and/or Madrigal rights the ship, the lineup looks fairly solid heading into the winter.

The farm is pretty stacked. There's four guys who will be consensus top 100 types (Davis, PCA, Alcantara, whoever they take at 7) and another 4-5 who likely end up getting some love from an outlet or two (Caissie, Herz, Triantos, Hernandez, potentially the returns for Willson and/or Robertson). That's in addition to the enviable depth that was already in place coming into the year. Aside from Brennen, the tippy top guys won't be a huge factor next year, but there's a lot of closer proximity depth to back up the big league club next season. And before that Jed should have the ability to fill at least one hole via trade without kneecapping the farm.

It's hard to get too attached to specific names with so many things still up in the air, but broadly I'd like to see at least one guy brought in this trade deadline who looks like a good bet to contribute next year (think Kilian last year), and then something like Correa/Gallo/Brady Singer over the winter. The lack of top-end stars likely keeps the ceiling for the team as a 3 seed, but increasingly it doesn't look like too big of a stretch to get there.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby TomtheBombadil » Wed Jul 06, 2022 3:21 am

Early comments:

- Contreras' 150 wRC+ paces the FA class. Top offensive FA target for me
- Carlos Rodon and his 96 MPH fastball are looking worth paying for. Velocity may be overrated in a vacuum but the Cubs are working on 2 full ML seasons as the lowest velo pitching staff in the sport. Much want barring disaster or collapse
- Joey Gallo seems like a really obvious FA target. Cheap LH power, usually a good OF defender, only 29, high ceiling
- Do all this and maybe Correa notices they're not a rebuilding team
- I'd hugely prefer buying low on Brady Singer (for example) than paying a premium for Pablo Lopez (for example)
- Pretty confident Steele can replace Miley, who came in averaging ~100 IP per year since 2017 and 133 IP per season. Big savings here, gj farm
- Trade for a top reliever? If the Royals are selling pitching, Staumont would be fun

Just want to repeat that Carlos Rodon is averaging 96 and dominating. Rodon, Stroman, Steele, Kilian, Hendricks, Thompson seems like a good start on a championship caliber staff
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Derwood » Wed Jul 06, 2022 3:32 pm

Joey Gallo will be 29 next year and has amassed 14.2 fWAR in 8+ seasons. And he’s god awful this year.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Transmogrified Tiger » Wed Jul 06, 2022 3:36 pm

Derwood wrote:Joey Gallo will be 29 next year and has amassed 14.2 fWAR in 8+ seasons. And he’s god awful this year.


Said another way, Gallo is the rare free agent who will be under 30, has averaged 3.8 fWAR per 150 games over his previous 5 seasons, and may not command a huge deal because he struggled this year.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Cubswin11 » Wed Jul 06, 2022 3:47 pm

Yeah I’ve never been a big Gallo fan but he could be cheap and is still young and his power/profile would help the offense and diversify it.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby champaignchris » Wed Jul 06, 2022 4:41 pm

Hendricks to the IL. No corresponding move announced. So it could be that Smyly or Stroman is brought off the IL, but at least for the next hour or two Stroman, Hendricks, Smyly, Miley, Mills and Alzolay are all on the IL.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby We Got The Whole 9 » Wed Jul 06, 2022 4:45 pm

Would definitely prefer Conforto, given he's feeling strong. Gallo's valleys are quite low. There is a 17% difference in their career contact rates and I cant ignore that. We certainly need good LHB though. I was wondering, are there guys out there that may be on the outs with their organization but still have multiple years of control and the pedigree to take a chance on? Similar to how the Brewers grabbed Telez but maybe not so fat and otherwise useless? Like, Kelenic comes to mind. His issues with non-fastballs worry me but he laid waste to MiLB pitching and it could come together for him one day.

Hoping Mervis gets a look after the deadline and honestly locks down the job to begin 2023. Why not. He looks like a potential starter.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby muntjack » Wed Jul 06, 2022 4:53 pm

Kyle Schwarber is on pace for 50 HR. You guys remember when the Cubs non-tendered him? That was a bad decision.

I would love to see the Cubs get pieces for Robertson, Effross, etc., keep Happ, extend Willson, and use guys from the coming 40 man crunch to actually buy at the deadline.

I also think the team isn't far away, and one big bat makes the offense pretty formidable, imo.

Obviously need an Ace, and that could be addressed in the offseason.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Transmogrified Tiger » Wed Jul 06, 2022 4:54 pm

We Got The Whole 9 wrote:Would definitely prefer Conforto, given he's feeling strong. Gallo's valleys are quite low. There is a 17% difference in their career contact rates and I cant ignore that. We certainly need good LHB though. I was wondering, are there guys out there that may be on the outs with their organization but still have multiple years of control and the pedigree to take a chance on? Similar to how the Brewers grabbed Telez but maybe not so fat and otherwise useless? Like, Kelenic comes to mind. His issues with non-fastballs worry me but he laid waste to MiLB pitching and it could come together for him one day.

Hoping Mervis gets a look after the deadline and honestly locks down the job to begin 2023. Why not. He looks like a potential starter.


I was chatting with a buddy that's a Twins fan this morning and he thought that Larnach might available in a deadline deal. He's currently hurt and may be out of favor with Kirilloff, Miranda, Celestino, and Arraez taking PA where he would get them.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Bertz » Wed Jul 06, 2022 5:04 pm

For me, I like Gallo because:

1. He seems like he's just one of those guys who can't cut it in New York, and will go back to being really good as soon as he leaves. There's a long line of these guys, with Sonny Gray I think being the most recent example

2. Because he's had a rough year, he's likely to take a pillow contract, something like 1/20 or 1/25

3. He can play any of the three OF positions or 1B. Combine that with the positional versatility of Hoerner, Morel, and Wisdom, and you can basically shuffle the lineup around to account for any injury or loss of production outside of catcher

I don't love having another 35+% strikeout guy in a lineup that already has Wisdom, but Gallo + one of the shortstops IMO is the most obvious path forward on the position player side
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Cubswin11 » Wed Jul 06, 2022 5:56 pm

We Got The Whole 9 wrote:Would definitely prefer Conforto, given he's feeling strong. Gallo's valleys are quite low. There is a 17% difference in their career contact rates and I cant ignore that. We certainly need good LHB though. I was wondering, are there guys out there that may be on the outs with their organization but still have multiple years of control and the pedigree to take a chance on? Similar to how the Brewers grabbed Telez but maybe not so fat and otherwise useless? Like, Kelenic comes to mind. His issues with non-fastballs worry me but he laid waste to MiLB pitching and it could come together for him one day.

Hoping Mervis gets a look after the deadline and honestly locks down the job to begin 2023. Why not. He looks like a potential starter.

I’m definitely in on offering Conforto a deal after the draft here. Just sign him up now for the Schwarber contract +/-.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Backtobanks » Wed Jul 06, 2022 6:04 pm

A really cheap, change of scenery, LH power bat could be Dom Smith. He's basically mentioned as a throw in on any deal with the Mets involved.
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Re: Winning in 2023

Postby Ding Dong Johnson » Wed Jul 06, 2022 6:04 pm

Transmogrified Tiger wrote:
Derwood wrote:Joey Gallo will be 29 next year and has amassed 14.2 fWAR in 8+ seasons. And he’s god awful this year.


Said another way, Gallo is the rare free agent who will be under 30, has averaged 3.8 fWAR per 150 games over his previous 5 seasons, and may not command a huge deal because he struggled this year.

I like Derwood's description better.
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Re: RE: Re: Winning in 2023

Postby We Got The Whole 9 » Wed Jul 06, 2022 6:17 pm

Cubswin11 wrote:
We Got The Whole 9 wrote:Would definitely prefer Conforto, given he's feeling strong. Gallo's valleys are quite low. There is a 17% difference in their career contact rates and I cant ignore that. We certainly need good LHB though. I was wondering, are there guys out there that may be on the outs with their organization but still have multiple years of control and the pedigree to take a chance on? Similar to how the Brewers grabbed Telez but maybe not so fat and otherwise useless? Like, Kelenic comes to mind. His issues with non-fastballs worry me but he laid waste to MiLB pitching and it could come together for him one day.

Hoping Mervis gets a look after the deadline and honestly locks down the job to begin 2023. Why not. He looks like a potential starter.

I’m definitely in on offering Conforto a deal after the draft here. Just sign him up now for the Schwarber contract +/-.
That would be insane to me. Schwarber wasn't coming off of shoulder surgery.
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