Commentary: Cubs constructed to prevent runs
Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports

Commentary: Cubs constructed to prevent runs


by - Staff Writer -

The Cubs have had a hectic offseason for the first time in years. With an exciting slew of prospects expected to take the next step in 2023, the Cubs also supplemented that by dishing out over 300 million dollars worth of contracts to free agents.

The Cubs signed gold glove award-winning shortstop Dansby Swanson to a seven-year, 177 million dollar deal to be the long-term short stop on the North Side of Chicago. As a result, this move takes Nico Hoerner — who ranked as one of the league’s best defensive shortstops in 2022 — back to second base, where he was a Gold Glove finalist in the past. All of a sudden, the Cubs get upgrades at both shortstop and second base essentially — which puts them at a massive advantage in terms of range and dependability up the middle, especially huge now that the shift is banned in the MLB.

The Cubs didn’t stop there. After letting Willson Contreras (one of the league’s best offensive catchers) walk in free agency, the Cubs supplemented that by signing Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart, to pair him behind the plate with Yan Gomes — two catchers who specialize on the defensive side of the game.

Again, that wasn’t it. The Cubs have been looking for a centerfielder since the newly retired Dexter Fowler left Chicago. While the move comes with some question marks, the Cubs acquired former MVP and gold glove award winner Cody Bellinger to patrol centerfield. While the Cubs have high hopes for prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennan Davis, Alexander Canario, and Kevin Alcantara to make a difference in the outfield in the future, Bellinger will be in Chicago for a season, with an option for a second. As it stands right now, the Cubs will have Ian Happ, who won a gold glove award in 2022, in left field, Bellinger in center, and Seiya Suzuki in right, who won multiple golden glove awards back in Japan.

Then, the Cubs signed World Series Champion and gold glove winner Eric Hosmer to play first base. Hosmer isn’t the player he once was on either side of the ball — but he is undoubtedly an upgrade defensively and in the locker room to the likes of Alfonso Rivas, Frank Schwindel, and Patrick Wisdom.

The Cubs also signed Trey Mancini to a multi-year deal. Despite being known for his offense, Mancini plays above-average defense at both corner outfield positions and at first base if needed.

The Cubs made a big splash on the pitching side by acquiring Jameson Taillon for a four-year contract. Plus, the Cubs signed Drew Smyly, Brad Boxberger, and Michael Fulmer to complete the starting rotation and add significant depth to the bullpen.

The Cubs are constructed in a particular way, with contact-oriented hitters and defensive-minded fielders — paired with a starting rotation and bullpen specializing in inducing weak contact. One thing is for sure: the Cubs are constructed to prevent runs.

The idea of preventing runs seems to be why the Cubs let Contreras go; it seems to be why they are filling each position with gold glove award winners. It seems to be why the Cubs' offense is going away from high strikeout / high home run players.

With the MLB emphasizing balls in play, stolen bases, and pace of play — the Cubs have constructed their roster with players whose strengths are built upon balls in play, speed, range, athleticism, and leadership, a potent mix for a game that appears to be evolving in the Cubs favor.

This team is built to take away base hits, keep runs off the board and put stress on opposing pitching staffs — a recipe that should especially bode well with the way the MLB is trending.

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