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5 bold Cubs predictions for 2018

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In which I go out on a limb to forecast the upcoming year.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It’s still early enough in 2018 that I can still say Happy New Year. Hope you enjoyed the holiday — now it’s back to work, and with just 52 days until the first Cubs spring training game (vs. the Brewers on February 23 at Maryvale), it’s time to think about things that might happen over the next few weeks, or indeed, throughout the season.

Here are five bold predictions by me for what will happen to the Cubs in 2018.

  • The Cubs will sign Yu Darvish to a four-year, $110 million contract.

I realize that the $27.5 million AAV of that contract would use up pretty much all the room the Cubs have under the luxury tax limit, presuming they want to save $10 million or so for a midseason acquisition. It would mean no more major free-agent bullpen acquisitions. But the addition of Darvish would give the Cubs one of the best rotations in the National League. Perhaps that would take some of the pressure off the bullpen.

  • Kyle Schwarber will hit .285/.385/.545 with 40 home runs and make the National League All-Star team.

Schwarber has been working out all winter to lose some weight and strengthen his body so that he doesn’t get off to a horrendous start like he did in 2017.

After Kyle was recalled from Iowa last July, he hit .255/.338/.565 with 18 home runs in 200 at-bats. If you extrapolate those numbers over a full season, my bold prediction might even be a little bit low.

  • The Cubs will sign Joe Maddon to a two-year contract extension through the 2021 season.

Maddon has already been one of the most successful managers in Cubs history (granted, that’s a fairly low bar, but still). If he wins one more pennant, he’ll tie Charlie Grimm as one of only two managers to win multiple league championships (Frank Chance is the other, with four). Rather than have Maddon go into the last year of his current deal (2019) with questions about whether he’ll continue, I think management will extend him. As of now, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have deals that end after the 2021 season and I think it makes sense for Maddon’s deal to be finished at the same time.

  • Jason Heyward will recover his former offensive level and hit .290/.360/.450 with 18 home runs, making him an offensive force to go along with his great defense.

That would be an .810 OPS. Heyward already has two major-league seasons with an OPS of .810 or higher. Those years (2010 and 2012) are also his top two home-run seasons (14 in 2010, 27 in 2012). Heyward hit 11 home runs in 2017 despite missing 36 games with various injuries. Finally healthy in 2018, he should at last become the player the Cubs were hoping they were getting when they signed him to that eight-year deal.

This isn’t as bold as it might have seemed a couple of years ago, but I couldn’t let an article like this go without forecasting a second World Series championship on the North Side, and another one of these:

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

Do you have some bold predictions? Leave them in the comments.

Poll

How many of Al’s bold predictions will come true in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    5
    (809 votes)
  • 18%
    4
    (761 votes)
  • 28%
    3
    (1192 votes)
  • 17%
    2
    (728 votes)
  • 10%
    1
    (417 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (207 votes)
4114 votes total Vote Now