As some of you might recall, I did this last year. Not one of my five bold Cubs predictions for 2018 came true. But then, that’s why they’re bold! Anyone can make obvious predictions for the coming baseball season. I mean, I could say: Anthony Rizzo is going to hit 30 home runs, drive in 100 runs and post an OPS around .900 and... well, because that’s pretty much what he does every year, that’s not very bold.
Onward to this year’s bold predictions!
The Cubs will not sign Bryce Harper
Maybe this isn’t so bold, even though Gordon Wittenmyer wrote in the Sun-Times that the Cubs supposedly asked Harper to circle back to them before signing with anyone and then there was this tweet last week:
@JonHeyman on MLB TV Weds said that he is leaning toward the Cubs more likey than Dodgers to sign Bryce Harper.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 26, 2018
Which comes down to: a reporter tweeted that another reporter thought Harper would “likely” sign with the Cubs. Which would be pretty much the same as me saying that. It means nothing.
I think Harper winds up in Los Angeles, although there have been recent reports hinting the Nationals’ 10-year, $300 million offer is still on the table. Me saying that doesn’t mean much either, but I don’t think he’ll be a Cub.
Addison Russell will not be a Cub on Opening Day
I wrote in early November and again about two weeks ago that I felt it was time for the Cubs to cut ties with Russell. While the Cubs did tender Russell a contract, meaning they will have to pay him something, amount to be determined, I think the right thing for the team to do is simply to move on. My reasons are detailed in those links. Here is a StoryStream with links to all the articles here about Russell’s suspension.
Yu Darvish will come back from his injury and post a season of 4 bWAR or better
Darvish has had at least 3.5 bWAR in every full season he played, and he posted 2.4 bWAR in 17 starts in 2016. He’s reportedly healthy and ready to go. A season of 4 bWAR from Darvish would go a long way toward solidifying the Cubs’ rotation in 2019. Kyle Hendricks led the Cubs staff with 3.5 bWAR in 2018, and Jon Lester posted 3.4. A third rotation starter doing this or better would be a huge boost.
Willson Contreras will hit 25 home runs with a slash line of .285/.375/.500, will be the starting N.L. All-Star catcher and finish in the top five of MVP voting
Contreras came close to this level of performance in 2017, when he hit 21 home runs and hit .276/.356/.499, despite missing several weeks with a hamstring injury. One of the keys to having Willson accomplish this would be to sign or trade for a veteran backup catcher, to reduce his workload. I’ve suggested trying to trade Tyler Chatwood for Russell Martin, but another possibility would be to sign free agent Martin Maldonado, who is one of the better pitch framers around.
Pedro Strop will do well enough closing games for the Cubs early in the season that Brandon Morrow will be his setup man when he returns
There’s no question Strop can close; he was doing a fine job of it before the hamstring injury ruined the end of his season. Strop will likely begin the year as Cubs closer, and I think he’ll be good enough at it that Morrow can operate as his setup man, as he did for Kenley Jansen for the 2017 Dodgers.
Perhaps you have some bold predictions of your own for 2019. Leave them in the comments.
How many of Al’s bold 2019 predictions will come true?
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