As we all know, the Cubs have done virtually nothing to change the team this offseason. Free agents have departed, and the only changes are a couple of minor-league signings, a waiver claim or two, and a couple of major/minor league split contract additions.
Today, I thought I’d take a look at the Cubs’ divisional rivals in the National League Central and see what, if anything, they have done to improve themselves. In some cases below, I have omitted players from the “departure” list if they didn’t play in the major leagues at all in 2019.
Departures: Derek Dietrich, Kevin Gausman, Jose Iglesias, Jose Peraza, Alex Wood
Additions: Shogo Akiyama, Travis Jankowski, Wade Miley, Mike Moustakas
A lot of people are picking the Reds to be strong contenders in the division and yes, they were improved in 2019 and played five games worse than their Pythagoran projection, which is often a sign that the team will do better the following year.
They don’t really seem to have changed much, though. Adding Moustakas and Miley will help, no doubt, and historically Miley’s been a better pitcher in the N.L. than in his A.L. tenure.
Departures: Matt Albers, Chase Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal, Trent Grisham, Junior Guerra, Zach Davies, Jordan Lyles, Mike Moustakas, Jimmy Nelson, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Saladino, Travis Shaw, Cory Spangenberg, Eric Thames
Additions: Brett Anderson, Alex Claudio, Avisail Garcia, Ryon Healy, Eric Lauer, Josh Lindblom, Omar Narvaez, Justin Smoak, Eric Sogard, Luis Urias
Not just the uniforms will look different in Miller Park in 2020. That’s 15 players off Milwaukee’s roster from the end of last year, and 10 additions. The losses include two key players from their regular lineup in Grandal and Moustakas, and a useful role player in Thames. Milwaukee’s starting rotation will look very different with the departures of Chase Anderson, Gonzalez and Davies.
They will get help in their rotation from Brett Anderson, who’s been pretty good everywhere except his brief time with the Cubs. And I wish the Cubs had signed Lindblom, just as I wish they had signed Miles Mikolas instead of Tyler Chatwood before 2018.
The Brewers are going to miss Grandal, though they did trade for Narvaez to replace him. The jury’s still out on whether Narvaez can repeat his very good 2019 season at the plate.
Wednesday, they gave manager Craig Counsell a three-year contract extension.
Departures: Dario Agrazal, Melky Cabrera, Elias Diaz, Francisco Liriano
Additions: Socrates Brito, Phillip Evans, Luke Maile, Hector Noesi
Gave up not much and acquired... not much.
St. Louis Cardinals
Departures: Dominic Leone, Mike Mayers, Marcell Ozuna, Zac Rosscup, Chasen Shreve, Michael Wacha, Matt Wieters
Additions: Kwang Hyun Kim
You read that right. You think the Cubs haven’t done anything this offseason? The Cardinals’ sole major-league transaction this offseason was re-signing their own free agent, Adam Wainwright, to a one-year, $5 million contract.
Kim, a 31-year-old lefthander from Korea, was signed to a two-year, $8 million contract. (Note that the baseball-reference link above refers to him as “Gwang Hyun Kim,” but the link above announcing his signing has the Cardinals tweet with his name beginning with “K.”)
So, it’s the Milwaukee Brewers who have seen the most change in the division this offseason. They’ve been quite busy revamping a ballclub that’s seen nearly half of the guys who finished the year on their roster depart.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals (who won the division) and Cubs (who collapsed) both have done almost nothing this winter.
Which approach will work? We’ll see, starting in just a few weeks.