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SB Nation Offseason Simulation: The fake 2022 Cubs

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All the SB Nation sites got together for some simulated wheeling and dealing.

Corey Kluber, part of the fake 2022 Cubs
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Each November, the SB Nation sites get together and fly through the entire baseball offseason in two days with our annual offseason simulation. What follows is an annotated summary of deals, signings, and discussions. Enjoy!

In prior years, the simulation goals have been easy: supplement the roster to win the World Series and try to stay under the salary cap luxury tax limit while doing so. But this year? This year is different.

  • Shed Salary. This isn’t my goal... but I’m sure that the Ricketts family have some thoughts on payroll that they’d like to share. After fielding Opening Day payrolls of at least $170 million each year from 2016-20, payroll dropped significantly to just under $150 million in 2021. Will it drop further? I’m not sure, but I’m confident that ownership would like to see a lower figure. I do know that phrases like “we plan to be really active in free agency” and “we have money to spend this winter. But it’s really important that we do that in an intelligent way” sure seem to suggest that the Cubs won’t be swimming in the deep end.
  • Consider Blowing It Up the Rest of the Way. Jason Heyward can’t move due to his no-trade clause (although some teams did express interest in trading for J-Hey and bags of cash). But everyone left — everyone — was on the table. Yes, that included Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks, Ian Happ, and every other non-star on the roster.
  • Find Real, Actual Starting Pitchers. You may have noticed that the Cubs lack for starting pitchers and starting pitching prospects. That’s not a recipe for success.
  • Capitalize on 2020’s Second Half Stars. Rafael Ortega, Patrick Wisdom, and Frank Schwindel all exploded out of nowhere last year as old minor league free agents. If they end up with a meaningful market, they should be traded.
  • Tank. Tanking is bad for sports. But if the Cubs have a mediocre farm system with little in the way of MLB-ready talent (check), are unwilling to spend close to the tax line every year (check), are likely going to stink next year (check), and MLB continues to reward bad teams with high draft picks (presumably check, pending the new collective bargaining agreement), the Cubs should try for #1. This means that efforts should be focused on building the best team possible in 2024 onward while being terrible in 2022 in a way that fuels the 2022 roster.

Before we begin, three important disclaimers. First, we assumed that the current CBA continued. This almost surely won’t happen but we needed some certainty. Second, I spent dozens of hours digging into the farm systems of all 30 teams, developing a list of my 100 or so favorite targets, many of whom aren’t yet ranked in the top-100, so my prospect knowledge is at a 12-month high right now. Third, we rewind the to the end of the regular season for the Sim. That means no Wade Miley.

With that, away we go!


The Simulation began with me feeling out the market for the likes of Ortega, Wisdom, and Schwindel. Spoiler alert: Absolutely nobody believes that their 2020 performances are repeatable. I would’ve loved to flip any of them — especially Ortega and Wisdom — for just about anything of value, but I couldn’t even get that kind of offer.

With that beginning, I pivoted to part one of my plan: buy some prospects by taking on dead weight. And this led to my favorite single deal being consummated quickly:

Cubs trade RHP Jose Miguel Gonzalez to Yankees for RP Zack Britton, SS Alexander Vargas, C Antonio Gomez, OF Fidel Montero, and $500,000 in International Free Agent Bonus Space

If the Cubs make only one move this offseason, this should be the one. The Yankees are overwhelmingly likely to be taxpayers this upcoming season. Britton underwent Tommy John surgery in September, so he’s overwhelmingly unlikely to pitch in 2022. So why did I trade for him? Easy: doing so enabled the Cubs to buy $15 million worth of prospects. I liked Vargas and he comes with a top pedigree, ranked 67th on the Fangraphs prospects list. But I really liked Gomez. He has a long path ahead of him, but he looks like a real starting catcher...in a few years. He ranked 133rd among prospects, just behind Cubs prospects Cristian Hernandez, Ed Howard, and Brailyn Marquez. Montero is a recent IFA.

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade RHP Jose Miguel Gonzalez to Yankees for RP Zack Britton, SS Alexander Vargas, C Antonio Gomez, OF Fidel Montero, and $500,000 in International Free Agent Bonus Space

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    A
    (82 votes)
  • 31%
    B
    (94 votes)
  • 21%
    C
    (64 votes)
  • 6%
    C
    (20 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (36 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now

With that deal secured, I shifted my discussions to gauging the market on the Cubs’ upcoming free agents/veterans with salaries above the minimum. As with prior years, the markets for Kyle Hendricks and Ian Happ were robust. Surprisingly, only a few teams were in on Willson Contreras, but the teams with interest really liked him.

As those discussions continued, I focused my efforts on finding pitchers with high ceilings who, if things work out, could be flipped in July for a tasty prospect package. This led me to a familiar face and a whole bunch of other arms.

Cubs sign SP Chris Archer to a 1-year, $2 million deal with a $9 million club option for 2023

Will this work out? I don’t know. But Archer has had time to get healthy, so there may be a good starter in there somewhere. For $2 million, it’s a worthwhile risk.

If he’s healthy. Get used to that.

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign SP Chris Archer to a 1-year, $2 million deal with a $9 million club option for 2023

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    A
    (97 votes)
  • 25%
    B
    (81 votes)
  • 20%
    C
    (64 votes)
  • 10%
    D
    (32 votes)
  • 13%
    F
    (44 votes)
318 votes total Vote Now

Cubs sign RP Chris Martin to a 2-year, $8 million deal

I really like Martin. His market didn’t develop as much as expected, and I was very happy to add him as a closer candidate. This one was an easy choice.

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign RP Chris Martin to a 2-year, $8 million deal

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    A
    (60 votes)
  • 38%
    B
    (99 votes)
  • 29%
    C
    (75 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (13 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (10 votes)
257 votes total Vote Now

Cubs sign RP Jonathan Holder and RP Cam Bedrosian to minor league deals

Holder spent all of 2021 injured for the Cubs. He has already been outrighted in real life, and he’ll probably need to settle for a minor league deal in real life too. I’ve long liked Bedrosian, though he may be washed up.

Poll

Grade these signings: Cubs sign RP Jonathan Holder and RP Cam Bedrosian to minor league deals

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    A
    (26 votes)
  • 19%
    B
    (44 votes)
  • 35%
    C
    (79 votes)
  • 21%
    D
    (48 votes)
  • 11%
    F
    (25 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now

Cubs sign SP Corey Kluber to a 1-year, $6.5 million deal with a $10 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout

Oh hell yeah. Kluber isn’t the ace that he used to be, and injuries cost him almost all of 2020 while limiting him to 80 innings in 2021. But the innings were 80 good innings (3.83 ERA/3.84 FIP), and his cutter, changeup, and slider all look strong. If he’s healthy in 2022, he’s a borderline ace.

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign SP Corey Kluber to a 1-year, $6.5 million deal with a $10 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    A
    (120 votes)
  • 32%
    B
    (94 votes)
  • 16%
    C
    (47 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (13 votes)
285 votes total Vote Now

Cubs sign RP Alex Colome to a 2-year, $5 million deal

Colome couldn’t hold a closer job in 2021 and posted the worst FIP of his career. But that terrible FIP was 4.23 and his relatively poor results were largely fueled by a putrid, career-worst 64.4% strand rate. If Colome returns to his 75% career norm, he’s looking at an ERA in the low-3s and he’s extremely tradeable.

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign RP Alex Colome to a 2-year, $5 million deal

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    A
    (44 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (63 votes)
  • 31%
    C
    (71 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (29 votes)
  • 8%
    F
    (18 votes)
225 votes total Vote Now

Cubs sign RP Noe Ramirez to a 1-year, $800,000 deal

Another competent reliever.

The pitching was filling in nicely.

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign RP Noe Ramirez to a 1-year, $800,000 deal

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    A
    (28 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (56 votes)
  • 46%
    C
    (93 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (13 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (9 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now

As free agency kicked into high gear, I kept my finger on the pulse of the big names. Carlos Correa. Corey Seager. Kris Bryant. Javier Baez. Anthony Rizzo. Andrew Chafin. :)

I expected those markets to quickly fly past my comfort zone, but that didn’t happen. I wanted to avoid free agents who had declined a Qualifying Offer, and I bowed out on Correa at $289 million over nine years; he ended up with $375 million over 10 years, which feels about right to me. I fell aside on Seager earlier before he landed at $355 million over 10 years. More on the others below.

I continued feeling out the market for teams needing to dump big-time salaries with a few top targets: Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Madison Bumgarner, Mike Moustakas, Charlie Blackmon, Jackie Bradley Jr., James McCann, Scott Kingery, Evan White, Randal Grichuk, Patrick Corbin, etc. I expected that the bad money on the Padres, Reds, Blue Jays, Phillies, Brewers, and Mets payrolls would be the most easily traded. That held true for some but not all. There were some baffling deals where other clubs ate the bad contracts, but I had my chances.

This led to prolonged, detailed discussions with Cincinnati. And after discussing Moustakas to a significant degree, we settled on a spectacular deal for the Cubs:

Cubs trade RP Austin Krzeminski to Reds for OF Shogo Akiyama and SS Elly De La Cruz

Krzeminski is a 26-year-old reliever at Myrtle Beach. Akiyama was a flop signing by the Reds and has one year at $8 million left on his deal. De La Cruz? Holy smokes. Imagine if Junior Lake was a switch hitter with a good hit tool who didn’t strike out a ton and had even more power with plus-plus speed...and just posted a .296/.336/.538 as a 19-year-old primarily in full-season ball. Yum. De La Cruz ranked 73rd on the Fangraphs list.

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade RP Austin Krzeminski to Reds for OF Shogo Akiyama and SS Elly De La Cruz

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    A
    (95 votes)
  • 33%
    B
    (74 votes)
  • 13%
    C
    (30 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (13 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (11 votes)
223 votes total Vote Now

Very excited by this acquisition, I shifted back to buying pitchers:

Cubs sign SP James Paxton to a 1-year, $4 million deal with a $10 million vesting option

Paxton had Tommy John surgery in 2021, but he had the good sense to do so in April. He should be able to pitch early in the 2022 season... if he’s healthy. Paxton has been almost permanently injured for the last two years, but he was a true ace for four years before that. Perfect lottery ticket.

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign SP James Paxton to a 1-year, $4 million deal with a $10 million vesting option

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    A
    (74 votes)
  • 27%
    B
    (59 votes)
  • 25%
    C
    (54 votes)
  • 7%
    D
    (15 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (9 votes)
211 votes total Vote Now

Around this time, I got outbid for Bryant and Baez. I went to $200 million over seven years for Bryant who ended up signing with the Angels for $210 million over six years. Good for him. With Javy, I started at $80 million over five years and got to $100 million over six years; he ended up signing for $126 million over seven years to stay with the Mets, declining a four-year, $100 million offer from an unnamed squad.

When my key free agents went elsewhere, I pivoted into full tank mode, continuing to gauge the interest in Happ, Hendricks, and Contreras and nearing a few deals that ultimately didn’t quite come together. I did, however, find two more relievers:

Cubs sign RP Kenley Jansen to a 2-year, $21 million deal

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign RP Kenley Jansen to a 2-year, $21 million deal

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    A
    (53 votes)
  • 29%
    B
    (68 votes)
  • 18%
    C
    (43 votes)
  • 14%
    D
    (34 votes)
  • 15%
    F
    (35 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now

Cubs sign RP Brad Hand to a 1-year, $3.5 million deal with a $5 million club option for 2023 with a $500,000 buyout

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign RP Brad Hand to a 1-year, $3.5 million deal with a $5 million club option for 2023 with a $500,000 buyout

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    A
    (55 votes)
  • 39%
    B
    (82 votes)
  • 19%
    C
    (40 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (19 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (11 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now

My pitching staff will lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series. Again. There are still promising signs for both of those guys and relievers bring back outsized returns at the trade deadline as the Cubs experienced with the July 2021 trades of Craig Kimbrel (Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer) and Ryan Tepera (2020 fifth-round-pick Bailey Horn).


Every Simulation has a deal or two where you scratch your head. Here’s that deal:

Cubs trade SS Sergio Alcantara to Dodgers for SP Tony Gonsolin

I don’t get it. The Dodgers GM was eminently prepared to ship out Gonsolin for nothing. I get that he’s injured every year, but he’s also a playoff-caliber starter available for a minimum salary. That’s a seriously fun lottery ticket.

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade SS Sergio Alcantara to Dodgers for SP Tony Gonsolin

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    A
    (141 votes)
  • 22%
    B
    (49 votes)
  • 8%
    C
    (18 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (3 votes)
221 votes total Vote Now

At this point, I went to bed with only one morning left in the Simulation. Having made eight signings and three trades, payroll was hovering around $120 million and the roster had filled out in most areas. I was pretty content with the results.

And then Tuesday morning happened and the Cubs world completely blew up.

Cubs trade OF Ian Happ to Rays for OF Heriberto Hernandez, SS Carlos Colmenarez, SP Nick Bitsko, SP Brent Honeywell, SS Alika Williams, and 1B Ji-Man Choi

Take a deep breath.

Happ is an extremely streaky hitter, but when he’s on, he’s a star bat. Defensively, he’s competent in lots of spots but not great anywhere. Put it all together and you’ve got a nice player. Nice players have no place on my Tankapalooza 2022 Cubs.

Trading Happ brought back so many interesting pieces. Choi was a salary throw-in (more on him below), but the others were enticing. Hernandez is a bat-only prospect who will play left field or first base, so the bat has to carry the profile. His career minor league line? .293/.422/.562. That’ll work. He’s 110th on Fangraphs. Colmenarez is a left-handed Cristian Hernandez: a sweet swinging lefty shortstop with power. He was one of my top-five targets in the Simulation, currently ranking 144th on Fangraphs with the chance to explode. Bitsko was another elite target, the 24th overall pick in the 2020 draft who underwent labrum surgery last December. I saw shades of Lucas Giolito. Brent Honeywell is a true flier, a former top-10 overall prospect who didn’t pitch in 2018...or 2019...or 2020. I told you to say “if he’s healthy” a lot! Finally, Alika Williams was the 37th pick in the 2020 draft, a glove-first shortstop with good wheels who probably won’t hit enough to be a starter, but he hit competently this year, slashing .267/.312/.375 across three levels in his first taste of pro ball.

There’s no superstar headliner here for two years of Happ, but there are so many good pieces.

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade OF Ian Happ to Rays for OF Heriberto Hernandez, SS Carlos Colmenarez, SP Nick Bitsko, SP Brent Honeywell, SS Alika Williams, and 1B Ji-Man Choi

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    A
    (125 votes)
  • 25%
    B
    (62 votes)
  • 11%
    C
    (28 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (14 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (13 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now

The floodgates were now open. And the waters flowed.

Cubs trade C Willson Contreras to Astros for IF Aledmys Diaz, SP Jose Urquidy, SS Jeremy Pena, and $1 million in International Free Agent Bonus Space

I love Willson and hope that the Cubs extend him if they don’t take the mega-tank route. This deal, however, was too good to pass up. Diaz was thrown in to keep the Astros under the tax line. Urquidy was a nice get. He’s basically Caleb Kilian’s best-case scenario with plus command helping a whole bunch of average pitches play up. He may have peaked as a fourth starter, but that’s fine because Pena was the top draw here. Pena ranks 42nd on the Fangraphs list and would become the second-best Cubs prospect behind Brennen Davis. Pena’s glove was never a question after he was drafted 102nd overall in 2018, but his bat has been a pleasant surprise, especially his stunning power development. After a great 2019 split between A and High-A, the Astros sent him to Triple-A in 2021 for his one healthy month and he raked to the tune of a .287/.346/.598 line; even in an offensively inflated environment, his bat impressed. If he settles as a .270/.330/.400 shortstop with a plus glove and plus speed, that’s an extremely valuable player. If there’s more, well, great!

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade C Willson Contreras to Astros for IF Aledmys Diaz, SP Jose Urquidy, SS Jeremy Pena, and $1 million in International Free Agent Bonus Space

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    A
    (95 votes)
  • 30%
    B
    (75 votes)
  • 11%
    C
    (29 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (24 votes)
  • 10%
    F
    (25 votes)
248 votes total Vote Now

At this point, I was just about ready to head into the season with this wildly-improved farm system, slashed payroll, and terrible offense. Then, another great flier fell from the sky:

Cubs sign SP Dylan Bundy to a 1-year, $1 million deal with a $5 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout

There’s an ace buried deep in there somewhere. He was decent from 2016-19, then erupted in 2020 with 2.0 WAR over the shortened season. Then, he flopped in 2021. If he’s healthy in 2022, he’s an excellent lottery ticket.

Poll

Grade this signing: Cubs sign SP Dylan Bundy to a 1-year, $1 million deal with a $5 million club option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    A
    (86 votes)
  • 32%
    B
    (64 votes)
  • 16%
    C
    (32 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (4 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now

As it turns out, I needed Bundy for the rotation:

Cubs trade SP Kyle Hendricks to Giants for CF Luis Matos, SP Will Bednar, SP Manuel Mercedes, and SS Dilan Rosario

I had no real desire to trade Hendricks coming off of the worst season of his career. But at the 11th hour, the Giants emerged and met my hefty asking prize for the Professor. I love Matos. I love Matos. As a 19-year-old in full-season ball, he posted a .313/.358/.494 line with 15 homers, 21 steals, and a miniscule 12.4% strikeout rate. He’s a true five-tool talent that already has advanced discipline at the plate. Matos ranks 83rd on the Fangraphs list. Bednar joined Matos. The 14th overall pick in 2021, I think he’s probably a reliever, but he’s definitely a closer if that’s the case. Mercedes is a 2019 international signing who got a $400,000 bonus thanks to his live arm. And Rosario was the 176th pick in the 2019 draft, a powerful bat with strikeout problems and without a defensive home; you know, a flier. In the end, this is the kind of package I’d hope to get if the Cubs trade Hendricks after he rebounds in the first half in 2022, so going for this package made sense.

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade SP Kyle Hendricks to Giants for CF Luis Matos, SP Will Bednar, SP Manuel Mercedes, and SS Dilan Rosario

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    A
    (82 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (64 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (29 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (21 votes)
  • 14%
    F
    (32 votes)
228 votes total Vote Now

Cubs trade 1B Ji-Man Choi to A’s for RP Jose Dicochea

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade 1B Ji-Man Choi to A’s for RP Jose Dicochea

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    A
    (33 votes)
  • 21%
    B
    (36 votes)
  • 40%
    C
    (67 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (9 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (21 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now

Dicochea is nothing; this was a pure salary dump.

I really didn’t want to enter the spring with P.J. Higgins as my only catcher with MLB experience, so thankfully I filled my last gigantic hole:

Cubs trade RP Riley Thompson to Mariners for C Tom Murphy

Murphy isn’t great and sometimes he’s not even good. But there’s power in his bat and a decent defensive profile. He’s a true fringe starter, and that’s a fine starter for the tanking 2022 Cubs.

Poll

Grade this trade: Cubs trade RP Riley Thompson to Mariners for C Tom Murphy

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    A
    (23 votes)
  • 26%
    B
    (44 votes)
  • 36%
    C
    (60 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (20 votes)
  • 10%
    F
    (18 votes)
165 votes total Vote Now

The resulting roster is bad. The pitching is intriguing because of the sheer volume of possible rehab arms, but the position players will likely be awful. Here’s the compilation:

2B Madrigal
LF Ortega
1B Schwindel
3B Wisdom
C Murphy
RF Heyward
CF Akiyama
SS Hoerner

Bench: Higgins, Bote, Diaz, Greg Deichmann, Michael Hermosillo

SP Kluber
SP Paxton
SP Archer
SP Bundy
SP Urquidy

Bullpen: Jansen, Martin, Hand, Colome, Ramirez, Rowan Wick, Gonsolin, Heuer

And just as important, here are the pitching options in April and then again in August once everyone above is either hurt or traded:

SP Adbert Alzolay
SP Justin Steele
SP Alec Mills
SP Brailyn Marquez
SP Keegan Thompson

Bullpen: Manuel Rodriguez, Michael Rucker, Tommy Nance, Ben Leeper, Cam Bedrosian, Scott Effross, Anderson Espinoza, Cory Abbott, Brad Wieck


Normally I include a salary table, but this year, it’s easier to say the following regarding the 2022 payroll:

  • 12 members of the 26-man roster make the minimum
  • Only five players make more than $4 million guaranteed: Heyward, Britton, Jansen, Akiyama, and Kluber
  • Total payroll of $97.7 million — including the dead money for Britton, Jake Arrieta’s buyout, and Chafin’s buyout paid to Oakland — would be the second-lowest Opening Day number since 2006. If we adjust for inflation, this would be the lowest payroll in generations.

Perhaps more important than the 2022 payroll is how the payrolls in 2023 and 2024 shape up. For 2023, there’s $43 million committed with over half of that to Heyward. Even if every option is exercised, payroll only hits $82 million, so there is tremendous flexibility. For 2024, only David Bote’s $5.5 million and the first of four Heyward $5 million signing bonus payments represent the full obligations.

Simply put: this team is cheap, but when the farm is ready to fuel a winner, there’s going to be north of $100 million and perhaps up to $150 million to support those youngsters.


Finally, the most important update: the farm system.

Entering the Simulation, the Cubs farm had the following players by ranking:

60: 1 (OF Brennen Davis)
55: 0
50: 2 (OF Kevin Alcantara, SS Reginald Preciado)
45+: 3 (SS Cristian Hernandez, SS Ed Howard, SP (L) Marquez)
45: 8 (OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, C Miguel Amaya, SP (L) Jordan Wicks, OF Owen Caissie, 3B Christopher Morel, RP Alexander Vizcaino, OF Cole Roederer, OF Alexander Canario)
40+: 16
40: 14
35+: 15 (this includes Nelson Velazquez, who will surely climb after embarrassing pitchers in the Arizona Fall League)

Players added via the Simulation:

60: 0
55: 0
50: 5 (SS Jeremy Pena, SS Elly De La Cruz, SS Alexander Vargas, CF Luis Matos, LF/1B Heriberto Hernandez)
45+: 2 (SS Carlos Colmenarez, C Antonio Gomez)
45: 1 (SP Nick Bitsko)
40+: 3 (SP Will Bednar, SP Manuel Mercedes, OF Fidel Montero)
40: 2 (SS Alika Williams, SS Dilan Rosario)
35+: 1 (Brent Honeywell)

And there’s an extra $1.5 million to spend on international amateurs. Add in top-10 picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts, and the farm is fully reloaded. For reference, only Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay currently have even seven prospects graded 50 or higher on Fangraphs; the Cubs would arguably have a top-five farm system in all of baseball following this simulated offseason, differentiating themselves from the group of teams listed above (i) by having oodles of tradeable pieces on the 2022 MLB roster, and (ii) given their perch sitting on a mountain of cash. But it’s not just about the top-ranked talent, either. Arizona, the real Cubs, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay tie to lead the Majors with 14 prospects graded 45 or higher apiece. The Simulation Cubs? The Simulation Cubs have 22.

To close this out, here are the top-ranked prospects in the system following this Simulation with the additions in bold:

13: Davis
42: Pena
67: Vargas
73: De La Cruz
83: Matos
109: Alcantara
110: Hernandez (Cristian)
112: Preciado
122: Hernandez (Heriberto)
123: Howard
124: Marquez
133: Gomez
144: Colmenarez

Get ready for a whole bunch of excitement...in 2024 and 2025. But before that, too, as 2022 should bring the arrivals of Davis and Pena while others like De La Cruz, Matos, and even Howard should spend 2022 at High-A with a chance to show up in the Majors by late 2023. The fruits of this exercise will start to arrive before actual waves and waves of talent show up in Chicago, hopefully further supported by a new batch of talent acquired during the great sell-off to come at the 2022 trade deadline.

Waves and waves of talent. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Are you ready for a full-blown tank? I am... if it looks like this.