Perhaps in 2023, the Chicago Cubs will return to the postseason for the first time since the abbreviated 2020 season.
In the meantime, 12 other teams will begin vying for this year’s World Series championship later today, with four wild card series beginning, all best-of-three.
Yesterday, Sara Sanchez wrote about the four MLB Wild Card Series and who you should root for as a Cubs fan. Today, let me tell you about all the former Cubs who will be participating in this October’s tournament. NOTE! This list is limited to players who actually played in the major leagues with the Cubs. Thus players such as Gleyber Torres and Daniel Vogelbach, players on postseason teams who were in the Cubs farm system, are not included. But overall, 22 players who once wore the blue pinstripes of the Cubs will participate in this year’s postseason.
Players listed are those who were on active rosters at the end of the regular season. There could be some changes before the postseason begins this afternoon.
You might have missed Maldonado’s Cubs career. He was acquired from the Royals for Mike Montgomery July 15, 2019, and played in just four games with the Cubs, during which he went 0-for-11. On July 31, 2019 Maldonado was traded to the Astros for Tony Kemp. Kemp was eventually traded to the A’s for Alfonso Rivas.
New York Yankees
Aroldis Chapman, Scott Effross, DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo
I don’t think any further introduction is needed for those four players.
More than 40 years ago, Ron Berler wrote about the “Ex-Cub Factor,” an article that posited that any team that got to the World Series with three or more former Cubs players could not win. This proved to be true from the Cubs’ WS appearance in 1945 until the 2001 Diamondbacks won with four former Cubs on the roster (Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez, Mike Morgan and Miguel Batista)... with one notable exception:
The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, who beat the Yankees in the World Series despite the handicap of three ex-Cubs, Smokey Burgess, Gene Baker, Don Hoak.
It seems an inexplicable occurrence, but [Jim] Brosnan, a pitcher for the doomed 1961 Reds (who had ex-Cubs Brosnan, Bill Henry and Dick Gernert) has offered the most plausible explanation:
“Don Hoak played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a very good team, before he was traded to the Cubs, a very bad one,” remembers Brosnan from his home in suburban Chicago. “It was hard for Hoak to relate. As far as he was concerned, he went right from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh without ever stopping in Chicago.
“He refused to accept that he was a Cub. He had nothing but obscene words for the Cubs and their organization; he even hated (former club owner) P.K. Wrigley.
“Hoak,” he concludes, “is quite possibly the only man who ever conquered his Cubness.”
Berler, of course, was writing tongue-in-cheek, and now that the Cubs have actually won the World Series, this is just a humorous part of baseball history.
The Guardians have no former Cubs on their roster.
Toronto Blue Jays
Anthony Bass, David Phelps
Both of these men have been useful middle relievers for the Jays.
No ex-Cubs are on the Mariners. The Mariners, though do have three guys who used to torment the Cubs as members of the Reds: Luis Castillo, Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker. Winker won’t play for a while, though, as he was placed on the IL Wednesday with a neck issue.
Tampa Bay Rays
Jason Adam, Brooks Raley
Raley was the Cubs’ sixth-round pick in 2009. He pitched two years for the Cubs (2013-14), then spent five years in Korea’s KBO major league, returning to the majors with the Reds in 2020. He pitched for Houston last year and did quite well for them in the ALCS and World Series, then signed with the Rays as a free agent before the 2022 season.
The Cubs should have kept Adam; he’s had a really good year for the Rays and was not expensive.
Harold Ramirez was briefly on the Cubs’ 40-man roster this past offseason, eventually traded to Tampa Bay for Esteban Quiroz.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Craig Kimbrel, Chris Martin, Trayce Thompson
Kimbrel was demoted from the closer role recently; it’ll be interesting to see how he’s used in the postseason. Martin was traded to L.A. at this year’s deadline for Zach McKinstry. The Cubs probably should have held on to Thompson, who’s had a 2.2 bWAR year for the Dodgers with 13 home runs in 74 games and batted .268/.364/.537. He’d have looked a lot better in the Cubs outfield than, say, Rafael Ortega.
New York Mets
Terrance Gore, Tommy Hunter, Trevor Williams
Williams has had a decent year with the Mets as a long reliever/spot starter. And yes, Terrance Gore is back to produce havoc on the basepaths during the postseason. Hint to Mets: Don’t give him any at-bats.
Per Matt Monagan of MLB.com, Chavez is the most-traded player in MLB history, having been dealt 10 different times. The Cubs signed him as a free agent before this year, then traded him to Atlanta for Sean Newcomb. The Braves traded him to the Angels at this year’s deadline for Raisel Iglesias. The Angels released him three weeks later and Atlanta signed him back. Now he’s got a chance for a second World Series ring in as many years.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals picked up Q at this year’s deadline and he made 12 really good starts for them (2.01 ERA, 1.117 WHIP). He’ll get the honor of starting Game 1 of the Wild Card Series against the Phillies later today.
San Diego Padres
Yu Darvish, Pierce Johnson
Darvish, you know well, and he’s put together another fine year in San Diego. He will also start Game 1 of the Padres’ Wild Card Series against the Mets.
Johnson, who was the Cubs’ second-round pick in 2012, was one of the one-game Cubs I wrote about in December 2019. Here’s what happened in his one Cubs appearance in 2017:
His MLB debut was May 19, 2017 against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, a miserable, cold, rainy afternoon. (You might remember the next day was when the Cubs postponed a game and then it stopped raining, leading to endless whining from the Brewers, particularly manager Craig Counsell.) Johnson entered to throw the sixth inning and allowed a single to Eric Thames. Then this ridiculous play happened [VIDEO].
Pretty memorable — at least for me, anyway.
Nick Castellanos, David Robertson, Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber had a fine year in which he led the NL in home runs with 46, a career high. He is the second player in MLB history to have at least 46 home runs in a season with fewer than 100 RBI — he finished with 94. The other is another former Cub, Alfonso Soriano, who had 46 HR and 95 RBI for the Nationals in 2006. Schwarber also led the major leagues in strikeouts, with a career-high 200.
Castellanos was injured for some of this year and didn’t perform up to Philly’s expectations.
The Cubs traded Robertson to Philadelphia for minor leaguer Ben Brown at the deadline. He’s posted six saves (with three blown saves!) for the Phillies, and will go into the record books as the Cubs’ leader in saves for 2022, with 14. Since the save became an official stat in 1969, only five other pitchers have led the Cubs with 14 saves or fewer in a full 162-game season (Kimbrel, 13 in 2019, Terry Adams, 13 in 1999, Goose Gossage, 13 in 1988, Oscar Zamora, 10 in 1974 and Phil Regan, 12 in 1970).
A Wild Card Series game thread for the day games will be posted at 10 a.m. CT, and also at 6 p.m. CT for the night game.