Cubs
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The Cubs won the NL Central last season and reached the postseason for the fifth time in six years but still did not achieve the goal of winning another World Series.

The early departure from the National League Wild Card Series set the stage for what will be a critical offseason. The Cubs still believe they have the pieces to contend in 2021, but the franchise has to explore change and plan for the future, given the offensive shortcomings and October exits in recent years.

“We have a great team. We have a team that won the division last year,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. “Obviously, the playoffs have not gone as we hoped in two of the last three years. But ultimately, the goal every year is to give ourselves a chance, and that’s not going to change.

“I think in this job, you always have one eye on the present and one eye on the future. I think the truth is that, given [the current situation], that eye might be a little bit more focused towards the future than usual. But that doesn’t take away from the goal. And like I said, the goal is always to make the playoffs and give this organization a chance to go deep in October.”

Starting Pitching

Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks are a strong duo, however, three of the Cubs starters last season are free agents. The team will need to add arms to their starting rotation in the coming months. If the Cubs look internally Alec Mills and Adbert Alzolay are options, but that would mean a 5th starter is needed.

Impact Bat

There are unknowns about the Cubs’ current payroll situation, so this add could be tricky. If the organization plans to add a bat it will have to come via trade. Rumors surrounding the core nucleus – especially Kris Bryant – come into play. After multiple seasons of disappointing team-wide offense, though, the Cubs are searching for a way to alter the lineup’s look.

Bullpen

The Cubs consistently find cost-effective ways to manage the bullpen either through trade or reclamation of free agents. Last year the Cubs signed Jeremy Jeffress to a one-year deal that turned out to be a stabilizing force for the relief corps. But he is now a free agent. There are openings in the bullpen and, while the Cubs do have internal options, expect the team to keep searching for cost-effective ways to impact the group.

Bench Depth

Infield and outfield options depth will be important especially if core pieces are traded this offseason. Depending on how things shake out, there will probably be needs for complementary players to address platoon advantages (outfield corners and second base) and late-inning defense (center field).

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