More PreviewsClose

Chicago Cubs

Presented by

Projected WARMarket Value

27.2 245


17.9 161


4.5 41


Projected WAR by grouping is from Fangraphs’ depth charts.
Historically each win is worth ~$9 million on the free agent market

Projected Team

  • Ian Happ, CF
  • Kris Bryant, 3B
  • Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  • Willson Contreras, C
  • Kyle Schwarber, LF
  • Addison Russell, SS
  • Jason Heyward, RF
  • Javier Baez, 2B
  • Jon Lester, LHP
  • Kyle Hendricks, RHP
  • Yu Darvish, RHP
  • Jose Quintana, LHP
  • Tyler Chatwood, RHP
  • Joe Maddon

Health Check

“I accept the Cubs’ staying under the luxury tax limit for 2018 if it means opening the purse strings and signing Bryce Harper for 2019 and beyond. If the Cubs don’t do this, or at least make a run at him, then I’ll call into question whether they are really committed to winning. It’s true that spending the most money doesn’t guarantee you championships, but in modern baseball, you have to be willing to commit to getting the best players, and if that costs more, the Cubs ought to do it.

Beyond the money, acquiring Harper would put them at the top echelon of big-league teams for the next six to eight years. After 108 years of drought, I’d like to see the Cubs a powerhouse, and adding Harper to an already formidable lineup, especially since he will enter the 2019 season at age 26, could extend the Cubs championship window.

The Cubs are now one of the “big boys” in baseball. They’ll need to start spending like it.”

—Bleed Cubbie Blue

Key Player

The Cubs had a 92-win season in 2017, which would be considered a success by most teams.

But after winning the World Series in 2016 and breaking the franchise’s 108-year title drought, falling short of even getting there in 2017 felt like somewhat of a disappointment.

And with two of the team’s five starters — Jake Arrieta and John Lackey — leaving via free agency, the Cubs knew they’d have big holes to fill before the 2018 season began.

When Yu Darvish was, at last, signed by the Cubs to a six-year, $126 million deal just before spring training camps opened. Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said that Darvish had been their No. 1 target all offseason. They made a 3½-hour presentation to him at his Dallas-area home in December that included some virtual-reality video.

Eventually, the deal Darvish signed, with an opt-out after two years, satisfied both parties and the Cubs had the rotation they wanted, possibly the best one in the National League.

Had Darvish gone elsewhere, Mike Montgomery would have likely slid in as the Cubs’ fifth starter, with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and newly signed Tyler Chatwood all moving up a spot. That would be a good rotation, but the presence of Darvish (with Montgomery resuming his 2017 role as long relief/swingman) makes it elite.

Darvish had a nightmarish World Series, and afterwards Houston players and coaches said Darvish was tipping his pitches. Presumably, this is a fixable issue.

Two years after returning from Tommy John surgery, Darvish’s velocity is returning to its former level (averaging near 95 last season), but his fastball is only one of eight different pitches he’s said to throw. The Cubs brought in Chris Gimenez to back up Willson Contreras; Gimenez caught Darvish in 2014 with the Rangers, so there’s some comfort level for Yu.

The Cubs would likely have been a postseason team without Yu Darvish. With him, they are a strong candidate to return to the World Series in 2018. If he pitches up to his pre-TJS level, the Cubs will be one of the top teams in the game. And if he does opt out after two years, it means he’s had two really good years, which will certainly help that quest.

Keep an eye on Yu. He’s not the only really good starter in the Cubs’ rotation, but he’ll be the one everyone’s watching.

—Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue

Best Case

The Cubs lost in the NLCS to the Dodgers last October, but then they signed Brandon Morrow away from Los Angeles to be their closer, and Yu Darvish to replace Jake Arrieta. Steve Cishek and Tyler Chatwood rounded out the additions, and the Cubs look like they’re just as capable of winning the NL Central and making it to the NLCS as they were a year ago. It would be the fourth such trip to the postseason’s semifinals in four years.

Worst Case

The Cubs are still the team to beat even as they mostly just found ways to maintain their talent level rather than enhance it, but the Cardinals added a legitimate star in Marcell Ozuna, while the Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain, Jhoulys Chacin, half a new bullpen, and traded for Christian Yelich. This gives Chicago less room to slip, and when they won the NL Central with 92 wins a year ago, not the dominant 103 victories of 2017, that sort of thing could ruin them in the end.