MESA, Ariz. -- Last July 25, the Cubs had a seven-game lead in the National League Central, but management felt they were missing one piece for the postseason. Cue the music for Albertin Chapman.Chapman, acquired from the Yankees in a five-player deal, was key to the Cubs' postseason run, and
MESA, Ariz. -- Last July 25, the Cubs had a seven-game lead in the National League Central, but management felt they were missing one piece for the postseason. Cue the music for Albertin Chapman.
Chapman, acquired from the Yankees in a five-player deal, was key to the Cubs' postseason run, and helped them win the World Series. But the left-hander became a free agent after Game 7 and did not return to Chicago, instead signing a five-year contract to rejoin the Yankees.
The Cubs' new closer is Wade Davis, who was acquired in December from the Royals for Jorge Soler. Davis has experience. He helped the Royals win a World Series in 2015. In fact, the Cubs now have the three pitchers who recorded the final out in three of the last four World Series in Mike Montgomery (2016), Davis ('15) and Koji Uehara, who finished the '13 championship for the Red Sox.
This offseason, the Cubs spent most of the time thinking about how they needed to be prepared. What if one of the five starting pitchers is sidelined? They signed Brett Anderson, who will start the season in the rotation, and added pitchers Eddie Butler, Alec Mills and Casey Kelly as insurance.
What if Albert Almora Jr. struggles at the plate? The Cubs acquired veteran Jonathan Jay to share center field and nurture Almora.
The Cubs have been active at the Trade Deadline under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, but that was part of the rebuilding plan. Now, they feel the Cubs boast a solid core of young position players and they hope to have enough inventory in the Minor Leagues to fill holes if needed. Ian Happ, the club's No. 1 Draft pick in 2015 and current No. 2 prospect, has gotten a long look this spring. Who knows? If the Cubs want help at second base, he could be called up. Jeimer Candelario could sub at third or first base if needed.
Last year, the Cubs were willing to part with top prospect Gleyber Torres for Chapman. There is more in the Minor League system if they decide to make a deal this July to fill a hole.
Of course, in the Cubs' perfect world, they open a huge lead in the NL Central again; the pitchers lead the NL in ERA; Kyle Schwarber, Kristopher Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell help power the offense; and they cruise into the postseason.
We'll see what happens this summer.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.