We can and will continue to debate the efficacy of the Chicago Cubs’ offseason, including whether they have made the right player choices or have gone far enough. I think reasonable minds can differ. So don’t take this share as me drawing any conclusions or indicating I think any points are proven beyond “the Cubs have improved at least somewhat this offseason,” which I do think is correct and shouldn’t be argued.
This morning in the Bullets I noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have done almost nothing this offseason, and yet still look pretty darn stacked. That was partially an incorrect statement, as pointed out in this Ben Clemens piece at FanGraphs. It would be more accurate to say, the Los Angeles Dodgers have done almost nothing to add to their team this offseason, because they certainly have lost a lot!
In terms of 2022 WAR that walked out the door in free agency, the Dodgers “lost” a whopping 21.3 WAR, thanks to departures like Trea Turner, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Justin Turner, and even Cody Bellinger. In terms of additions in free agency for the Dodgers, the 2022 WAR totals just 6.9. That difference – a negative 14.3 – is the largest theoretical drop in free agency so far this offseason. The Dodgers, who won 111 games last season and figure to keep on promoting talent from within, can probably absorb that drop without falling off at the top of the NL West. They’ll have to fend off the Padres again, yes, but I suspect the Dodgers will still be the on-paper favorites come Spring Training.
Oh, but this is a Cubs post. So where do the Cubs come into all this? Well, although it wasn’t the focus of Clemens’ piece, it was hard not to notice the Cubs on the extreme other end of the chart: at +8.7, the Cubs have the largest theoretical net production increase in free agency this offseason. So clearly, the Cubs are having the best offseason in baseball!
Er, well, not necessarily. There are tons of caveats:
- The Cubs didn’t have a lot of outgoing free agents because they’d already stripped down the roster considerably, so there wasn’t a lot of WAR to be lost in the first place.
- The Cubs had so many open spots at which they could add free agents that there’s a lot of “quantity” at play here.
- These are based on 2022 WAR figures, which means Dansby Swanson (6.4) has outsized importance.
- And since these are based on 2022 WAR figures, they don’t necessarily tell you much about how things will play out in 2023.
- This is just free agency, so big trades aren’t included. And if you were set to graduate a stud at a certain spot – and thus forewent free agency at that spot for good reasons – you wouldn’t get credit in an exercise like this.
So, then, I circle back to the point I made at the top: I think you can still debate whether this has been a good – or good enough – offseason for the Chicago Cubs. But what I think it’s not all that debatable is that the Cubs have improved. At least somewhat. They pretty clearly have.