Offseason Grades – The Cubs Wind Up in the “You Did OK” Bucket
The Athletic today graded each team’s offseason, with an assist from their various beat writers.
I think the Cubs generally landed in the right place (while I chuckle about the only team to get an F):
You can see the massive cluster in the B range, which is logical when you consider what the offseason is: almost exclusively an opportunity to “add stuff” to your roster. I find that “what you lost” is often not considered enough in these things, and you also don’t see a ton of “sell” trades in the offseason. So you wind up with a lot of offseasons that look pretty OK, if not great. Thus, a ton of B- through B+.
As for the Cubs, here’s what Patrick Mooney wrote:
After years of downsizing, half measures and PR gaffes, the Cubs committed more than $300 million to free agents, executing a plan to raise the floor of the 2023 season with competent major-league players and consistent staples like pitching and defense. A refreshing emphasis on clubhouse dynamics factored into the additions of players like Dansby Swanson, Jameson Taillon and Trey Mancini. Wrigleyville is always fun in the summer, but the actual on-field product could be really entertaining this year. There is also a case to be made that the Cubs didn’t go far enough this offseason by signing the fourth-best shortstop on the market while missing opportunities to land a top-of-the-rotation starter and a middle-of-the-order hitter.
I’m not sure I would’ve regarded it much differently.
It can’t be an A, which I would reserve for the kind of offseason where you’re just shaking your head at how incredible it was. I also don’t think it’s a C, because the Cubs did accomplish a whole lot to get close to something resembling competitive on paper (a tall task, given where things were last year). I’d probably lean toward a B- until I see what that final bullpen addition is going to be, though. Would’ve liked to have seen one more big bat. That probably would’ve got me thinking about a B+ or an A-.
Elsewhere in the NL Central, the Cardinals get a C+ for their “underwhelming” offseason, where retaining Nolan Arenado and Adam Wainwright, while replacing Yadi Molina with Willson Contreras, was describe as “doing the minimum.” I don’t disagree that it was a relatively quiet offseason for the NL Central frontrunner, but I think convincing Arenado to not opt out of his willlldly undermarket deal should count for something.
The Brewers also get a C+, primarily for failing to really spend any money. They did make a number of creative moves to shuffle pieces, but they arguably didn’t do much to improve the roster over 2022.
The Pirates somehow got a B for their SPENDING SPLURGE of $30.4 million (total). Rich Hill and Carlos Santana and Andrew McCutchen are fine additions, but it was always the case that they weren’t going to do much, and would rely on internal progression from their youngsters.
The Reds get a C+ for … doing what they were expected to do, which is basically nothing? I suppose I understand the thinking (which was similar for the Brewers and Pirates): the front offices aren’t being given much to work with, so they did what they could. But again, it’s not like the Reds are improved from last year, so how are they getting a passing grade?
Read up on the rest of the offseasons around baseball, and how/why they wound up where they did. By contrast, the Cubs really did have a fine and thoughtful offseason. They have earned their B, even if we all wish it was an offseason that merited a better grade.