With Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball’s Players Association finally meeting in hopes of avoiding the cancellation of games due to the lockout, the attention has returned to the moves that the Chicago Cubs will need to make once the off-season resumes in order to be competitive in 2022.
The direction in which the Cubs are headed in for the 2022 season remains uncertain. After the team traded the likes of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Javier Baez, third baseman Kris Bryant, and outfielder Joc Pederson leading up to the 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline, the expectation was that the Cubs would enter a rebuilding period. The idea of trading veteran players and restocking the farm system appeared to be a real option for the Cubs in 2022, especially after the haul of prospects that the team received at last season’s deadline.
Despite the idea that the Cubs were headed towards a rebuild for the 2022 season, the team has approached this off-season in a manner that would suggest that they are looking to contend. Prior to the lockout on December 1, the Cubs had three acquisitions in which they spent a significant amount of money.
The three acquisitions that the Cubs had included a $10 million waiver claim for veteran starting pitcher Wade Miley; a 2-year. $13-million contract with backup catcher Yan Gomes; and, a 3-year, $71-million contract with free agent starting pitcher Marcus Stroman. Those acquisitions, more importantly, the money spent on those acquisitions do not signal a team that is ready to rebuild during the 2022 season.
The Chicago Cubs may look towards Japan in an effort to improve their 2022 projected offensive numbers.
There is a new report out of Japan that would also seem to suggest that the Cubs are not planning on rebuilding during the 2022 season. A Japanese News outlet is reporting that the Cubs will be one of four finalists for Japanese power hitting outfielder Seiya Suzuki. Suzuki was posted by his NPB last November and will be able to under Major League Baseball contract negotiations once the lockout is concluded.
While not as prolific as Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, Suzuki is widely considered to be among the best hitters to make the transition from Japan to Major League Baseball. Last season in Japan, Suzuki had a .317/.433/.636/1.069 clip in 538 plate appearances to go along with 38 home runs and 88 RBIs. Even factoring in the adjustment to Major League Baseball’s style of play, Suzuki projects to still be an above-average power hitter.
There is no question that the Cubs are going to need to address the question marks that exist within their starting lineup before the 2022 season. Suzuki would seemingly be an ideal fit for the Cubs considering the team is currently lacking power and will have an opening in the outfield.