Thu Mar 23 3:34pm ET
Field Level Media
2022 record: 74-88, third in National League Central
Offseason headlines: After missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, Chicago showed it was determined to revamp its lineup by making one of the biggest splashes in free agency, signing SS Dansby Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million deal. The Cubs also went brought in veteran Trey Mancini and threw a one-year contract at outfielder Cody Bellinger, who, much like Chicago, is looking for a resurgence. The 2019 National League MVP, Bellinger hit just .210 a season ago. Right-hander Jameson Taillon was signed to bolster the starting rotation following his 14-win season with the Yankees in 2022, but the lack of pitching acquisitions could mean the Cubs are looking to lean on some younger arms. Chicago said goodbye to longtime catcher Willson Contreras, making the magical World Series squad of 2016 seem even more like a thing of the past.
Spring headlines: Hayden Wesneski has emerged as a viable option for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. It was a much different story for fellow right-hander Adrian Sampson, who has been lit up for 15 runs (14 earned) in 12 2/3 innings through his first four spring appearances. Mancini looks as comfortable as ever with his new team and is hitting .359 with two homers and four RBIs in his first 39 at-bats. Catcher Yan Gomes also has been thriving in the wake of Contreras' departure.
Outfielder Seiya Suzuki is expected to begin the season on the injured list due to an oblique strain, but he's been doing some light hitting, running and agility work at camp.
Young guns: Wesneski, 25, came over from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline last season and made a good impression in six appearances (four starts) with Chicago, posting a measly 2.18 ERA across 33 innings. Wesneski, the Cubs' No. 5-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, set himself up nicely for a full season in the rotation after catching the eye of manager David Ross this spring. "He knows that he belongs," Ross said. "But, he also has a way about him that he's not, 'I'm the fifth starter. I'm this or that.' He knows that this is a process."
Fall feeling: Chances are the St. Louis Cardinals will have no problem maintaining their hold on the NL Central, leaving Chicago and the Milwaukee Brewers to duke it out for second place in the division. If the Cubs want to end their modest postseason drought, they'll likely have to do so with a wild-card berth.
Odds, even: The books are predicting another third-place finish in the NL Central for the Cubs, who sit at +600 on FanDuel and +650 on DraftKings to win the division.