Head-to-Head: A Look Into the 2021 Chicago Cubs


Katie Popp, Co-Editor In Chief

With Spring Training less than a month away, the Chicago Cubs have made some decisions that seem ‘off’ to us fans. As February slowly approaches, it seems as if the lineup and bullpen are shrinking. Is this all strategy, or is this going to be a rough season for the Cubbies?

Back in November, following the official end to the 2020 MLB season, the Cubs announced some of their plans for the upcoming season, including the signing of first baseman Anthony Rizzo for another year and declining pitcher Jon Lester’s contract after playing for the team since 2014. At the same time, former president of baseball operations, Theo Epistein, stepped down, bringing in a new president, Jed Hoyer, to the team (click here to read more about the new president and his goals for the team). After these announcements, fans held their breaths hoping that those were the major changes the team hoped for the new season.

A major decision that shocked fans and the media was the releasing of Kyle Schwarber to the Washington Nationals. After signing with the Cubs in 2014, Schwarber took his place on the team during the legendary 2016 World Series. After playing the next four seasons as the team’s “slugger”, a name given for his powerful at-bats, the team decided to release him as a free agent, as he had few trade offers and had suffered some pretty major injuries in the past years. Similarly, Jon Lester signed a one-year contract with the Nationals after the Cubs threw him a curveball by not renewing his contract. Nonetheless, both of these players will be missed by Cubs fans- they were both part of a legacy that will stay with the team for years to come.

The team has also recently decided to trade Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres. It does come as a complete surprise that the team said goodbye to Darvish- after acquiring him from the Dodgers in 2018, he sat on the IL for a better part of the 2019 season and struggled when he made a return to the mound. It was not until towards the end of the 2020 did they see some consistency in Darvish- but overall, it was probably a trade for the better. However, along with Darvish, the Cubs also gave the Padres catcher Victor Carantini. In return, the Cubs acquired starting pitcher, Zach Davies, from the Padres. Davies made his MLB debut in 2015 with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015, but was later traded to the Padres for the 2020 season. With his last season with the Padres, he placed second in the national league with a total of seven wins, just one behind Darvish. Davies came in fifth for an earned run average of 2.73. Jose Quintana, a closing pitcher, recently signed with the Los Angeles Angels and former Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, after the team did not renew his contract. All in all, it was about time some changes were made in the bullpen. 

On a more positive note, the Cubs have recently signed a one-year deal with Austin Romaine, a catcher who formerly played for the Detroit Tigers. During the 2020 season, Romaine had an overall batting average of .238 and a total of 2 home runs, 12 runs, and 17 runs brought in. However, he is known for arm, especially being able to throw to second base in 1.78-1.88 seconds, which the team needs after struggling with defense last season. Fan favorites such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Ian Happ still remain in rotation.

After cuts the team has made and the few contracts that have been signed, there are still a few holes left in the rotations. There are still many free market players available who came off of a rocky 2020 season, but may thrive under Cubs’ coaching. All in all, it is too soon to say how the 2021 season will look for the Cubs. As for us fans, we should remain hopeful- if we could make it 108 years without a World Series, one rough year doesn’t sound all that bad.