The Chicago Cubs have sent mixed signals ever since the start of the 2021 season.
In April, they were all set to fight for the divisional crown, the National League Central, and they did for several weeks.
After two months, the Cubs had a 31-23 record, 0.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the division.
But everything went downhill after that point.
By the time July came around, the Cubs already knew they weren’t going to catch up with the Milwaukee Brewers, and decided to sell.
They Looked Like A Rebuilding Team At The Deadline
At the time, it wasn’t clear whether they would be entering a rebuild that took several years, or a retooling with the idea of competing in 2022.
If they weren’t going to pay any of those players, it really didn’t make sense to keep them when most of them were going to be free agents after the 2021 season, so trading them made sense.
But after seeing their moves in the early part of the 2021-22 offseason, it’s clear that they aren’t in a true rebuild.
Chicago is bringing in pieces to compete in the upcoming season, and while they are still clearly worse than the Brewers, a Wild Card spot isn’t out of the question.
Those aren’t the moves of a rebuilding team.
As it turns out, the Cubs did retool with 2022 in mind.
The Cubs Plan To Be Competitive In 2022
Again, if the Cubs were entering a full, true rebuild, then the Stroman, Miley, and Gomes signings would have made zero sense.
Cubs with Stroman at least sets them up for a contend if everything goes right season, which is all you can ask for a team like that https://t.co/lUgSRejnTI
— Ghost of Chicken Puppet (@baseballgaloot) December 1, 2021
Only the Frazier addition would have been logical for a rebuilding club because he was non-tendered, has talent and some track record, and was cheap.
What the Cubs didn’t want to do was to pay full price for the likes of Baez (who signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Detroit Tigers), Rizzo, or Bryant, who will surely command something along those lines, if not more.
And if they didn’t want to do it, it’s understandable, even though fans are still hurting because those were World Series heroes.
The Cubs, however, can’t be ruled out in the race for Bryant if his market collapses post-lockout.
The player didn’t close the door on a return, and the team could use a versatile player of his caliber, who can play third base, both outfield corners, and also some first base if needed.
The bottom line is that the Cubs perhaps projected the image of a contending team around the trade deadline, but they are going for it now: they retooled, traded expiring contracts to get something in return, stockpiled some prospects, and are now looking at another competitive window.
— Ryan Knipe (@BaseballRyan42) December 4, 2021
2022 may not be their year, but they are putting the pieces into place.