The Chicago Cubs had a weird 2021 in which they started as contenders and ended up rebuilding.
The rebuild phase, however, was expected to be just for the trade deadline: now, the Cubs want to be relevant again.
It’s a tall task, but they may actually pull it off if they play their cards right.
Here are some players that can help Chicago achieve its objectives.
3. Andrew Chafin
Andrew Chafin already knows what it’s like to succeed in a Cubs uniform.
Last year, he started the year with the Cubs, and had a 2.06 ERA and 0.839 WHIP in 39.1 innings.
He was then traded to the Oakland Athletics, where he had a 1.53 ERA and 1.057 WHIP in 29.1 innings.
His overall numbers were impressive: a 1.83 ERA, 0.932 WHIP, 2.9 bWAR in 68.2 innings.
He entered the market after rejecting a $5.25 million mutual option.
He is reportedly looking for a multi-year deal.
Chafin has always been solid, so if Chicago wants to fight for the postseason, he is a known commodity.
We know that Chafin will fit right in.
Of all the players traded, the one player that I believe will return is:
Andrew Chafin #Cubs
— Tim Connors 🥨 (@ConnArtist99) August 4, 2021
2. Jon Gray
It’s clear that, if the Cubs want to go somewhere in 2022, they need pitching badly.
They understand this, and made their first major move by claiming Wade Miley off waivers.
Miley is at least a top-two starter in the Cubs as things stand, but the club needs more than just him and Kyle Hendricks.
Adding Jon Gray, a free agent who pitched his whole career in Colorado, can pay major dividends.
He is one of the youngest free agent pitchers at 30, and his right arm is electric.
He has a career 4.59 ERA, in part because he calls Coors Field home.
However, his 3.91 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) tells a different story.
Cubs starters had a 5.27 ERA (27th in MLB), and were 26th in earned runs allowed and 28th in WHIP.
Improving the rotation is a must, if they want to compete.
1. Michael Conforto
Ian Happ, with a solid second half, also showed he can produce.
Hoerner is young and can be a good contact bat.
Heyward, on the other hand, is getting up there in age (32) and slumped badly in 2021, hitting .214/.280/.347.
A good outfielder like Michael Conforto can surely help.
Conforto is a career .255/.356/.468 hitter and averaged 29.3 home runs per season between 2017 and 2019.
He didn’t have a good 2021 but is a proven performer, and is a young free agent at 29 years old.
Among the qualified free agents, I can make out an argument that the Cubs should still go after Castellanos or Conforto, and/or one of the shortstops if their market just doesn't develop and there's too much value to pass up.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 7, 2021
Depending on the price tag, Chicago should be very interested in Conforto.