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Who Are These Guys? Meet the New 2024 Cubs



It's that time of year again when we go through the Cubs roster and talk about the significant moves the team made during the offseason. Contrary to what you might have heard, Jed Hoyer did not sleep through the winter. In fact, the Cubs front office supplemented a strong foundation and exciting group of near-MLB ready prospects with some key moves that just might push this team over the edge in 2024. With that in mind, let's meet the new guys!


Craig Counsell, Manager (4 years, $40 million)

 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve put a lot of energy over the last nine years into hating Craig Counsell. After all, every year that it looked like the Cubs could dominate the National League Central, somehow Counsell turned a lineup that couldn’t hit and had a bunch of no-name pitchers into the best team in baseball down the stretch. And he did it while lurking around in the Milwaukee dugout like the angriest squirrel you’ve ever seen.



As his contract ended with the Brewers, everyone was certain he was either going to the big money Mets, replacing Tito Francona in Cleveland or working out a deal to stay in Milwaukee. No one, and I mean NO ONE, predicted he would defect to the Cubs via a secret, quickly-negotiated deal with Jed Hoyer.

No one was more shocked than I was.


It’s going to take me some time, but since he’s been with the Cubs, I’ve already seen that Counsell is a thoughtful, measured voice in the dugout and with the front office, and the differences between him and past managers are already showing up in spring training. Like what, you might ask? One big example is the willingness to give Christopher Morel some runway at 3rd base so his bat can predictably be in the lineup every day. Like a lot of us, Counsell sees huge potential in Morel’s bat and wants to give him a consistent defensive home that he hasn’t had in the past. Just taking that chance could pay dividends to the tune of 40 dongs if Chris has the potential a lot of us think he has, and it’s just one example of the way Counsell has already begun approaching things with the young Cubs.

 

Shōta Imanaga, LHSP (4 years, $53 million)

 

Another semi-surprise signing, the Cubs swooped in on Imanaga at the last minute after many assumed they were out on signing the lefty. In fact, it seems Imanaga wanted to play for the Cubs after falling in love with the city during his free agent negotiations, despite half of Cubs Xeeter insisting that no free agents ever want to play for the team. Funny, that.


Imanaga led Nippon Professional Baseball in strikeouts in 2023, as well as posting a 2.80 ERA in 148 innings and a measly 3.7% walk rate. Why such a friendly deal, then? Well, for starters, Imanaga is 30, and he also had high home run rates and fly ball rates, giving up one HR per nine innings of work. This is something he and Cubs pitching wizard Tommy Hottovy will have to work on, but the consensus still seems be that Imanaga is a top-of-the-rotation starter. He also knows how to work a crowd and has generally been delightful.



 

Hector Neris, RHRP (1 year, $9 million)

 

Remember how the Cubs bullpen petered out down the stretch in 2023? Neris is here to help with that. A longtime veteran bullpen presence, first in Philadelphia and then in Houston, Neris brings a 3.24 lifetime ERA and 10 years of experience to a young Cubs pen that can use his leadership and longevity, particularly if the Cubs are in contention after the All Star break.



 

Michael Busch, 1B/DH (Trade with LAD)

 

Michael Busch is not a lottery ticket. In fact, Busch was a top-ranked prospect in the Dodgers system and immediately slotted into the Cubs top 10. His defensive upside is sketchy, but the bat is legitimate with Busch posting a consistent .283 batting average and .919 OPS in the minor leagues. If that translates to his major league career, Busch could easily dig in at first base for the Cubs and be a longtime contributor for the team. Plus, it’ll be fun watching a guy named Busch beat up on the Cardinals.

 

Yency Almonte, RHRP (Trade with LAD)

 

The other guy to come over in the trade for Michael Busch, Almonte is a bit more of a project and someone we might not actually see a whole lot of on the big squad. Granted, he’s spent most of his career in Colorado, so his 4.51 ERA might be a tad inflated, but it’s going to take some work with the Cubs pitching gurus for him to be more than an innings eater/mop-up guy on the MLB team.

 

Cody Bellinger, OF/1B (3 years, $80 million with opt-outs)

 

OMG WE SIGNED CODY BELLINGER! I don’t need to tell you about this guy. Jed went out and filled the Cody Bellinger-shaped hole in the lineup with Cody Bellinger. Pretty smart move, I’d say.




So that’s it! That’s the offseason! It might not be a ton of new guys, but I think it just might be the right number of new guys to get the team where it needs to go. I’m ready to pump that sunshine!



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