There's this weird sentiment going around that the Cubs haven't spent any money or added any new players this offseason. I know it's fun and easy to hate on #CheapRicketts, but hear me out on this one: the Cubs front office has actually spent quite a bit of dough this offseason and added a few notable multi-year deals, including one position player that has the potential to be a star outfielder in the league. Whether you love the new direction of the Cubs or hate it, you're here reading this for a reason, so let's meet the new Cubs, shall we?
New Cub: Wade Miley
Position: Starting Pitcher
2021 Team and Stats: Cincinnati Reds, 3.37 ERA/3.97 FIP, 2.9 fWAR
The Quick and Dirty: Little did we know at the time, but Miley was the first sign of the Great Reds Fire Sale of 2021-22. They didn't even want to pay him $10 million this season, so they put him on waivers where the Cubs promptly scooped him up. Miley's profile is 100% Wily Veteran Contact Manager, which fits right into the Cubs wheelhouse. He's not a top of the rotation starter, but that's not why he's here. He'll do fine in that middle rotation role, particularly with the Cubs now-fortified infield defense.
New Cub: Clint Frazier
Position: Outfield/Designated Hitter
2021 Team and Stats: New York Yankees, .186/.317/.317, 83 wRC+, -0.9 fWAR.
The Quick and Dirty: Clint Frazier's time in New York was, uh, tumultuous, to say the least. Sure, he had injury problems, but when he was healthy he was blocked by some huge contracts and "interesting" choices by the Yankees. A healthy season and some playing time might give Poor Clint Frazier the shot he needs to live up to that first round draft pick potential, even after a rough 2021.
New Cub: Marcus Stroman
Position: Starting Pitcher
2021 Team and Stats: New York Mets, 3.02 ERA/3.49 FIP, 3.4 fWAR
The Quick and Dirty: If you follow me on Twitter or read my writing here, you already know how I feel about this signing. Marcus Stroman has been one of my favorite pitchers in the league for years. Literally. I wouldn't expect his performance to be any different with the Cubs, and many of the moves Jed has engineered for the infield have been designed to keep that ERA low.
New Cub: Seiya Suzuki
2021 Team and Stats: Hiroshima Toyo Carp (JPWL), .317/.433/.636
The Quick and Dirty: Those numbers are pretty, but like all players from another country, Suzuki's biggest question is how well his skills will translate to MLB. The Cubs scouting team thought highly enough of him that the Cubs recruited him voraciously before and after the lockout, handing him a 5-year, $83 million deal. He worships Mike Trout and his Trout-like swing is proof. I have high confidence that he can be a star in MLB. He's also fun! Yay for fun players!
New Cub: Yan Gomes
2021 Team and Stats: Washington Nationals/Oakland A's .252/.301/.421, 93 wRC+, 1.6 fWAR
The Quick and Dirty: Yeah, I know this signing came with some pearl-clutching about him replacing Willson Contreras in the starting role, but my take is that the Cubs want Willy to finally get some rest. He's caught way too many innings the last few years and it has taken a toll on his offensive production. Having Gomes come in as a legit backup will make Contreras better and make the pitching staff more effective. Win-win!
New Cub: Andrelton Simmons
2021 Team and Stats: Minnesota Twins, .223/.283/.274, 56 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR
The Quick and Dirty: Andrelton Simmons hasn't always been a terrible hitter. In fact, for most of his career, his offensive numbers have been, well, more like below average, but not as awful as 2021. His real value is in his glove, where he's always been a plus defender. The Cubs didn't bring him on to start every day, but rather to help stabilize an uncertain defensive middle infield with a contact-heavy starting rotation. You might hate his anti-vax politics, but the glove will play as a late-inning defensive replacement.
New Cub: Jonathan Villar
Position: Utility Infield
2021 Team and Stats: New York Mets, .249/.322/.416, 105 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
The Quick and Dirty: Villar is an average offensive player, but he's really here to give the Cubs another lefty bat (he's a switch hitter) and because he can play 3B in case PWizzy craters. It's not bad to have some insurance in case our beloved Wisdom can't get that K rate under control, even if Villar's defense isn't spectacular. Plus, we already know that the Cubs will be without David Bote for the first part of the season due to shoulder surgery, so the extra help will be welcome.
The Relievers: As always, the Cubs have gone out and stocked the bullpen with a whole bunch of arms ranging from proven swingmen/relievers to reclamation projects that will keep #HOTtovy plenty busy. This year you might see any or all of Drew Smyly, Steven Brault, Jesse Chavez, Daniel Norris, David Robertson, Mychal Givens, and even Robert Gsellman in various roles in the Cubs Arm Barn. With Adbert Alzolay starting the year on the IL, you might even see someone like Smyly in a starting role unless the Cubs can pull off a surprise move or one of the Justin Steele/Keegan Thompson guys on the cusp can win the job out of spring training. Regardless of what you might think about the Cubs' direction, they've had tremendous success with this approach in the bullpen over the last few years, turning guys like Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera into elite relievers.
So there you have it... the new group of free agents signed by the Cubs since last year. That's not even covering Nick Madrigal, who came over in the Craig Kimbrel trade but was injured and hasn't played an MLB game with the team yet. Time to dig in and see how the newbies do.
I literally just explained it!