Offseason Update: Questions facing NL Central Teams
Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in a week. What now appear to be the most urgent questions for each NL Central club?
Let's start with the home team and move down last year's standings.
Will the Chicago Cubs add one of the remaining top free agents? They have made several moves to fill gaps in the pitching staff and have aquired a highly regarded prospect in Michael Busch who could take a lot of the playing time at first or spend some time at third and DH when needed. They've been linked to both Matt Chapman and Cody Bellinger, each of whom remain available and could fill positions without an established performer so far. Will the Cubs make one more splash or move forward with what they have in a division without a clear favorite?
The Milwaukee Brewers ran away with the division as the Cubs faded down the 2023 stretch. However, they've lost Brandon Woodruff to a shoulder injury and traded their final year of control of Corbin Burnes in favor of multiple years of prospects from the Orioles. Will they also send Willy Adames on his way, further leveraging in favor of long term control and sacrificing some punch in 2024?
The Cincinnati Reds are an exciting young team. They may be without Joey Votto for the first time in a long time. Will Elly de la Cruz break out enough to be the next difference maker in 2024?
The Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a strong start in 2023 but sank nearly to the bottom of the division over the course of the season. Can Bryan Reynolds return to his 2021 form, or will he settle in as the solid but unspectacular player he has been during the last two seasons?
Finally, the Cardinals lost a good chunk of their roster as a result of a horrendous 2024. They've patched some holes in the starting rotation with short term deals, most notably adding Sonny Gray. Will they have a return of some of that Cardinals magic, or will Ollie Marmol continue to feel Yadier Molina breathing down his neck?
Please continue your offseason discussion below. I am looking forward to having some Spring Training content to discuss with you all soon!