Cubs 2020 Preview

The original scoreboard at Wrigley Field (July 2016)

While we wait for the 2020 MLB season to begin, we’ve been given some time to look at our favorite team’s rosters (from active and 40-man non-roster invitees) from the too short Spring Training.

The 2019 season was a rather disappointing one for the Cubs, and the fans are back to our old adage, “there’s always next year.” With changes on the field and on the bench, the Cubs are hoping the changes will bring enough fire to push the Cubs pack into the playoffs.

David Ross at the 2016 World Series
(Photo by Pam Wilinski)

The biggest change to the Cubs was the managerial position. Joe Maddon served as the Cubs’ manager from 2015 – 2019, leading the Cubs to 3 postseason appearances – including the 2016 World Series, and the 2018 Wild Card game. Maddon left after the 2019 season to head the Los Angeles Angels and serve as their skipper. Taking the helm for the Cubs for the 2020 season is David Ross, best known to Cubs fans as “Grandpa Rossy.” Ross was a member of the Cubs from 2015 – 2016. On April 21, 2016, Ross caught his first no-hitter, against the Cincinnati Reds, his former team, with starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. Ross hit his 100th home run off of Adam Morgan of the Philadelphia Phillies on May 27, 2016. Ross announced his plans to retire following the 2016 season, after playing 15 seasons in the major leagues. During Game 7 of the 2016 MLB World Series, Ross hit a home run making him the oldest player to do so in World Series history.

With Ross coming in as the new Cubs skipper, there are some changes to the coaching staff as well. Andy Green, the former San Diego Padres Manager, will take over as the Bench Coach. Mike Napoli takes over as the Quality Control Coach. Craig Driver takes over the First Base Coach, as Will Venable takes over at third base.

New Faces

The Cubs didn’t make too many transactions during the offseason, but what they did definitely made some noise among Cubs fans.

One signing was Jeremy Jeffress, a RHP from the Milwaukee Brewers. Jeffress was drafted by the Brewers in the 2006 MLB draft, and began his major-league career in 2010. Jeffress has spent the majority of his career playing for Milwaukee. though he spent some time with the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Texas Rangers. The Cubs signed Jeffress to a one-year deal.

The signing that had Cubs Twitter abuzz was Jason Kipnis, a career-long Cleveland Indian. The Northbrook, IL, native was drafted by Cleveland in 2009. Kipnis faced his hometown team in the 2016 World Series, where he homered in Game 6. Kipnis was signed to a minor league deal, and was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

Jason Kipnis hit a home run in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series.
(Photo by Pam Wilinski)

Another new face in the Cubs’ dugout will be Steven Souza, Jr. Souza was drafted in 2007 by the Washington Nationals. He played the 2014 season with the Nationals, before playing four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Souza missed the entire 2019 season after suffering one of the most devastating injuries in baseball, tearing his left ACL and LCL, as well as partial tears in his PCL and posterior lateral capsule while slipping on home plate during an exhibition game on March 25, 2019.

Bye, Buddy

While Cubs fans will be glad to have new faces on the field, there will be quite a few that will be missing this season. Most of the departing players were at the end of their contracts and elected free agency and signed with other teams.

OF/IF Tony Kemp, who the Cubs acquired from the Houston Astros last year in a trade for C Martin Maldonado, was traded to the Oakland Athletics for 1B Alfonso Rivas. OF Nick Castellanos is headed east to the Cincinnati Reds. RHP Pedro Strop joins Castellanos in Cincinnati. Carl Edwards, Jr., went west to the Seattle Mariners. C Jonathan Lucroy, who the Cubs got from the Los Angeles Angels late last season, signed with the Boston Red Sox. LHP Cole Hamels heads to the Atlanta Braves. RHP Brandon Kintzler signed with the Miami Marlins. RHP Steve Cishek will still be local, as he signed with the Chicago White Sox. LHP Mike Montgomery will play [continued] with the Kansas City Royals. Montgomery was traded to Kansas City last season. Montgomery threw the most important pitch in Cubs history, so he deserves a special shout out.

Mike Montgomery pitching during the 10th inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.
(Photo by Pam Wilinski)

A couple faces you won’t see in Cubby Blue this summer? IF/OF Ben Zobrist and IF Addison Russell. Both have elected free agency, but there hasn’t been any word as to signing with a new team.

A Crowded Outfield

There’s an old adage, “Two’s company, but three’s a crowd.” When it comes to the Cubs outfield, there is a lot of talent. The staple outfielders are Kyle Schwarber (LF), Albert Almora Jr (CF), and Jason Heyward (RF). These three are typically the players you will see out near the ivy at Wrigley. However, Ian Happ and Kris Bryant are often put into the mix. Bryant is the Cubs’ all-star third baseman – though he often plays in LF or RF. Happ typically plays CF, though he can play in the infield at 2B. With the signing of Steven Souza, Jr., it makes for a potential six-man platoon for the outfield.

Bryant, Heyward, and Almora after a Cubs win.
(Photo by Pam Wilinski)

With all these changes on the field and on the bench, including the return of David Ross, Cubs fans should be in for a treat for the 2020 season (whenever it starts). When it does, the streets of Wrigleyville will echo with “Go Cubs Go.”

The Wrigley Field Marquee after a Cubs win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
(Photo by Pam Wilinski)

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