After a torturous off-season that was headlined by a three plus month stressful lockout, baseball is back. Teams are now over one full week into spring training games and the new version of Brewers Opening Day is right around the corner.
Due to the lockout, moves seemed to happen in clusters this offseason. So, as we start to approach the 2022 regular season, why not take a look back at some of those moves across the division and see how those seem to be setting up each team for the upcoming year.
Here is a quick 2022 preview of the teams in the NL Central, starting with our very own Milwaukee Brewers and the rival Chicago Cubs.
After winning the NL Central in 2021, the Crew is returning a bunch of key players from last year’s squad. They did make a handful of under-the-radar moves including signing Trevor Gott and Pedro Severino, trading for Mike Brosseau and J.C Mejia, and bringing back free agent reliever Brad Boxberger.
Milwaukee’s biggest moves included sending Jackie Bradley Jr back to the Red Sox in exchange for Hunter Renfroe and signing their new designated hitter in Andrew McCutchen. On paper, this year’s offense is poised to hit for more power, which was an area where the Brewers finished right around the middle of the pack last year.
From a pitching standpoint, the starting rotation again could put up historic numbers and the bullpen likely will be one of the best in the league. Headlining the pitchers includes the reigning NL Cy Young winner in Corbin Burnes and three-time NL Reliever of the Year Josh Hader.
Combine those two with the likes of Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Devin Williams, Aaron Ashby, and others and this team looks very good. They are a team that is set up to compete and anything short of a fifth consecutive playoff berth would be a disappointment.
The Cubs were sellers at last year’s trade deadline and ended up with 91 losses in 2021. They departed ways with the big three of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, not to mention Joc Pederson, Craig Kimbrel, and others. That, though, opened the doors for others to shine.
Patrick Wisdom was one of those players. He ended up setting the Cubs rookie record in home runs with 28, though he finished with a 40% strikeout rate. With the chance at an every day role, first basemen Frank Schwindel and outfielder Rafael Ortega also performed well and are projected to be starters on the 2022 Cubs team.
In the offseason, the Cubs added utility player Jonathan Villar and outfielder Clint Frazier. Both are expected to play every day this season. They also added pitchers Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley to join their starting rotation.
All-in-all, the Cubs look a lot different from years past and are not expected to be contenders right out of the gate. However, if they are firing on all cylinders there is a chance that they could be a sneaky dangerous team.