Spring Training has begun for the Chicago Cubs, and the games will begin in less than two weeks. The regular season is slated to begin in April, and Major League Baseball is expecting each team to play a normal 162-game schedule.
The Cubs were National League Central Division champions in 2020 but were swept out of the playoffs by the Miami Marlins. It has been a long and difficult offseason for the Cubs, and the 2021 version of the team will look very different.
Most people believe that this will start the rebuilding phase for the Cubs, but they have started to spend money again of late. There aren’t a ton of expectations surrounding this team, and that could make them more dangerous than in years past.
With that in mind, here are five bold predictions for the 2021 Chicago Cubs.
1. Kris Bryant Finishes the Year in Chicago
It seems that a new Kris Bryant trade rumor pops up each week, but the Cubs are planning on beginning the season with him as their third baseman. The trade rumors aren’t going to stop anytime soon unless the Cubs are able to lock up the former MVP to a contract extension.
It is widely assumed throughout MLB that Bryant is going to be traded before the Trade Deadline, but I just don’t see that happening. The Cubs are not going to take anything but a monster offer, and there just isn’t a huge market.
Look for the Cubs to hold on to Bryant for the entire 2021 season as they try to win another division championship.
2. Hendricks Wins 20 Games
Kyle Hendricks is the undisputed ace of the starting rotation in 2021, even though he might have been the ace for at least the last three seasons. Yu Darvish nearly won the NL Cy Young Award a season ago, but Hendricks was the Opening Day starter.
Hendricks is one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball, and he has found a way to attack opposing hitters that are looking to blast home runs. The Cubs will be leaning on Hendricks to have a monster 2020 season, and he always seems to deliver.
Don’t be surprised to see Hendricks win 20 games in 2021 and be one of the top contenders for the NL Cy Young Award.
3. Baez Hits 40 Home Runs
Javier Baez had a miserable 2020 regular season, and that has many lowering expectations for “El Mago.” This is a huge mistake as Baez always seems to deliver when the odds are stacked against him.
Baez is a player that needs fans in the stands to be at his best, and Wrigley Field could be rocking again this Summer. There is no doubt that the shortstop will bounce back in 2021, but we are thinking big.
Javier Baez will hit at least 40 home runs in 2021, and he will once again be one of the NL MVP contenders this season.
4. Cubs are Buyers at the Trade Deadline
Most MLB executives believe that the Chicago Cubs will be sellers at the Trade Deadline, and there are several players that will have the eye of opposing teams. Most expected the Cubs to be sellers the last two seasons as well, and that just didn’t happen.
The Cubs are going to be competitive in 2020, and they are still going to be in the playoff race come July. That will allow Jed Hoyer and the Cubs front office to actually be aggressive at the Trade Deadline and they will be looking to upgrade the team for another playoff run.
5. Cubs Win National League Central
The St. Louis Cardinals are the overwhelming favorites to win the National League Central Division this season, especially after acquiring Nolan Arenado. The NL Central is not expected to be a very strong division this season, and that could allow the Cubs to rack up some wins.
Picking the St. Louis Cardinals to win the division is simply too easy, and baseball is anything but predictable. The Cubs are entering the season extremely motivated, and they will be ready to go from Day 1.
The Chicago Cubs are going to win the NL Central Division in 2021.