The MLB lockout is still going on, and it’s unclear if there will be any baseball played during the 2022 season. There is some optimism that a deal will get done soon, but there is still plenty of work to do.
If there is baseball, the Opening Day lineup for the Chicago Cubs is going to look much different than it has in the past. There are still a couple of familiar names returning, but this will mostly be a lineup filled with newcomers.
Since there is no real Cubs news to talk about at this time, this provides a great opportunity to project the Cubs 2022 Opening Day lineup. For this exercise we are going to use players that are currently on the roster, and also take a stab at what free agents might be signing in Chicago.
Outfield is a Mess
The outfield was a strength for the Cubs during the World Series run, but that is no longer the case. There are some players that could slide into these positions, but the front office could also look to make some moves and go in a different direction.
It’s a pretty safe bet that Ian Happ will be the starting center fielder, and Rafael Ortega will likely be at one of the corner outfield spots. The Cubs do have some money to spend, and there is a loaded group of free agents that could help out this season.
Michael Conforto is a player that would help the Cubs in a number of ways, and he looks like a solid left field option. Most Cubs fans are hoping for a return of Nick Castellanos, but that’s just not going to happen.
Infield Could Be Changing
Before we take a closer look at the infield, let’s start with the battery. Assuming both Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras enter the season fully healthy then they are going to be the starting pitcher and catcher.
Frank Schwindel has earned the right to start at first base this season, and the hope is that last year wasn’t a fluke. Patrick Wisdom should be starting at third base this season, and he has hopefully learned how to make more contact during the offseason.
Second base and shortstop are two of the most important positions on the field, and this is where the Cubs have to make some moves. Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal are good enough to play these positions, but the Cubs have to sign a shortstop.
Carlos Correa is the big fish on the free agent market, but he might be out of the price range for the Cubs. If Correa is not a realistic option then the front office needs to take a close look at someone like Trevor Story.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that one of these players signs with the Cubs and that will have a pretty substantial impact on the 2022 season for the Cubs.
The Starting 9:
1. Madrigal 2B
2. Conforto LF
3. Correa/Story SS
4. Schwindel 1B
5. Contreras C
6. Wisdom 3B
7. Hoerner DH
8. Happ CF
9. Ortega RF