It has been a tale of two offseasons for the Cubs, who were inactive at the start of the winter but in recent weeks have shored up their roster with a flurry of moves in anticipation of spring training starting next week.
The additions of outfielder Joc Pederson and right-handers Trevor Williams and Kohl Stewart have enabled the Cubs to fill several needs it appeared they wouldn’t be able to fill.
While the process to find adequate replacements for departed outfielder Kyle Schwarber and pitchers Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish wasn’t quick, the Cubs have high hopes their new-est additions are on an upward trajectory.
Pederson has an added chip on his shoulder after a less-than-stellar 2020 season with the World Series champion Dodgers. He slashed .190/.285/.397 with seven home runs and an 88 weighted runs created plus.
‘‘I love the tone of [Joc’s] voice about betting on himself,’’ Cubs president Jed Hoyer said Monday. ‘‘I think that was something that really resonates. I think he felt like he didn’t put up the numbers he wanted last year. I think he felt like he was being painted with a brush that he didn’t want to be painted with. And his goal was to find a place where he could go out and prove it. We had a spot wide-open for him, and we were able to work out the finances.’’
The Cubs’ financial position relative to the luxury tax appeared dire this offseason, and after a mandate to shed payroll led to the departures of Darvish and others, it appeared most additions to the roster might come from their minor-league system. But the Cubs’ recent acquisitions suggest there might have been a shift in their thinking.
‘‘Budgeting is a hard thing to talk about . . . because there’s a competitive disadvantage to have everyone know what the budget is,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘But I think all throughout the offseason, we talked about a range and we talked about there being some timing issues.
‘‘So I think where we were early in the offseason was right where we thought we might be, [which] was a little bit lower in that range. And I think that as we got deeper in the offseason and got some better news on a few things that we were able to kind of move up a little bit into the higher end of that range. I think that kind of helped us round out the roster.’’
The news Hoyer spoke of might be linked to an increased projection in team revenues in 2021. With COVID-19 numbers slowly starting to decrease and the vaccine rollout increasing around the country, fans attending games has become more of a possibility. The Cubs also will be allowed 25% capacity at games this spring at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona.
But while there aren’t as many glaring needs on the roster as there were just a couple of months ago, the Cubs aren’t ruling out more additions, even with spring training just days away.
‘‘We’re still having conversations with a number of other players,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘No guarantees anything gets done, of course, but certainly our hope would be to continue to round out the roster.’’