After the last week of moves from the Chicago Cubs, there’s little doubt as to which team has won the MLB off-season so far. Adding John Lackey, Ben Zobrist, Adam Warren, and now Jason Heyward to a core that many had already considered to be among the best in all of baseball appears to make this team nigh unbeatable in 2016. But even those mind-blowing additions don’t guarantee Theo Epstein and his all-star caliber roster anything in a 162-game MLB season.
My favorite tweet following the signing of Heyward came from Patrick Daugherty:
Cubs easily the most unbeatable team since the 2015 Nats. Easily.
— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) December 11, 2015
In case you need a reminder, those Nats were the consensus World Series favorites entering 2015 following their huge off-season signing of ace Max Scherzer to add to an already stacked rotation and a rising superstar in Bryce Harper. Scherzer lived up to his billing as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, and Harper won the NL MVP with a performance for the ages, but Washington barely exceeded the .500 mark and missed the playoffs.
If nothing else, those Nationals should serve as a valuable reminder to the Cubs about just how fickle the world of professional baseball is nowadays. Too many random factors can work against a team throughout the course of a season. While the Cubs’ huge off-season additions have undoubtedly improved their roster on multiple fronts, those moves have also placed a huge target on the team that will cause rival rosters to step up their game when going against the unquestioned 2016 favorites.
All told, the Cubs have gone from a group of overachieving kids to a highly-paid gathering of favorites who now face perhaps the highest expectations of any Cubs team in my two-decade lifetime. With an elite front office, the best manager in baseball, and a roster with legendary potential, the Cubs don’t have any choice but to commit to winning and remember that nothing will be handed to them in the MLB.