Marcus Stroman, the Chicago Cubs’ biggest acquisition heading into 2022, took the hill for the Northsiders in their final home game of the year on Sunday. Stroman pitched six scoreless innings, striking out seven Redleg batters to earn the victory.
WP: Stroman (6-7)
LP: Chase Anderson (2-4)
The Northsiders’ bats came alive after a quiet afternoon on Saturday, scoring eight runs on 11 hits. Anderson was responsible for five of those runs and only managed to record one out, the first of two productive outs off of Nico Hoerner‘s bat. The game’s biggest blows came from Nelson Velázquez, who drove in four runs on a 1st inning double and a 7th inning triple.
4-RBI day for Nelson Velázquez! pic.twitter.com/vMB3Bapj0E
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) October 2, 2022
The Cubs’ victory sealed a sweep in the final homestand of 2022.
Sunday also marked Willson Contreras‘s possible last appearance as a Chicago Cub at Wrigley Field. Fans have had several opportunities to send off Contreras this year as an anticipated trade deadline deal never materialized.
Standing ovation for Willson Contreras’ last home plate appearance this season. Last at Wrigley as a Cub?
He got another ovation when removed for a pinch runner. pic.twitter.com/phdw5bvSav
— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) October 2, 2022
Contreras has once again declared he is looking forward to testing the free agent market.
Willson Contreras on his future: “Since the moment that I got here, I knew this could have been my home for my entire career. But I got to the moment in my career that is like a dream come true, I've earned my spot in free agency, and I'm looking forward to it.” #Cubs pic.twitter.com/pKxhOzgMmy
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) October 2, 2022
The Northsiders’ 2022 season will end with three more games against the Reds in Cincinnati. The Cubs will finish the year in third place behind the Central Division champion St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. The latter are two games behind Philadelphia for the final National League Wild Card spot.
What’s next for the Cubs?
The decision on whether to tender Contreras a qualifying offer will be one of the most consequential of the coming winter for the Northsiders. They will need to fill the void in veteran leadership if they do not retain the three-time All-Star’s services in 2023 and beyond.
With Jason Heyward to be released in the offseason, Kyle Hendricks will be the only remaining member of the 2016 championship squad on the roster if Contreras does not return. Another down year has further reduced Hendo’s trade value, but the Cubs may take whatever deal they can get to clean the slate.
I don’t have high hopes for the Cubs to pursue free agents aggressively, but I do hope they negotiate contracts with first-time All-Star Ian Happ and Hoerner, a potential individual Gold Glove winner. I am also looking for some trade activity. With Arte Moreno exploring a sale of the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani is rumored to be available.
The fallout from Arte Moreno selling the Angels would be monumental.
1) Opens the door to a Shohei Ohtani trade — or record-setting extension.
2) With enormous revenues, Angels still have never had a payroll over $183M. That'll change.
3) MLB's most hands-on owner is gone.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 23, 2022
With or without a player of Ohtani’s caliber, 2023 will mark the beginning of a new era for the Chicago Cubs.
Featured Image: Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, shown on May 29, 2016. Fans celebrate their 7-2 win against the Philadelphia Phillies by Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com.