Have the free agency and trade departures been answered by the “new guys?”
This offseason brought several talented new players to the team, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and John Lackey will step into starting roles and are expected to have immediate impact. Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera departed for new homes, but the majority of the 2015 roster is intact.
Herrera’s high-spirits and morale-boosting presence, along with the hootenanny revelries of reliever Jason Motte, who also departed, will be missed. If he should make it past spring training and see some time with the team, Munenori Kawasaki, recently signed to a minor league contract, can help with this.
Fowler was strong in center field last year, and was solid in the lead-off slot as well. He provided a much needed spark to galvanize the young offense. His late season backup, Austin Jackson, also went to free agency, leaving Jason Heyward with Matt Szczur and Javier Baez as likely backups. The roles that Fowler filled were vital to the 2015 success, so one thing the Cubs will have to do is to be certain they address his loss. Hewyard looks good to do just that, with upgrades in the field and behind the plate. Versatility is what will pull them through injuries and rough spots, with Joe Maddon‘s love of shuffling positions and keeping the lineup loose.