Yu Darvish is now with the Padres. Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber and Jeremy Jeffress are Nationals. José Quintana is with the Angels, and Tyler Chatwood the Blue Jays.
The 2021 Cubs may look different than the team that won its third NL Central title in five years last season, but their mindset entering this season is unchanged.
“We're here to win,” third baseman Kris Bryant said Thursday. “We're here to compete.”
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For all the roster changes the Cubs experienced this past winter, they bring back a talented position player core that admittedly underperformed during the strange 2020 season. Schwarber is the biggest departure from the group, with Joc Pederson, coming off a 2020 championship with the Dodgers, taking his place in left field.
The Cubs are well acquainted with Pederson, having faced him and Los Angeles in back-to-back postseasons in 2016 and 2017. The same can be said of new rotation arms Zach Davies and Trevor Williams, who have faced the Cubs numerous times in recent years while pitching for the Brewers and Pirates.
Oh, and former ace Jake Arrieta is back on the North Side, too.
“I like the fact that we do have some new faces to kind of keep it fresh,” Bryant said. “There’s just a lot of fresh, new opinions and advice. I think we're all going to take advantage of that.
“I think we do have a great team.”
Bryant’s message is one team president Jed Hoyer has delivered repeatedly since last season ended, even before some of those key departures happened. The third baseman cited a conversation in which Hoyer again echoed those comments.
"‘We're here to compete. We're going to do great things,'" Bryant said, relaying Hoyer's comments. "When you have the guy in charge — yeah, he could just be saying that — but I truly believe that."
Whether you put much stock into outside preseason projections for the Cubs — outfielder Jason Heyward, for one, does not — the expectations are unchanged on the North Side.
"[Winning is] just the culture of the Chicago Cubs now," Bryant said. "Before, 2015, it was kind of just like, hopeful, and now it's expected.
"Honestly, as a baseball player, that's kind of what you want to play for."