IN NEED OF RELIEF
The bullpen has potential, but health is a major concern at the moment. Closer Brandon Morrow will miss the start of the season while he recovers from elbow surgery. Pedro Strop has been hampered by right hamstring trouble, and Tony Barnette and Xavier Cedeno also are dealing with injuries. Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and newcomer Brad Brach could get plenty of work until reinforcements arrive from the disabled list. The 32-year-old Cishek had a 2.18 ERA in a career-high 80 appearances in his first year with Chicago. Brach had 12 saves and a 3.59 ERA in 69 games for Baltimore and Atlanta last season.
The Cubs are hoping Daniel Descalso can provide some additional veteran leadership after he agreed to a $5 million, two-year contract in December. The utility infielder hit .238 with a career-best 13 homers and 57 RBIs in 138 games with Arizona last season.
Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana form what could be baseball's deepest rotation. Lester went 18-6 last year with a 3.32 ERA. Darvish missed most of his first season with Chicago because of injuries, but looked much better this spring. Hamels provided a big lift after he was acquired in a July trade with Texas, and Hendricks and Quintana also are consistent performers.
Javier Baez is coming off a breakout season , becoming one of baseball's biggest stars. The slugger hit .290 with 34 homers and an NL-high 111 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense all around the infield. Producing a similar year could be a tough task