predicts Cubs finish .500, 3rd in NL Central

·2 min read predicts Cubs finish .500, 3rd in NL Central originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Cubs reloaded in the offseason and are looking to return to the postseason in 2023. But will they?

Despite losing Willson Contreras to the in-division rival St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs added a ton of talent.

They signed one of the premier shortstops on the free agent market, Dansby Swanson. They signed former MVP and center fielder Cody Bellinger.

They added Trey Mancini, Eric Hosmer and catcher Tucker Barnhart too. They also added Jameson Taillon to the starting rotation.

Despite all that, prognostications of the 2023 season aren't being kind to the Cubs.

In his NL Central preview piece, Will Leitch predicts the Cubs will finish with a .500 record and in third-place in the division. He also has the Cardinals being a Wild Card team.

  1. Brewers: 88-74

  2. Cardinals: 87-75

  3. Cubs: 81-81

  4. Pirates: 68-94

  5. Reds: 66-96

The Cubs finished in third-place in 2022, so it wouldn't be a significant improvement. Though an 81-81 record would be an improvement over their 74-88 record in 2022.

Leitch wasn't impressed with their offseason, even if it appeased Cubs fans who have been frustrated with the front office's lack of spending in recent years.

"As many signings as there were, though, it’s tough to argue the Cubs added any superstars, even including Swanson, who was clearly fourth among the big four shortstops to hit the market," Leitch wrote. "This offense is clearly better. But is it by better enough?"

And he questions the long-term vision of the Cubs.

Ultimately, he thinks the Cubs will need some help along the way.

"To contend this year -- and really for the next couple of years -- they need the Cardinals and Brewers to stumble and they need to hope the Reds and Pirates don’t make a run with their young players," Leitch wrote. "The Cubs have some good prospects coming, but they’re hardly stacked like the Orioles.

"The Cubs have spent enough money this offseason to make it look like they are trying. But, you know, how hard?"

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