Grading the Chicago Cubs front office at the season’s midway point

Nov 9, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer answers questions from the media during the MLB GM Meetings at The Conrad Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 9, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer answers questions from the media during the MLB GM Meetings at The Conrad Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dansby Swanson.  David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Dansby Swanson.  David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Free agency

Hoyer and Carter made a major play into free agency this past winter. They signed several name players, the most eye-catching of which was shortstop Dansby Swanson, late of Atlanta.

The Swanson signing has been a success. He’s only hitting .261, but he’s shown decent shortstop power and the expected solid defense as demonstrated by his remarkable +10 Defensive Runs Saved. In simple terms, Swanson has been worth one game to the Cubs with his glove alone. He’s carrying a +1.9 WAA.

The rest of the free agent picture is decidedly less sanguine. Cody Bellinger signed for one season, was out of the lineup with an injury, and has produced a +0.9 WAA. Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini were supposed to split time at first base, but both bombed. Hosmer was cut, Mancini’s time was reduced, and their combined -2.8 WAA has offset all the positive things Swanson and Bellinger have done.

Then there’s Jameson Taillon, who signed through 2026 after spending the past two seasons in the Bronx. Taillon has been a full-out disaster: he’s 2-6 with a 6.90 ERA in 13 starts and a -1.5 WAA. He must improve if the Cubs are to go anywhere.

Throw in eight or 10 smaller signings and the sum total of the free agent work of Carter and Hawkins to date is -1.8 games.

If the Cubs fall out of contention, those signings may well be the reason why.