(Charles LeClaire - USA Today: Sports)
2016 Record: 103-58, 1st in the NL Central
Key Additions: CP Wade Davis, OF Jon Jay, SP Brett Anderson, RHP Koji Uehara
Key Subtractions: C David Ross*, CF Dexter Fowler, CP Aroldis Chapman, RHP Joe Smith, OF Jorge Soler
X-Factor: Wade Davis
"The Cubs have finally won it all!" That call by Joe Buck at the end of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will go down in baseball history forever, as it marked the end of a 108-year championship drought for the Chicago Cubs. It is also no surprise that the Cubs are the odds-on favorite to repeat as World Champions here in 2017.
One thing that brought the Cubs together in 2016 was their team chemistry, led by now-retired catcher, David Ross. Ross wasn't a great player, but he was loved deeply in that Cubs clubhouse, specifically by Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Rossy was also the personal catcher of Cubs ace, Jon Lester. In terms of production, the Cubs won't necessarily miss that, but they'll definitely miss the leadership.
The Cubs also let Aroldis Chapman go this offseason, as he signed with the New York Yankees. As a result of Chapman leaving, the Cubs went out and traded Jorge Soler to the Royals for All-Star closer, Wade Davis. Davis, 31, is coming off a year where he converted 27/30 saves and had a dominant 1.87 ERA. But, the 6'5" closer is also coming off a season where he had two DL stints due to a couple of injuries to his forearm, which should be something to pay attention to this Spring. His production is going to be HUGE if the Cubs want to repeat as Champs in 2017.
Record Prediction: 99-63
The Cubs, on paper, are still the best team in all of baseball. They are shaping up to be a dynasty for the next 5+ years. However, losing David Ross, albeit he wasn't a great player, is HUGE when it came to team chemistry. Combine that with the loss of Fowler and the questions remaining about Jason Heyward and his offense, and I expect a little bit of a step back. Obviously not a ton, but that should result in a few less wins for the Cubbies.