When they Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings in one of the most memorable World Series Game 7's in recent history, they achieved a ton. Probably for Cubs fans, they finally broke the Billy Goat Curse. They gave their loyal fans the long awaited World Championship they have longed for for their entire lives, quite literally. The Cubs also broke the longest Championship drought by any major sports team that had been at 108 years (Cubs last won WS in 1908). Needless to say the Cubs got a lot off their metaphorical backs on that final out of Game 7. Now the question is, can the Cub defend their title in 2017?
Only two of the Cubs core players are set to become free agents this offseason, closer Aroldis Chapman and outfielder Dexter Fowler.
Despite his struggles in the postseason, Chapman was mostly dominant during his time with the Cubs. He had 16 saves and struck out 46 batters in just 26 2/3 innings. You can bet the interest level in him will be high during the off season. If the Cubs really want Chapman back, they could make a strong push, but they have other options.
Perhaps the biggest dilemma for the Cubs is whether to re-sign Dexter Fowler. The 30-year-old was a pretty consistent table setter all season. He played a near Gold-Glove level center field as well. Fowler is great for the clubhouse and team chemistry, but his strong campaign might make it hard for the Cubs to win a bidding war.
Another reason I like the Cubs next year is Jason Heyward. Heyward had a miserable year in 2016, however Heyward is a much better player than this and I cannot see him repeating his lackluster performance of 2016 in 2017.
All of the Cubs incredible starting pitching will be back, as well as stars Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez, just to name a few. These guys are all young and will only be better and stronger next year. Oh and did I mention the Cubs have the best President of Operations in the league in Theo Epstein.
So sure a few guys may leave, we already know David Ross is retiring, but the Cubs will also likely add a few strategic pieces to support their incredible talent of core players as well as to add to their bench.
It will be very tough for any team to take the Cubs title from them in 2017 in my opinion. Get ready Cubs fans, this could very well be the start of a very special few years.