Cubs, White Sox prepare for 2023 season


AP Photo | Matt York

Chicago White Sox Andrew Benintendi is tagged out at the plate by Chicago Cubs catcher Tucker Barnhart while trying to score on a base hit by Yasmani Grandal during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 10, 2023, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

By Zachary Bertram, Sports Reporter

The start of the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season is just around the corner, as the White Sox and Cubs begin their regular season March 30. The White Sox open up their season in Houston with a four-game series against the defending champion Astros. The Cubs kick off their season with a three-game set at home against the division rival Milwaukee Brewers. Both teams will look to improve upon their 2022 seasons. 

After winning the American League Central division in 2021, the White Sox were heavily favored to do so again in 2022, but failed to meet expectations. They finished second in the division with an 81-81 record. With new manager Pedro Grifol at the helm, the White Sox look to bounce back to their 2021 form. 

The Cubs – coming off of a 74-88 record in 2022 – did not have the high expectations that the White Sox had last year. After trading away key pieces from their 2016 championship team such as Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant at the 2021 trade deadline, the Cubs began to rebuild. Two years later, the Cubs are expected to be more competitive. 

While both teams made plenty of off-season moves for players with playoff experience, they each lost longtime franchise icons in free-agency. The White Sox said goodbye to three-time All-Star and 2020 AL MVP first baseman Jose Abreu, who signed with the Astros. The Cubs bid farewell to three-time All-Star and 2016 World Series champion catcher Willson Contreras, who signed with the division rival St. Louis Cardinals.


Additions: Andrew Benintendi LF, Mike Clevinger RHP, Elvis Andrus 2B/SS

Subtractions: Jose Abreu 1B, Josh Harrison 2B, A.J. Pollock OF, Johnny Cueto RHP

The White Sox got some much-needed outfield help, signing 2022 All-Star and Gold Glover Andrew Benintendi to a five-year $75 million deal – the largest in team history. Benintendi is coming off a career year in 2022, in which he posted a career-high .304 batting average and a career-high .373 on base percentage. Last season Benintendi split time between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees. With outfielders such as Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez frequently missing games over the last two years, Benintendi provides stability and experience in the outfield. Robert missed 158 games over the last two seasons while Jimenez missed 185. Benintendi’s signing should also allow first basemen Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets to return to their natural positions after having to take over in the outfield over the last two years, due to injuries.

Mike Clevinger signed with the White Sox on a one-year $8 million deal after spending the last three seasons with the San Diego Padres. He is expected to replace starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who signed with the Miami Marlins in free-agency. Clevinger will be the number five starter behind Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech. The White Sox are hoping Clevinger can regain his 2019 form, when he went 13-4 with a 2.71 ERA with the Cleveland Guardians. 

Elvis Andrus elected to test free agency after the 2022 season, but re-signed with the White Sox on a one-year $3 million deal. Andrus was a key piece to bring back for the Sox, replacing second baseman Josh Harrison – who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in the off-season. After being released by the Oakland Athletics midway through the 2022 season, the White Sox signed Andrus to fill in at shortstop while starter Tim Anderson was injured. With Anderson healthy for the start of the 2023 season, Andrus will slide over to second base to form the middle infield duo for the White Sox. 


Additions: Dansby Swanson SS, Cody Bellinger CF/1B, Jameson Taillon RHP, Trey Mancini 1B/DH, Tucker Barnhart C, Eric Hosmer 1B

Subtractions: Willson Contreras C, Jason Heyward OF, Franmil Reyes DH, Wade Miley LHP

The Cubs signed Dansby Swanson to a massive seven-year, $177 million contract to be their shortstop of the future. With the signing of Swanson, last season’s starting shortstop Nico Hoerner is expected to move over to second base. Swanson won the World Series with the Atlanta Braves in 2021 and is coming off a career year in 2022 in which he started all 162 games, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 96 runs. Swanson was also named an All-Star for the first time in 2022 and won his first Gold Glove award. 

Cody Bellinger signed a one-year $17.5 million deal with the Cubs after six years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Because it’s just a one-year contract, it is a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Cubs. Bellinger burst onto the MLB scene in 2017, winning NL Rookie of the Year, 2018 NLCS MVP and 2019 NL MVP in his first three seasons. Bellinger regressed mightily during his final two seasons in Los Angeles. With the new defensive shift-ban rules in MLB, Bellinger is a strong candidate to have a bounce back season at the plate. While Bellinger is a superb glove at first base or in the outfield – winning a Gold Glove in 2019 – he is expected to start in center field for the Cubs. 

The Cubs signed pitcher Jameson Taillon to a four-year $68 million deal in hopes of shoring up their starting pitching rotation. Taillon will replace Wade Miley and will likely be the number two starter on a staff which also features Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks and Drew Smyly. Taillon is coming off a strong year with the Yankees in which he went 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA and struck out 151 batters. 

Trey Mancini heads to the Cubs on a two-year, $14 million deal. He is expected to start at first base, taking over for Alfonso Rivas. Rivas started 73 games at first base last year, the most for the Cubs. Mancini split time between the Baltimore Orioles and the Astros last season and was a member of the Astros’ 2022 World Series championship team. Mancini will look to add some power to the Cubs lineup as his best season included hitting 35 home runs and driving in 97 runs with Baltimore in 2019.