Early in November, ZiPS startled Cubs fans by projecting only 87 wins for the defending NL Central champs in 2018. This, of course, was an incomplete view because of looming free agents and voids that would inevitably be filled. Now that the Cubs front office has inked Tyler Chatwood and Brandon Morrow to multi-year deals, their win projections will rise accordingly.
Full ZiPS projections haven’t been released yet, but Steamer’s estimates are readily available on FanGraphs. According to one of the most historically accurate computer models, Chatwood and Morrow will add 3 fWAR to the Cubs’ depth chart, pushing the entire roster to a 93-win projection.
Steamer specifically believes Chatwood will pitch 137 innings of 4.23 FIP ball (1.9 fWAR) while Morrow will put up a 3.64 FIP over 65 innings (1.1 fWAR).
If the Cubs were to open the 2018 tomorrow, they would be project as the third-best team in MLB according to Steamer’s team WAR. Only last year’s league champions, the Dodgers and Astros, are forecast for more team WAR (50.7 and 48.0, respectively) than the Cubs (47.6).
That’s not bad for a team that isn’t nearly done filling needs. Many believe the 2016 World Series champions will still be adding another late-inning reliever and Alex Cobb continues to be connected to the Northsiders.