The Chicago Cubs debuted a brand new lineup with expensive shortstop Dansby Swanson in it.
Swanson struggled at times this spring, but claims he doesn’t feel the pressure of his seven-year, $177 million contract after leaving the Braves for the Cubs this winter. Dansby never received the interest he expected from Atlanta, the team he’s spent his entire professional career with, so he signed in Chicago where his wife Mallory Pugh plays professional soccer.
It’s was a match made in heaven, even if potentially Swanson’s second choice.
“Contract or not, I’ve always had a pressure on myself to perform,” Swanson said in spring training. “No one’s standards will outpace mine for myself and for our team, so the contract part is not something I really look at in terms of that kind of pressure. That’s just not me.”
Chicago Cubs Opening Day lineup: A breakdown
The Cubs Opening Day lineup is as follows:
- Nico Hoerner
- Dansby Swanson
- Ian Happ
- Cody Bellinger
- Trey Mancini
- Yan Gomes
- Eric Hosmer
- Patrick Wisdom
- Miles Mastrobuoni
Hoerner just signed a contract extension in Chicago a few days ago. He’ll be with the Cubs for at least the next three seasons, thus avoiding arbitration in the process. Swanson provides the necessary protection for Hoerner — a capable contact hitter — and fits in perfectly in the No. 2 slot.
Happ is familiar in the three-hole, but behind him is Bellinger, a former NL MVP who the Cubs hope will return to form away from the not-so-friendly confines of Los Angeles. Sometimes a change of scenery can do a player of that caliber some good. Bellinger looked good in spring training, as his bat speed and barrel rate increased from his 2022 numbers.
Mancini is also a new addition, though he struggled after the trade deadline, when he was dealt from Baltimore to the Houston Astros. Gomes is tasked with replacing Willson Contreras, which is easier said than done.
Hosmer, Wisdom and Mastrobuoni are relative weak spots in this lineup, though each offers some potential to provide baserunners and turn around the order.