Paul Beaty/Associated Press
It's been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series. If they have anything to say about it, the counter will not reach 109.
The Cubs were one of the big success stories in 2015, as they shook off their rebuild with a 97-win season that ultimately put them in the National League Championship Series. They could have done nothing this winter and still walked into 2016 as a heavy World Series favorite.
Instead, the Cubs flexed their financial muscle and added Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey. With the three of them aboard, a roster that was already excellent now looks pretty close to flawless.
Thanks to guys like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs lineup already had plenty of power. With Heyward and Zobrist up top, it now has two hitters who can draw walks and put the ball in play, which will help balance out all the strikeouts. And though he's a right fielder by trade, Heyward should be a defensive upgrade over what the Cubs had in center field last year.
As for Lackey, he's joining a rotation that already had National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and crafty left-hander Jon Lester. The Cubs now have one of baseball's top rotation trios, and Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks make for a pretty good back end.
The Cubs bullpen, meanwhile, was quietly elite in 2015. And for 2016, everyone is back.
We can stop short of calling the Cubs flawless. Heyward likely won't be getting much help on defense from Schwarber and Jorge Soler, the latter of whom has much to prove going into 2016. It also looks like Javier Baez is going to play a superulitity role, which may not work out.
But as far as complaints go, these are minor. The truth is the Cubs are absolutely loaded, and nobody should be surprised if they tear their way through both the regular season and the postseason.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.