Where are the 2016 Chicago Cubs now?
The 2016 Chicago Cubs made sports history, ending the longest championship drought in the history of Major League Baseball at the time. Over 5 million people attended the championship parade in downtown Chicago, celebrating the end of a one-hundred and eight-year World Series championship curse. For some scope, in 1908, the last year the Cubs won the World Series before 2016, the first man made it to the North Pole, Wilbur Wright flew for the first time in Europe, and William Howard Taft was elected as President of the United States.
But where is that historic 2016 team now? How has the team that ended the most notorious sports curse fare after achieving the unthinkable? Most of the players are no longer with the Cubs, so how have their baseball careers fared since leaving the Cubs?
Pitchers are often considered to be the most important position on the field, and a good starting rotation and bullpen are necessary to win a championship. A team’s offense can be carried by a few dominant players, but the pitchers must be solid up and down the lineup in order to win consistently.
Arietta had one of his best seasons in 2016, earning 18 wins and 8 losses in 31 games as a starter. He finished with a 3.10 ERA and started the second and sixth games of the world series against the Indians, earning a 2-0 record in the world series. Arrieta is a free agent now, being released by the Cubs after a disastrous 2021 season.
Chapman was acquired towards the end of the season and immediately became the closer for the Cubs, earning 16 saves in his 23 closing appearances. He finished the year with a 1.01 ERA and only 12 hits in 26.2 innings. Chapman also earned a save in Game 5 of the world series and even a win in Game 7, which went into extra innings. Chapman has been with the New York Yankees since leaving the Cubs and has made multiple deep playoff runs with them.
Hendricks had a phenomenal year in 2016, leading the MLB in ERA. He had a 2.13 ERA in 31 games started. He was the Cubs’ ace starter for the year and started during the world series in games 3 and 7. He gave up no runs in game 3 and one earned run in game 7. Hendricks and Lester were both finalists for the 2016 National League Cy Young Award, but were both beat out by Max Scherzer, then of the Washington Nationals. Hendricks is still with the Cubs and is one of the few remaining members of the 2016 World Series team.
Lackey had one of his best years in 2016, finishing with a 3.35 ERA over 29 starts. The cowboy hat-donning Lackey was very consistent throughout the season and started for the Cubs in game 4 of the world series, giving up three runs before being relieved by Mike Montgomery in the sixth inning. Lackey retired after the 2017 season.
Lester has always been a stellar pitcher but had one of his best seasons in 2016. He had such a good year that he was nominated for the National League Cy Young Award. He finished the season with a remarkably good 2.44 ERA in 32 games, the most games started of any Cubs pitcher. He started games 1 and 5 of the world series. He gave up 3 runs in game one and 2 runs in game five, garnering a 1-1 record in the world series. Lester left after the 2016 season and most recently played with the St. Louis Cardinals, helping them win the most consecutive games ever in the Major Leagues and qualify for the playoffs.
Mongomery was the sixth man of the starting pitching rotation for the Cubs, starting five games and also appearing as a reliever in 12. Montgomery had a very respectable ERA in 2016, being 2.82. However, his respectable ERA was over a limited number of innings, only 38 full innings. Montgomery has struggled to find work since his departure from the Cubs. He has opted to join the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization.
Strop had one of his better years in 2016. The fan-favorite Dominican donning a cockeyed hat pitched his way to a 2.85 season ERA over 47.1 innings. Strop has had a tough time trying to stay in the big leagues since his departure from the Cubs, and wound up in the Mexican League, playing for the Sultanes de Monterrey.
While pitchers are important to winning consistently, the offense and positional defense are very important as well. In today’s game, the offense is also highlighted as the star attraction, being exciting and drawing in the next generation of young fans.
In his rookie year, Contreras appeared in 76 games. He had a respectable .282 batting average and only struck out 67 times in 283 plate appearances. He finished with 12 home runs and 35 runs batted in. Contreras has remained with the Cubs since his rookie season in 2016.
The veteran Ross had an average campaign in his final season before retirement. He had a .229 batting average with 32 runs batted in and 10 homers during 67 games. Ross retired following the 2016 season and is now the Cubs manager.
Báez had quite a solid season, being a solid presence both offensively and defensively. He batted .273 and had 14 home runs and 59 runs batted in. He appeared in 142 total games over the course of the 2016 season. Báez was traded in 2021, where he had a somewhat tumultuous finish to the 2021 season. He is now a free agent.
In 2016, Bryant won National League MVP. Bryant played 155 games, hit .292 on the season, and had 102 runs batted in. Bryant led the Cubs with 39 home runs. Bryant was also traded in the middle of the 2021 campaign, being shipped to the San Francisco Giants, where he assisted in their MLB high final regular-season record. He is now a free agent.
If Bryant did not win NL MVP, Rizzo would almost certainly have. Rizzo also played in 155 games and batted .292, but he had 32 homers and 109 runs batted in. Rizzo was also traded away in the middle of 2021. He was sent to the Yankees, who made it to the ALCS this year, but fell to the Astros.
Russell played in 151 games, second only to the duo of Bryant and Rizzo. Russell hit .238 and had 21 home runs with 95 runs batted in. Russell also contributed greatly defensively. Russell had quite a bit of controversy surrounding his departure from the Cubs. Russell was found to have abused his ex-wife, and he did not even try to play any more Major League Baseball, opting instead to pursue a career in the Mexican League. He is currently with the Acereros de Monclova.
Zobrist won World Series MVP in 2016. He hit .272, had 94 runs, tied with Rizzo for second on the Cubs, and had a .386 on-base percentage, second only to Dexter Fowler on the Cubs. Zobrist retired after the 2019 season.
Fowler holds the noticeable distinction of being the first African-American to ever play for the Cubs in a world series, thanks to his leadoff spot in game one of 2016. The switch-hitting Fowler was a staple of the Cubs lineup in 2016, playing 125 games in the very deep outfield group. Fowler finished the year with a .393 on-base percentage, the highest on the Cubs, and 84 runs scored. Fowler did very well for the Cubs as the leadoff man. Fowler signed with the cardinals in 2017, and finished this past season with the Los Angeles Angels. He is a free agent this offseason.
Heyward is known more for his defense than his offense, but in 2016 he still put up respectable numbers. While playing in 142 games, the most of the Cubs outfielder core, Heyward racked up a .230 batting average and 11 stolen bases. Heyward is one of three remaining Cubs from the 2016 team, along with Contreras and Hendricks.
Schwarber was out for almost the entire 2016 season, suffering an injury in the fourth game of the season and remaining out until the world series against the Indians. However, he was a big part of the world series, stepping in at Designated Hitter, a position only used when playing away against the American League opponents. Schwarber came up with a double and multiple RBIs over the course of the series, getting big hits off of the utterly dominant Indians’ ace, Corey Kluber. Schwarber joined the Nationals after 2016, and this year helped the Boston Red Sox to a playoff spot.
Soler was another member of the deep Cubs outfielder group. He hit an alright .238, with a respectable .333 on-base percentage. Soler appeared in 86 games and had
31 RBIs on the season. Soler had a great year this year with the Atlanta Braves, winning World Series MVP.