2021 NL Central Preview
The NL Central had the most teams in the postseason in 2020 with four qualifying for October baseball. The lone team that did not make the postseason from that division was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who happened to win something else in the process: the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft.
With this division constantly making noise, the idea of a top dog in the NL Central is always changing, considering each team keeps knocking each other down to gain the crown.
As teams make a push to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy, others will look for prosperity in the future. Let’s break down each team in the NL Central.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have had depth for years now, making them a threat to fellow teams across the league. They’ve kept main pieces like pitcher Adam Wainwright and forever-young catcher Yadier Molina on one-year deals.
Alongside Wainwright, the Cardinals added more arm power in right-handed pitcher Johan Quezada in a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies. Quezada may not have gotten many starts or reps, but the potential is still there, as he gets to learn the ropes in the rotation next to aces like Wainwright and Jack Flaherty.
The big-name story for the team is their acquisition of third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Rockies. St. Louis got a star talent and $51 million in exchange for five low-tier players.
The Brewers have been trying to form a team around All-Star Christian Yelich to keep him in town. They have done that now.
It starts with infield acquisitions in second baseman Kolten Wong from the Cardinals and third baseman Travis Shaw. They both provide power in the batter’s box and great field play to complement the updated pitching roster of Jordan Zimmerman and Brett Anderson.
The Brewers struck gold when they signed outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to a two-year deal. This gives Yelich a weapon next to him in the outfield to create a lethal tandem custom-made for robbing baserunners of home runs.
Cincinnati made a push to be a threat to the division last season, as it snuck into the postseason and made a name for itself. The roster boasted confidence and elite-level pitching, powered by Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer.
With all their talent and leadership from longtime franchise player Joey Votto, the Reds missed out on the opportunity to keep their momentum going into the 2021 season, as they never re-signed Bauer. The 30-year-old ace now heads to the City of Angels to toss for the Dodgers.
The Cubs made some major moves in the offseason to keep the core parts of their 2016 World Series team together. Most notably, they locked up infielders Kris Bryant and Javier Baez to make one last push to the postseason.
Chicago does bring back a familiar face in pitcher Jake Arrieta. Arrieta was the ace in the Cubbies’ run to their first World Series since 1908, and the fans hope he can return to 2016 form.
The team had a major hit in the front office when general manager Theo Epstein stepped down. This is a huge blow to their front office, but he had to leave for the future success of the Chicago ballclub.
The Pirates made a team decision to blow up the organization and start from scratch. It starts with trades and releases of major key pieces to the core.
Pittsburgh sent first baseman Josh Bell to the Nationals, pitcher Jameson Taillon to the New York Yankees and pitcher Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres. In return, the team brought in third baseman Todd Frazier, moving Colin Moran to first base to fill in for Bell.
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.