They won 34 out of 60 games, won a division championship for the third time in five seasons, and they still have seven former All-Stars on their roster as they head into the winter.
But none of those numbers tells the story of the Cubs offseason and the uncertain math they face as they try to “thread the needle” — as team president Theo Epstein framed it — between trying to compete next year and reconstructing the next contending core, all while operating amid a time of pandemic-related economic distress.
Some of the numbers that do tell the story began to come into some fuzzy outline of focus with decisions made in recent days by the Cubs and other teams, offering at least a rough guide to some expectations this winter.
The overriding reality for the Cubs is that they've spent the last two seasons exceeding the luxury-tax thresholds with payrolls among the highest in the game — which backfired after a do-nothing winter last year when COVID-19 shut down the game in March and sent revenues tail-spinning.
More than 100 organization-wide layoffs later, as the virus rates surge again through most of the country, the Cubs head into what promises to be their most tumultuous offseason in recent memory.
Unable to reliably predict when a vaccine might be approved, much less widely available, and consequently what attendance and other revenue sources might look like in 2021, the only certainty is that the Cubs are in significant cost-cutting mode as Epstein enters the final year of his contract (and likely his tenure with the Cubs).
They have six players under contract, three key arbitration-eligible hitters under club control for one more year (Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber) and a two-time All-Star catcher (Willson Contreras) under club control for two more — any of whom could be gone by next spring if the Cubs can find a trade match.
With that in mind, at least seven numbers help serve as mile markers for the Cubs’ road map for the offseason: