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Max Rosenfeld

Max Rosenfeld Previews the NL Central

First: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs were the hottest story in baseball last season and are primed to be the headliners once again in 2017. Only now, the narrative is different: can the Cubs repeat as World Series champions? They certainly have all the tools to do so with the most talented roster in the Major Leagues.

Second: Pittsburgh Pirates

Former MVP Andrew McCutchen will move to right field this season, making way for Starling Marte to become the everyday center fielder. McCutchen has handled the downgrade with aplomb, saying that he is happy to remain a Pirate. It will be interesting to see if McCutchen remains satisfied if the Pirates fail to contend for a Wild Card berth.

Third: St. Louis Cardinals

Losing pitching phenom Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery is a massive blow to the Cardinals’ chances. The team is not equipped to deal with injury- they are young and inexperienced. Will the Cardinals, the class of the National League, miss the postseason for the second straight season?

Fourth: Cincinnati Reds

Trading Brandon Phillips (finally) was a sign of the times for the Reds. In a division that is clearly un-winnable in 2017, Cincinnati has their eyes placed firmly on the future. If they can find a suitor willing to swallow his contract, could Joey Votto be the next star shipped out of town?

Fifth: Milwaukee Brewers

It only seems logical to assume that Ryan Braun will warrant heavy trade attention throughout the season. As the Brewers struggle, this talk will intensify. Shortstop Orlando Arcia aims to live up to the massive expectations for which he failed to realize in 2016, during which be posted a .219 batting average.

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Max is a student at Saint Joseph's University where he is a Communication Studies major. He is a contributing writer for Baseknock MLB and the host of the Payoff Pitch Podcast, which airs every Tuesday morning.

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