Chicago Cubs: Dusting off our overly-optimistic 2019 crystal ball

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs: The pitching staff gets a new ace

Theo Epstein loves Jon Lester and frankly, Jon has earned the right to get paid by the Cubs, even if he is beginning to show signs of diminishing returns. Kyle Hendricks is a Joe Maddon favorite and Joe has repeatedly proven through his statements that he is far less concerned about Hendrick’s up-and-down 2018 campaign than Cubs Nation is. He’ll be in the 2019 rotation.

Darvish – at $20 million-plus annually for five more seasons – is untradeable. Assuming he isn’t dealing with an as-yet undiagnosed arm issue (that would require surgery), he’s in the 2019 rotation. At just $10 million, Quintana’s option is very palatable for a starting pitcher of his upside.

This leaves four guys – Chatwood, Hamels, Mike Montgomery and Drew Smyly – to fill the one remaining starting slot. Hamels is a goner, the team will not carry a third twenty million dollar pitcher. Smyly will stay, but the team will not likely pin their hopes on his injury history, so his role is more likely one of a depth option at his $7 million price tag. Expect him to play the Monty role if Monty is not around.