Chicago Cubs: Five candidates to round out the starting rotation

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
1 of 6
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Four spots in the 2019 Chicago Cubs rotation appear locked. But that fifth spot could see a wide range of arms, from well-known to little recognized.

The Chicago Cubs are poised to at least kick the tires on plenty of big-name free agents during the upcoming offseason. Of course, this winter’s class is headlined by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, two big-time stars capable of completely altering any big league lineup.

Given how the team’s offense faded down the stretch, costing Chicago a shot at a third-straight NLCS appearance, I anticipate the bulk of the free agent spending to be dedicated to bats. That’s not to say the team won’t add pitching, but they’ve got plenty of depth – especially in the rotation.

Jon Lester remains the staff ace after yet another stellar showing in 2018. You can pencil in Kyle Hendricks right behind him, along with Jose Quintana. Yu Darvish should be at 100 percent heading into the spring, something we never could say this season. But how the team rounds out the staff remains to be seen.

Cole Hamels, acquired at the non-waiver deadline, pitched masterfully for the Cubs and has earned every right to return in 2019. But you never know how the winter will play out and it’s at least worth looking at some other arms who could, at least in theory, fill that void.