Chicago Cubs: It’s time to start talking about a Kyle Hendricks extension

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Somewhere amid all the recent contract extension talks, the Chicago Cubs Kyle Hendricks is waiting for the recognition he deserves.

The St. Louis Cardinals recently made news by extending right-hander Miles Mikolas to a hefty four-year extension worth $68 million. Mikolas was the Cardinals most reliable pitcher down the stretch in 2018. It’s time for the Chicago Cubs to follow suit, and invest in their most valuable pitching asset.

While Mikolas looked great in 2018, he’s far from a sure thing. Last season was the first time Mikolas worked a full season in the United States, after pitching in Japan since 2015. Mikolas is set to begin his age-30 season for the red birds. Kyle Hendricks has been borderline dominant for a few years and is still 29-years-old.

Subtle success for Hendricks

When dissecting Hendricks’ track record, it seems unfair that the soft-tossing right-hander has to face arbitration year after year, while a guy like Mikolas receives a monster deal. But let’s set fairness aside, the Cubs need Hendricks as a centerpiece of their rotation for years to come.

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Since Hendricks broke into the league in 2014, he is 52-33 with a 3.07 ERA.  Those numbers aren’t just good; they’re right up there with aces throughout the league.

Over that span, Hendricks has displayed remarkable consistency, and given the Cubs some of the most clutch performances in franchise history. Hendricks started the clinching game in both the NLCS and World Series in 2016; the same year he led the MLB with a 2.13 ERA.

Hendricks hasn’t slowed down much, either. He has kept his ERA below 3.50 for the past two seasons and has maintained that there are still ways he can improve his game.

Lack of pitching

The Cubs lack promising pitching prospects throughout their organization. Adbert Alzolay remains the Cubs top pitching prospect. While talented, Alzolay has yet to prove that he can dominate in the minors.

The Cubs also suffer from an aging core of starting pitchers. In the group of Hendricks, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana, Hendricks would figure to be the only guy in the prime of his career.

Both Quintana and Hamels are entering the last year of their contracts, and will most likely be looking to sign deals elsewhere in 2020. Putting this all together leads to one glaring conclusion, now is the perfect time to lock up a reliable arm for the foreseeable future. Hendricks is that guy. He remains arbitration eligible after next season and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

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A Hendricks extension may not be the most eye-popping move for a Cubs team under the microscope after a lackluster winter, but it would be a necessary one. Hendricks has proven his worth time and time again, especially in the biggest stages. Around the league, teams are beginning to lock up their biggest contributors. It’s time for the Cubs to do the same and make Kyle Hendricks a Cub for a long time.