Chicago Cubs: Is it too early to worry about the 2020 bullpen?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

We haven’t yet opened the 2019 campaign, but I’m already worrying about the 2020 Chicago Cubs bullpen and the lack of solid options under team control.

Remember how concerned we were for years prior to three-fifths of the Chicago Cubs starting rotation (Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Jason Hammel) hitting free agency after the 2017 season? The bullpen is due to have even more potential turnover heading into next season.

At the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Brian Duensing, Brandon Kintzler and Xavier Cedeno will all be free agents. Brandon Morrow has a team option for 2020 with a $3 million buyout. Brad Brach has a $5 million option for 2020. Tony Barnette has a $3 million team option for 2020 if he makes the team in 2019.

That only leaves Mike Montgomery and Carl Edwards Jr. as pieces of the 2019 bullpen whose contracts assure they will be back in 2020. Montgomery is under team control via arbitration through 2021. The Cubs’ lanky right-hander, is under team control via arbitration through 2022. If Montgomery finally becomes a full-time starter in 2020, he obviously won’t be in the bullpen.

Tyler Chatwood has two years remaining on his contract (2019 and 2020). However, his role on the team and even if he will continue to be a member of the Cubs is perhaps the biggest question surrounding this year’s bullpen.