Chicago Cubs: Which free agents should they look to bring back?

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs bullpen could potentially lose three of its biggest pieces to free agency this year, but there’s still a chance some of them could return in 2020.

The Chicago Cubs bullpen could look very different next year with the potential departure of key veterans Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler. Each of the three have provided the Cubs with quality innings either this year or in previous years, leaving the question of whether they will return up in the air.

Though Strop’s 2019 was anything but solid, he has been one of the cornerstones of the Cubs bullpen for years now. His ERA with the team sits at a 2.90 which, combined with his veteran presence, has made him invaluable to the Cubs during their championship window.

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Cishek, on the other hand, hasn’t been around the team near as long as Strop, but has been a workhorse in both of his years in Chicago. He held a solid 2.55 ERA across two years and 134 1/3 innings pitched, though his FIP with the team isn’t as kind to him at a 3.97.

Finally, there’s Kintzler who, despite struggling mightily in 2018, completely revitalized himself in 2019. “Salt” improved from a 7.00 ERA with the Cubs after the deadline in 2018 to a 2.68 with a 1.035 WHIP.

The team will still have closer Craig Kimbrel for the next couple of years at least, but past that are several young pitchers that still have something to prove and new vacancies needing filled. It doesn’t help that the potential free agents in 2019 aren’t much younger than Strop, Cishek, and Kintzler (34, 33, and 35).

If any of the three would be brought back, it’d likely be on a one-year deal, considering each has displayed some sign of shakiness in their times as Cubs. Strop and Cishek both feel like the likeliest candidates to return, considering their ability and, in the case of Strop, impact off of the field.

Strop’s struggles in 2019 likely mean he wouldn’t receive a big contract, but given his tenure with the team, it’s not unreasonable to see him as a potential bounce back candidate. Plus, his status as a veteran could be valuable for young relievers like Duane Underwood Jr. and Rowan Wick who look to be big parts of the bullpen in 2019.

Giving key Cubs their 2019 letter grades.. dark. Next

There’s still plenty of time for the Chicago Cubs to make a decision on these relievers or potentially make a trade for some strong bullpen pieces. Don’t be surprised, however, if the team tries to bring back at least some of their veteran arms for another go around in 2020.