Chicago Cubs: 3 moves to drastically improve the starting rotation

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Jon Gray / Chicago Cubs
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When we all look back on the 2021 season as Chicago Cubs fans, it’ll be the departures of beloved players like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez that sticks out in our memories.

And, sure, while the catastrophic losses the team suffered ahead of the trade deadline was a death sentence to any hopes of making a second-half run, the story of this club was already written – thanks to a dismal starting rotation. This staff wasn’t just bad – it was one of the worst in recent memory and remedying it is the top priority of Jed Hoyer and the front office.

With tens of millions of dollars to spend, it’s a safe bet this group will look wildly different when the team reports to Mesa next spring. Kyle Hendricks is pretty much the only guy you know is going to start next year. That’s not to say Adbert Alzolay, Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson and Alec Mills won’t be in the mix, because they will. But as we saw this year, it takes far more than five guys to fill out a rotation over the course of 162 games so there’s going to be plenty of new faces in the mix at camp.

Chicago Cubs: Jon Gray can solidify the middle of the rotation moving forward

Colorado Rockies right-hander Jon Gray hits the open market this winter at the age of 30 and coming off a fairly pedestrian 2021 campaign. He made 29 starts, working to a 4.22 FIP and 1.329 WHIP across 149 innings of work. That’s not to say he was bad by any means, but he’s definitely not the ace the Rockies hoped for when they drafted him with the third overall pick back in 2013.

According to the Denver Post, Gray turned down an extension offer late in the season – despite reportedly wanting to stay in Colorado. A trip into free agency could give him more leverage in talks with the Rockies or, as we’ve seen before, it could spell the end of his time with his former team.

That same report indicates he’s looking for a three or four-year deal in the $9 to $10 million AAV range. That’s a very palatable sum, especially for a large market team with money to spend such as the Cubs. Gray falls firmly into the category of realistic – and could help bring some consistency to the rotation.