There are just three men left standing from the 2016 Cubs – four, I suppose, if you include manager David Ross. Right-fielder Jason Heyward, catcher Willson Contreras and right-hander Kyle Hendricks. But there’s a chance that by the end of the 2022 season, all three could be off the roster.
Heyward is coming off the worst season of his career and if he fails to rebound offensively, he may very well find himself designated for assignment, even with the Cubs planning a more limited role for the veteran. Contreras has been the focal point of offseason trade discussions and looks very likely to be moved sometime between now and July.
Which brings us to Hendricks, who is under team control through 2024. He’s not coming off a strong year by any measure, but if he bounces back and the team falters in the first half, a trade can’t be ruled out – something we talked about here earlier this week.
Now, MLB Trade Rumors seems to agree – at least to a degree – including Hendricks on a list of 27 ‘plausible’ trade candidates. You can check out the full piece on your own, but here’s a snippet of what they said about the right-hander.
"He’ll probably bounce back, even if he may never recapture his Cy Young-caliber, 2.13 ERA form from 2016. With the amount of teams on the hunt for starting pitching, there’d no doubt still be demand if the Cubs made Hendricks available. Will they? Perhaps, since they’re not likely to compete in 2022. Yet their early-offseason activity — signing Yan Gomesand Marcus Stroman, claiming Wade Miley — has suggested they may not be keen to punt next season entirely."
Just about everything that could’ve gone sideways for Hendricks last season, did. Strikeouts were down, walks and homers were up – and he finished the year with a 4.77 ERA and 4.89 FIP – both, by far, career-worsts. It’s safe to say there’s a lot riding on a rebound, of sorts, in 2022.
Of course, Hendricks is just one year removed from a brilliant, albeit shortened 2020 season, in which he finished ninth in National League Cy Young voting and really anchored the staff – as he has for much of the last decade. A rebound performance would undoubtedly help him re-establish his trade value, but, simultaneously, it would also go a long way toward solidifying the starting rotation in Chicago.