3 players who don't deserve to be back - 2. Drew Smyly
Drew Smyly starting the year in the starting rotation and finishing in the bullpen already signals the confidence the Cubs front office has in him. Smyly finished with a 5.00 ERA for the year, which is .67 points below the league average. Granted, the Cubs had good reason to bring Smyly back in 2023 after posting a 3.47 ERA the previous year, but this season wound up being his worst since 2019. With the Cubs looking to contend next season earnestly, they can ill afford to be wasting spots on players who can't bring their A-game to the table night in and night out.
The Cubs' bullpen was worn down to a nub at the end of 2023, even though Smyly posted an ERA of 2.52 as a reliever. That sample size was just 28.2 IP; a few bad outings out of the pen would have drastically inflated that sparkly number. I'm not sold on saying that Smyly automatically deserves a roster spot next season. He will have to prove himself still worthy in Spring Training. There are several directions the Cubs can go if he doesn't turn it around quickly.