3 pending free agents the Chicago Cubs need to let walk

Looking over the list of pending Chicago Cubs free agents and determining three players the team needs to let walk this offseason.
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3 pending free agents to let walk - 1. Kyle Hendricks

First, I don't want to see Hendricks walk should the Cubs not pick up his club option for 16.0M in 2024, but it makes the most sense for the team at this juncture. Hendricks is enjoying a fine season where he has posted a 3.71 ERA (3.90 FIP), but that mark is still under his career average, a trend that has continued over the past three seasons. The bigger picture isn't so much that Hendricks has underperformed this season but more that the Cubs already have pieces in their rotation and need as much room for improvement as possible.

Considering that Marcus Stroman has played himself into picking up his player option for 2024 and running it back with the Cubs to prove himself worthy of a bigger payday, he will lock up a spot in the rotation next season. Elsewhere, you have Justin Steele. Jordan Wicks, who needs to be unleashed in 2024. Javier Assad, who has proven himself worthy, and Jameson Taillon, already commanding spots. Taillon's underwhelming performance in 2023 is a headache for the front office in itself, and the front office will probably give him another chance to redeem himself. However, there's also the chance he's moved to a bulk role if it simply doesn't work out.

What this means for the Cubs and Hendricks is that the team needs another starter who can dominate toward the top of the rotation. If the Cubs resign Cody Bellinger and Jeimer Candelario, they will need as many free agent dollars as possible to get an ace-caliber arm in free agency. Considering the Cubs also want to see more guys from the farm, such as Ben Brown and Cade Horton, make it to the rotation before long, it also creates a log jam by keeping Hendricks.

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