While the focus has been on Chicago Cubs' All-Star left fielder Ian Happ as he enters the final year of team control before reaching free agency next offseason, there is another Cub that faces an uncertain future after the 2023 season. The lone holdout from the 2016 World Series team, starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks, is also entering what may be his final season with the Cubs. 2023 represents the final guaranteed year of Hendricks' contract with the Cubs as the team holds a $16MM club option for the 2024 season. While speaking with Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Hendricks stated his goal is to remain with the Cubs.
"“We’ve had so many good discussions,” Hendricks said. “They’ve been so good to me and so cool with me over all the years. We have such a good relationship. I appreciate everything they’ve done. It’s all out there. We know what it is. The bottom line is I just want to give quality (innings). I just want to get healthy and go in and (contribute). It helps so much with my focus being on the guys we got, the new faces on the team. I just want to be out there for my guys and be consistent every fifth day. By doing that — if I’m able to be who I am — then I think things will end up taking care of themselves after the season. “Obviously, the goal would be to stay here. I’ve loved everything about it. I would love to ride it out as long as I possibly can.”"- Kyle Hendricks via The Athletic
As Hendricks enters the 2023 season, there is a question mark after his name. Hendricks' 2022 season was cut short by a shoulder injury and there is a growing expectation that the veteran starting pitcher will not be ready by Opening Day. May seems to be the best target for when Hendricks will return but it is uncertain what pitcher he will be when healthy. If the 2022 struggles can be pushed to the side because of injuries, what about 2021? Major League Baseball has finally caught up to Hendricks after years of success throwing off the hitter's timing with movement instead of velocity. At this juncture, it would seem unlikely that Hendricks' option would be picked up for the 2024 season but success on the mound in 2023 could change that.