The Chicago Cubs are expected to address their need for starting pitching this off-season but that is with the thought that veteran starting pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Marcus Stroman will be back with the team for the 2024 season.
The Cubs will need to decide whether or not to pick up Hendricks' $16.5MM option for next season while Stroman will decide whether or not to exercise his $21MM player option for 2024. The belief is that both options will be picked up and more confirmation of that idea was provided by Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.
"The operating assumption is that the one-year option will happen for Hendricks, who posted a 3.74 ERA in 24 starts and will be 34 next season. Another expectation is that Marcus Stroman, 32, will choose to take a $21 million salary next year rather than opt out of his contract to explore free agency after an injury-plagued second half. That is a good place to start."- The Athletic
There certainly are question marks surrounding the returns of Hendricks and Stroman to the Cubs' rotation next season. While Hendricks mostly was impressive this season in his return from right-shoulder surgery, with 3.81 FIP in 137 innings pitched, the Cubs were forced to be strategic with how they utilized Hendricks down the stretch last season as the team opted to skip his turn in the rotation against offensive-dominant teams such as the Atlanta Braves.
Meanwhile, Stroman struggled during the second half of the season with an 8.63 ERA in 24 innings pitched. For the Cubs, the hope is the blister on his pitching hand and consequent rib injury were the factors that led to his struggles during the second half of the season.
The return of Hendricks and Stroman to the Cubs' pitching staff next season won't take the team out of the market for a starting pitcher this off-season. The Major League Baseball post-season has shown the importance of having dominant starting pitching at the top of a rotation and that is one of the reasons why the Cubs likely will have an eye on Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola.