Kyle Hendricks might not be as dominant as he was in 2016, when he quietly led all MLB starters in ERA and started both the pennant-clinching game in the NLCS and Game 7 of the World Series, but he's still one of the most reliable starters the Cubs have had in recent memory.
Chicago's heartbreaking loss to the Pirates on Thursday night featured plenty of culprits, from another shaky performance by the bullpen to uncharacteristically poor defense from Dansby Swanson and everything in between, but little blame can be dropped on the doorstep of Hendricks.
The veteran right-hander allowed just one earned run on seven hits over six innings of work, marking his 12th quality start of the season. His 3.66 ERA ranks nearly a full run better than the league average and it's hard to envision the Cubs going in a different direction next year.Cubs
"As long as Hendricks stays healthy, it looks like a foregone conclusion that the Cubs will pick up their $16.5 million option on his contract rather than pay him a $1.5 million buyout. In this scenario, Hendricks would gain no-trade rights around the 2024 All-Star break as a player with 10 years of major-league service time and the past five seasons with the same team."- Sahadev Sharma, The Athletic
Cubs should have a ton of starting pitching depth in 2024
In that same piece, Sharma says it seems 'highly likely' Marcus Stroman opts into his player option for next year. Second half struggles and a lengthy IL stint likely sapped him of any chance of landing the major payday he looked destined for heading into the All-Star break.
But with or without Stroman in the fold, the Cubs have a ton of options to round out the 2024 rotation. Hendricks would join Justin Steele, Javier Assad, Jordan Wicks, Jameson Taillon, Hayden Wesneski, Ben Brown and Cade Horton as possible rotation options, with the latter two knocking on the door in the minors.
This year marks Hendricks' tenth season in Chicago - and he's accomplished a lot in that decade. Now, he could have the chance to play a key role on another Cubs team that seems poised to make some noise and, who knows, maybe make another improbable October run in 2024.