Cubs know Kyle Hendricks is a total wildcard with new offseason program

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs
Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

Without overpowering velocity, Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks has made his living by keeping the ball on the ground and missing bats. That is, until the last two years, when he failed to do both of those things - resulting in the worst years of his nine-year big league career.

But after having his 2022 seaason cut short by injury, Hendricks is looking to re-invent himself this offseason, hoping to add some velocity back to his repetoire moving forward. Heading into the final guaranteed year of the four-year, $55.5 million extension he signed with the Cubs back in March 2019, there's a lot riding on him bouncing back next season.

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According to a new report from Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma over at The Athletic (subscription required), the right-hander will take a very new approach to his offseason training - and the front office knows there are no guarantees when it comes to what Hendricks will provide in 2023.

" There’s an acceptance that he’s a wild card. They’re looking at what he could give them — potentially a lot or a little — as a bonus."

Sahadev Sharma / Patrick Mooney

Hendricks was once the anchor in this rotation, but after the last two seasons, some of the shine has certainly wore off the former league ERA leader. Still just 33, you'd hope this guy still has plenty to offer on the mound. But his future on the North Side could very well be decided by what he brings to the table next year.

I'm not saying Hendricks won't put it back together, but expecting him to regain the dominance he displayed earlier in his career, particularly during the Cubs' 2016 World Series run, probably isn't the likeliest outcome. But adding a steady Hendricks into the rotation picture behind Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele

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Add in a potential major addition - perhaps someone along the lines of Kodai Senga - and the return of young arms like Hayden Wesneski and Keegan Thompson, and you can quickly see how this rotation could take shape. But the plan has to be to expect nothing from Hendricks and if you wind up getting a bounceback performance, there are a lot of ways to proceed from there.