The time to trade Kyle Hendricks has long since passed for the Cubs

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs
San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

With just one guaranteed year remaining on the extension he signed with the Cubs prior to the 2019 season, Kyle Hendricks is hoping to return to form in 2023. The question, though, is whether he'll get that opportunity in a Cubs uniform or if he'll have a new home come Opening Day.

According to a new report, Hendricks has been made available by Chicago. Given his longevity with the team, that may, at first, come as a shock to some - but his complete ineffectiveness and injuries the last two years have made him near-impossible to rely on at this point.

Cubs would be foolish to trade Kyle Hendricks at this point

So if the Cubs are, indeed, shopping the 2016 MLB ERA leader, what exactly do they plan on getting in return? His 2022 season ended prematurely due to injury and he's still working his way back to a regular offseason regimen, with Chicago taking things slow with the right-hander. No team is giving you a substantive return on a pitcher like this, regardless of what he's done in the past.

From 2014 to 2020, Hendricks was quietly one of the most reliable pitchers in all of baseball. He made 175 appearances, working to a 3.12 ERA and racking up over 1,000 regular season innings. Not to mention he started the pennant-clinching game of the 2016 NLCS and the fateful Game 7 in Cleveland, establishing himself as a top-tier postseason presence.

But over the last two seasons, he's been anything but that guy for the Cubs - and it's left a gaping hole in the rotation. The addition of Jameson Taillon and bringing back Drew Smyly certainly improve the outlook for the staff, but adding an effective, healthy Hendricks to the mix would really elevate its standing.

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The gamble on his returning to form in a Cubs uniform and the potential payout far exceeds any sort of realistic trade return that might be possible this winter. Barring a blockbuster deal where Chicago needed to shave his $14 million salary off the books (which they shouldn't given the massive amount of money coming off the books after next season), the team is best served rolling the dice and hoping Hendricks can turn things around in 2023.