By: Alex Patt
The Chicago Cubs are going to have a busy offseason. There are a number of things that have to be addressed which include: starting pitching, bullpen and a leadoff hitter. There are a number of guys from last year’s team that are free agents now, with a few of them possibly coming back and some likely going elsewhere. Here is a list of who is a free agent and a prediction of their future.
Jake Arrieta – The biggest free agent from the Cubs last year by far. Arrieta had a rough first half, but pitched better in the second half. His total season numbers read as follows: 14-10, 3.53 ERA, 1.218 WHIP, 4.16 FIP, 163 strikeouts and a 1.9 bWAR. Arrieta will get a big payday, and at 31 years old it is probably unlikely the Cubs will pay up big bucks. He may get a 4-5 year deal with over $100 million from a team.
John Lackey – 39 year old starting pitcher who went 12-12 with a 4.59 ERA an 1.277 WHIP. He was a serviceable 5th starter in the second half of the year and pitched well on September 28th to help the Cubs clinch the division. He either will retire or go elsewhere.
Wade Davis – The lone All Star in 2017 broke the Cubs record for consecutive saves. He recorded a total of 32 saves pitching to a 2.30 ERA with 79 strikeouts and a 1.142 WHIP. The Cubs reportedly made a $17.4 million qualifying offer to Davis. The Cubs will definitely do what they can to try to get Davis back reasonably because he is one of the most reliable closers in baseball.
Jon Jay – Signed a one-year deal last year and had a very good year as a utility/bench guy. In 141 games he put up a .296/.374/.749 slash line and was consistently effective. He was a great veteran presence for Albert Almora Jr. last year and helped give the Cubs a leader in the clubhouse. While he is valuable, the outfield as it is is crowded and it may be time to turn the centerfield spot primarily to Almora. He may be back, but don’t be surprised if he isn’t.
Alex Avila – The veteran catcher came over at the trade deadline last year. He was having a career year offensively and was still a solid defensive backstop. Since Willson Contreras returned from injury late in the season, he was moved to a backup role the rest of the season. He will likely seek a decent deal with a starting role, so he will probably sign elsewhere.
Brian Duensing – One of the biggest surprises last year, the left-handed reliever pitched to a 2.74 ERA and 1.219 WHIP in 62.1 innings. Expect the Cubs to re-sign him.
Rene Rivera – Came over late last season. He is a very good defensive catcher and a great framer. He did a very good job with the Cubs pitching staff and even slashed .341/ .408/ .999 with two homers in 20 games. Cubs could benefit from bringing him back, he won’t cost a lot. Caratini has promise, but Rivera is a great veteran to have on the staff.
Koji Uehara – Going to be 43, showed massive decline throughout the season with some injures. Probably going to retire or sign a minor-league deal elsewhere.