The final day of the season offered little of note as the Cubs fell quietly to the Brewers with neither team having anything other than pride on the line. And when you lose 15 of your last 22 games, there’s not necessarily a deep reservoir of pride to draw from. This team showed flashes, though, and it’s easy to see how an aggressive offseason will position the Cubs to compete in a meaningful way next year.
“I don’t think that we want to start calling seasons we don’t make the playoffs good seasons,” team chairman Tom Ricketts shared during the Marquee broadcast. “That’s a consolation prize and we don’t play for consolation prizes. That said, there were some great moments, some great performances, a lot of excitement.”
Most of that excitement came in the back half of July and pretty much all of August as the Cubs looked like one of the best teams in baseball for several weeks. That all fell apart in September as injuries exposed depth issues, forcing moves to be made out of necessity. However, those who are hoping the late-season collapse exposed David Ross as overmatched tactically may be in for disappointment.
“Rossy had a great season,” Ricketts said. “The players play hard for him. He’s our guy.”
The chairman was seen chatting with Cody Bellinger in the clubhouse prior to the game, perhaps about opening up the checkbook for him this winter. Ricketts noted publicly that the Cubs would obviously love to have Bellinger back, though he tempered that with an oft-repeated organizational preference to avoid exceptionally long-term contracts of 10 or 11 years.
It’s hard to imagine Bellinger getting anything of that length from another team, but there is a sense that his resurgent season could trigger a massive payday in what figures to be a relatively thin market for high-end hitters. Unless they’re willing to swim in the deepest financial waters, the Cubs may have to hope Bellinger loves the vibes and Wrigley’s proximity to some great dispensaries.
Kyle Hendricks is another player whose future with the Cubs is in flux, though his return on a $16.5 million team option is going to be far easier to facilitate. One complicating issue could be Marcus Stroman‘s presumed decision to stick around for the third year of his deal rather than opting for free agency, which could put the front office into a position of either/or. Unless, of course, Jed Hoyer looks to deal Stroman.
Anyway, back to Hendricks. Ricketts said that decision will be completely up to Hoyer, but that “at this point, I would see him coming back.” It’s entirely possible that’s nothing more than lip service for the fans watching the game, so I think it’s best to take that with a grain or three of salt. On the other hand, it could be a strong hint that ownership is plenty willing to spend what it’ll take to win next year.
There’s a lot more I could probably parse and rehash, but I think it’s time to let things breathe for a while before digging in further. Thanks to everyone for following along these last several months, and maybe years, you’re the reason we do this.