MILWAUKEE — As the sun set on the Cubs’ 2023 season, right-hander Kyle Hendricks also finished the last year of the four-year extension he signed in 2019. But he has a pre-bonus $16 million team option for 2024.
“I love Chicago so much,” Hendricks said Sunday. “I really hope to be a part of this group specifically, and going forward with them. Whatever is going to happen is going to be right, no matter what it is.”
The Cubs were already expected to bring back Hendricks for next year before chairman Tom Ricketts held court at American Family Field on Sunday and all but confirmed the club’s intention to make Hendricks a Cub for at least one more season.
“One of the great stories of the summer was his return to be as effective of a starting pitcher as — not quite 2016 Kyle Hendricks, but still very effective. It’ll be [president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer’s] decision on what to do with Kyle’s contract, but, at this point, I would see him coming back.”
The rotation is set to remain largely intact for next year. The other question mark is Marcus Stroman, who could opt out after this season.
Early in the season, when Stroman got off to one of the best starts of any pitcher in the league, he was expected to choose free agency this winter. But the hip and rib cartilage injuries that kept him sidelined for about a month and a half gave Stroman another factor to weigh in his decision.
“We’ll see what happens with Stro,” manager David Ross said. “Hopefully he’s back and the version that we got early on. What he’s capable of, we all know and have seen.”
The Cubs (83-78) finished the season one game out of the last National League wild card spot. The Phillies (90-72), Marlins (84-77) and Diamondbacks (84-78) claimed the three spots.
It was a heated race between the Cubs, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Reds for those last two spots. The Cubs played 11 one-run games against those other three teams this season. They lost every one of them.
And If the Cubs had swept the Brewers this weekend, they would have jumped Arizona.
“Obviously disappointing not to play in October,” left fielder Ian Happ said. “It’s tough. And a tough couple weeks, that was a slow bleed, that hurt. But you’ve got to take as many of the positives as you can moving into the offseason and next year.”
The Cubs made a flurry of moves before the season finale to give many of their regulars a rest. The Cubs selected pitchers Shane Greene and Tyler Duffey, and recalled infielder Jared Young.
To make room for the trio on the active and 40-man rosters, the Cubs put second baseman Nico Hoerner (bruised left knee) on the 10-day IL, optioned pitchers Hayden Wesneski and Jordan Wicks, and transferred Michael Fulmer (strained right forearm) and Nick Madrigal (strained right hamstring) to the 60-day IL.
Lefty Justin Steele was originally scheduled to start Sunday, but with the Cubs eliminated from playoff contention, Drew Smyly took the mound instead.