A look at what the Cubs have to do in the off-season
One year ago Thursday, the Chicago Cubs were busy quenching the longest major sports drought in American history by winning the World Series at Cleveland.
That party after winning the franchise's first world championship in 108 years set off a celebration the likes of which had not been seen around here for some time.
That, of course, led to the now-infamous "World Series hangover" that caused the Cubs headaches in the early and middle parts of the 2017 season. They eventually recovered and reached the National League championship series for a third straight year.
Now the Cubs face a sobering reality that they have plenty of work to do this off-season.
In the coming days, they're expected to formally announce that Jim Hickey will be their new pitching coach, replacing the fired Chris Bosio, who has since landed in Detroit. They also may have an announcement on a new bench coach to replace Dave Martinez, who was introduced Thursday as manager of the Washington Nationals.
More important, the Cubs will have several key vacancies to fill on their player roster. The players association made official Thursday that eight Cubs are free agents.
The biggest names are starting pitcher Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis. Others are outfielder Jon Jay, catchers Alex Avila and Rene Rivera and pitchers John Lackey, Brian Duensing and Koji Uehara.
The Cubs seem interested in bringing Arrieta and Davis back, but with pitching at a premium and other teams willing to spend, those two pitchers may want more than what the Cubs will offer.
During the NLCS at Los Angeles, Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, already was talking up Arrieta's overall record and his postseason performance, which includes 2 World Series victories and a win in this year's NLCS, which the Dodgers won in five games.
For his regular-season career, Arrieta is 88-56 with a 3.57 ERA, including 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in parts of five seasons with the Cubs, including his Cy Young season of 2015.
Davis saved 32 games for the Cubs his season, his third straight as an all-star.
Lackey is likely to retire, meaning the Cubs could have two spots open in a starting rotation that now features Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. One intriguing target could be Alex Cobb, a free agent who has pitched under Hickey at Tampa Bay.
But as Cubs president Theo Epstein has mentioned, the Cubs would like to have seven or eight starting candidates in the fold by the start of spring training in February. Those candidates figure to include swing man Mike Montgomery and pitchers from the Cubs' system.
The Cubs also have several important players eligible for salary arbitration, including Hendricks, third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Addison Russell.
Baseball's general-managers meetings are Nov. 13-16, and the winter meetings are Dec. 10-14.
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