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Cubs pick up options on Kyle Hendricks, Yan Gomes

8 months agoAndy Martinez

A pair of battery mates are returning in 2024.

The Cubs picked up their team options on pitcher Kyle Hendricks and Yan Gomes. Hendricks is the longest tenured Cub and the lone member of the 2016 World Series champion team on the roster. Gomes, signed ahead of the 2022 season had a solid campaign in 2023.

“Obviously not gonna negotiate anything with you guys right now but certainly we want to keep [Hendricks] as a Cub for next year and beyond,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said at his end-of-season press conference.

Just a year ago, Hendricks’ team option wasn’t a foregone conclusion to be picked up. Hendricks missed most of the 2022 season with a capsular tear in his right shoulder. He started this season the IL and then returned and looked like vintage Hendricks, posting a 3.74 ERA in 24 starts and establishing himself as a stabilizing force in the Cubs’ rotation.

“It was really impressive to watch,” Hoyer said. “He worked on his velocity a lot, his arm strength, even touching some 90s in his last outing. He really had an exceptional year given what we were expecting.”

His return gives the Cubs a solid base to their 2024 rotation. Justin Steele emerged as an ace in 2023, Jameson Taillon ended his season on a strong note and Hendricks’ return adds another solid piece. Marcus Stroman’s opt-out leaves probably two openings in the 5-man rotation, but there’s some in-house candidates for those roles.

Drew Smyly was a solid starter to open the 2023 campaign and has a player option he is likely to pick up. Jordan Wicks debuted this season and should be in the conversation in Spring Training. Javier Assad made 10 starts and posted a 3.05 ERA in 109.1 innings. Hayden Wesneski opened the season in the rotation and prospects Ben Brown and Cade Horton could be in the mix, too.

The Cubs could go to a rather deep free agent market to bolster it, too. Stroman, Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Nola, Blake Snell and Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto are just some of the names available this winter.

Whatever the rotation looks like, they’ll have a proven, veteran backstop to work with next season. Gomes was lauded for his game preparation and management of the pitching staff.

“I know that the coaching staff views him almost as a player-coach in the way that he is,” Hoyer said. “He sees things as a veteran, he sees things because he’s really thoughtful that oftentimes players would miss and so he’s a favorite among the players. He’s a favorite on the coaching staff for a reason.”

He contributed plenty with the bat, too. Gomes had a .723 OPS, his highest in a full season since his All-Star campaign in 2018 with Cleveland. He knocked in 63 RBI and, partnered with second-year catcher Miguel Amaya, should give the Cubs stability behind the dish.

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