Last but not least, the other Cubbie ace
It remains to be seen just how far the Cubs are going to go with rebuilding their roster. If they choose to tear things down to the studs, then the Blue Jays should be all-in on chasing Kyle Hendricks.
The 31-year-old has been a steady ace in Chicago for the better part of seven years, posting a career record of 69-48 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP. Oddly enough he’s never been an All-Star, but he finished as high as third in NL Cy Young voting in 2016, and he continues to pitch at an elite level. During the shortened 2020 season, Hendricks had a 2.88 ERA and a 0.996 WHIP across 12 starts an 81.1 innings.
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The Cubs may choose to keep Hendricks for a variety of reasons. He’s still an ace calibre performer, and he’s under contract for four more years at an affordable rate. He’ll receive 14 million per season from 2021-23, and then the Cubs hold a club option for 2024 at 16 million, which is a bargain for a pitcher of his ilk.
Because he’s young and cheaper than Darvish, and with an extra year of contract control, I can’t imagine the Cubs will trade him unless they get what they view as a fair return. The good news is the Blue Jays have an elite farm system, and several worthy prospects that could catch the Cubs’ attention. They could also dangle someone like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., whose name has come up several times on the rumour mill this winter.
As I’ve said many times, we don’t yet know how far the Cubs will take their latest rebuild, and if they’ll even consider trading Hendricks. However, if they’re open to the idea, then the veteran could be an excellent solution to the Blue Jays’ need in the rotation. His skill set as a finesse pitcher should age well as he enters his thirties, and he’s a good bet to maintain his value through the four years remaining on his contract. He also has some playoff success on his resume, and that experience could come in handy over the next few years.
Things have certainly gotten a lot more interesting with the MLB hot stove over the last few days, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that continued this week. Hopefully the Blue Jays can jump into the mix, and if the Cubs are ready to sell Yu Darvish for a bargain deal, Atkins would be wise to call about these five players, and probably a few more too.