Cubs will have free-agent holes to fill

October 31st, 2017

CHICAGO -- It will be a busy offseason for the Cubs, who not only have some holes in the roster to fill but also spots on manager Joe Maddon's coaching staff.

Chili Davis and Jim Hickey join Maddon as the new hitting and pitching coaches, respectively. Dave Martinez, who had been at Maddon's side since 2008 as his bench coach, was named manager of the Nationals.

Chicago repeated as National League Central champs and reached the postseason for the third straight year in 2017 only to lose to the Dodgers in five games in the NL Championship Series.

Free agents are now able to sign with a new team, so let the bidding begin. What's ahead for the Cubs?

Hot Stove tracker

Free agents: Righties , , and ; lefty ; outfielder ; catchers Alex Avila and .

Arbitration-eligible players: Righties , , and ; third baseman ; shortstop ; infielder .

Biggest potential free-agent loss

The Cubs don't have pitching depth in their system, and they will miss Arrieta, who was 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts over five seasons with the Cubs. One of the reasons they were eager to acquire is that he's under contract through 2019. Lackey, who turned 39 on Oct. 23, may retire. Davis was the Cubs' third closer in as many seasons, and he was nearly perfect with 32 saves in 33 chances. has been mentioned as a possible closer, but is he ready for the job in '18?

Potential free-agent targets

In a perfect world, Arrieta and Davis would return on team-friendly contracts. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has made it clear he'd like to have both back. But baseball is a business. The Cubs, loaded with young position players, will likely look at trade options more than the free agents on the market. Last December, they acquired Davis from the Royals for and signed free agents Jay, Duensing and Uehara. Could the Cubs pursue a high-priced free-agent pitcher? Said Epstein: "I wouldn't rule it out completely, and I wouldn't rule it in. I would just say it's not our preferred method."

Wild-card scenario

Is this the year the Cubs part with some of their young talent? When the Cubs were ousted from the postseason by the Dodgers, Epstein indicated that now may be the time to sacrifice some of their position-player depth to address the team's needs. Even though the Cubs have done well the past two seasons, there is still a budget and Epstein would prefer to not have to commit to a monster-sized contract for a free agent. Both and Russell are talented shortstops. Could the Cubs deal one of them?