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Offseason checklist: Cubs' needs and moves

@MLBastian
November 4, 2019

The Cubs' four-year streak of reaching the playoffs -- a run that included winning the World Series in 2016 -- came to an end this past season. With a new manager installed in David Ross, Chicago has an important offseason at hand. So what are the Cubs' biggest needs entering

The Cubs' four-year streak of reaching the playoffs -- a run that included winning the World Series in 2016 -- came to an end this past season. With a new manager installed in David Ross, Chicago has an important offseason at hand.

So what are the Cubs' biggest needs entering 2020, and what moves have they made to address them? MLB.com is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Starting pitching
There will be a hole in the Cubs' rotation with veteran lefty Cole Hamels reaching free agency this offseason. Tyler Chatwood, Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills offer internal depth options, but it's more likely that the Cubs -- in win-now mode -- will look to fortify their starting staff via outside help.

New skipper Ross 'perfect' choice to lead Cubs

Bullpen depth
A trio of veteran Cubs setup men hit the open market -- Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler. While some younger arms (such as Rowan Wick and Brad Wieck) earned trust down the stretch, adding veteran help in front of closer Craig Kimbrel is on Chicago's wish list this offseason.

Solving second
The Cubs had a revolving door at second in 2019 and managed an 81 wRC+ out of the position. Rookie Nico Hoerner could be an option for ’20, and there are plenty of other in-house possibilities. What Chicago lacks, however, is a slam-dunk answer, so strengthening second remains on the list of needs.

Sorting out center
The Cubs produced an 87 wRC+ out of their center fielders in 2019. Internally, they could stick with a combination of players for that spot. Or, if the Cubs target a corner outfielder via trade or free agency, Jason Heyward could move up the middle. One way or another, this is a position in need of addressing.

Five questions facing Cubs this offseason

MOVES MADE

Oct. 31: Eight file for free agency
One day after the World Series ended, the Cubs saw Nicholas Castellanos, Xavier Cedeño, Jonathan Lucroy, Ben Zobrist, Cishek, Hamels, Kintzler and Strop all file for free agency. Castellanos makes the most sense for Chicago to try to re-sign, but the outfielder will try to capitalize on his breakout 2019 campaign with a lucrative multiyear contract.

Nov. 2: Quintana stays; Holland hits free agency
The Cubs picked up the $10.5 million team option for left-hander José Quintana, who went 13-9 with a 4.68 ERA in 32 outings last season. Chicago also declined the $7 million team option for lefty reliever Derek Holland, who had a 6.08 ERA in 51 games with the Cubs and Giants in '19. Holland, who will receive a $500,000 buyout, was used mostly as a lefty specialist, holding left-handed batters to a .192/.286/.242 slash line last year.

Nov. 4: Rizzo's option exercised
In what could hold up as the least surprising decision of the Cubs' offseason, Chicago picked up the $16.5 million team option for first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Last season, Rizzo hit .293/.405/.520 with 27 homers, 29 doubles, 89 runs and 94 RBIs in 146 games. A handful of injury setbacks cost him a shot at his fourth season with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

Nov. 4: Four team options declined
The Cubs declined a $12 million team option for Brandon Morrow ($3 million buyout), a $5 million team option for David Phelps, a $3 million team option for Kendall Graveman and a $3 million team option for Tony Barnette. All four players will join the free-agent pool.

Nov. 4: Rea joins 40-man roster; Webster outrighted
The Cubs selected the contract of righty Colin Rea, who went 14-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 148 innings for Triple-A Iowa last season. The 29-year-old Rea gives the Cubs an additional layer of rotation depth for the Major League staff. Righty Allen Webster, who was on the 60-day injured list after sustaining radial nerve inflammation last season, was sent outright to Triple-A Iowa, removing him from the 40-man roster.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.