CHICAGO -- In this offseason of expected change, the Cubs will be looking into how they can improve upon the team's veteran rotation. But before any trade talks or free-agent negotiations, Chicago had to make a call on José Quintana.
On Saturday night, the Cubs announced that they elected to pick up Quintana's team option for 2020, keeping him in the fold for $10.5 million. That course of action was expected, as was the Cubs' decision to decline the $7 million team option for lefty reliever Derek Holland.
A source told MLB.com on Sunday that, as expected, the Cubs exercised first baseman Anthony Rizzo's $16.5 million team option for 2020. The team has not commented on the move, which was first reported by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman and ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers. Chicago also has option decisions looming for Brandon Morrow, David Phelps, Tony Barnette and Kendall Graveman.
With Yu Darvish deciding earlier this week not to opt out of his contract, the Cubs' rotation currently projects to include Darvish, Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester. Veteran left-hander Cole Hamels became a free agent on Thursday, leaving a vacancy in Chicago's starting staff without a clear-cut favorite to grab that spot.
Tyler Chatwood, Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills are three internal options for the rotation at the moment.
"It's an accomplished and experienced group," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said at the end of the season. "But with the experience, we could stand to add some younger talent and refresh the group as well. We certainly need to add depth and we need to add some youth and a little bit of a different look to the staff as well as we look forward."
Last season, Quintana went 13-9 with a 4.68 ERA in 32 appearances (31 starts), racking up 152 strikeouts against 46 walks in 171 innings. The lefty, who will turn 31 in January, had his season line marred by a rough finish to the campaign. Quintana posted an 8.58 ERA in his final seven turns, following a nine-start stretch from June 29-Aug. 18 in which he went 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA.
Quintana -- acquired from the White Sox on July 13, 2017, in the five-player blockbuster that sent Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease to the South Side -- has gone 83-77 with a 3.72 ERA in 250 career games over eight seasons. While Quintana gives the Cubs a quality back-end starter, it is also possible that the team explores trading him this offseason.
The Cubs acquired the 33-year-old Holland from the Giants on July 26 in exchange for cash considerations, and they used him primarily as a lefty specialist.
On the season, Holland had a 6.08 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 45 walks in 51 games (84 1/3 innings) overall, holding lefty batters to a .192/.286/.242 slash line along the way. The .997 opponents' OPS he allowed to right-handed batters took a toll on his overall line.