With the end of the World Series Wednesday night, Thursday morning began the official offseason with 149 players becoming free agents as of 8 a.m. CT today (and more might be added to this list as options are declined).
Eight Cubs are now free agents, in alphabetical order: Jake Arrieta, Alex Avila, Wade Davis, Brian Duensing, Jon Jay, John Lackey, Rene Rivera and Koji Uehara.
Of those eight, three will almost certainly not be back: Lackey, who could retire; Rivera, who’s likely headed to another team as a backup; and Uehara, who if he doesn’t retire could go back to Japan to play.
Arrieta is another player who, it’s widely assumed, has played his last game for the Cubs. Though they certainly could use the quality innings he provides, it’s unlikely the Cubs will want to meet his asking price.
Davis is someone I’d like to see the Cubs retain. The asking price, to be sure, will be steep. But I don’t see anyone on the radar that could take his place, not unless you think new pitching coach Jim Hickey can be a pitcher-whisperer to Carl Edwards Jr. and get him to cut down on the walks.
It wouldn’t hurt to have a good-hitting veteran backup catcher like Avila, though he might get offered a starting position elsewhere. We’ll see if the Cubs think he’s worth keeping around.
Duensing is another likely departure. He’s 35 and has almost certainly just had the best year of his career. Let someone else pay for that. The Cubs dumpster-dived to get him in the first place and they can likely find someone else like him.
Lastly, I’d love to see Jay stick around in the same role he had in 2017, and that’s certainly possible, and likely not too expensive.
Key dates to remember: next Monday, November 6 is the date teams must make qualifying offers to free agents, and remember those rules have changed since last year. Tuesday, November 7 is the first day free agents can negotiate with all teams.
Let the speculation begin!