The Chicago Cubs are officially reporting to spring training in Arizona this week, and President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer had updates on several storylines that fans will be monitoring closely as camp gets underway.
Hoyer discussed the potential for contract extensions for Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner, and also discussed the team’s estimated timeline for Kyle Hendricks and Codi Heuer to join the roster.
Here’s what he had to say.
No Deadline on Happ, Hoerner Talks
While Hoyer didn’t have specifics on how in-depth negotiations have gotten with either Happ or Hoerner, he did say that those talks will not stop just because the team has begun their spring training workouts.
“We’ve had good dialogue with both sides. We’re not going to cut it off because we’re at camp today,” he said. “My preference is really not to get towards the end of spring training and get to a place where I feel like it’s affecting the preparation and mentality for the season.”
Happ, set to turn 29 this season, will be eligible for free agency at season’s end. The outfielder hit 17 home runs and drove in 72 RBI’s last season, and he made his first All-Star Game appearance and earned his first career Gold Glove for the North Siders.
He is set to earn just under $11 million this season, but would figure to get a significant raise in a free agent class that is headlined by players like Joc Pederson.
As for Hoerner, he’s not eligible for unrestricted free agency for three years, but the Cubs could still look to lock him up as a key piece of their defense. Hoerner hit .281 last season for the Cubs, with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 135 games.
He will move over to second base this season, with Dansby Swanson taking over at shortstop.
The Cubs have not signed a home-grown player to a contract extension since inking David Bote to a five-year deal in 2019.
Kyle Hendricks, Codi Heuer Updates
It wasn’t a surprise when Hoyer said that Hendricks likely will not be participating in regular workouts during spring training, and said that the team is prepared to start the 2023 season without him.
“We know he’s going to be delayed. We’ll have a lot of discussions about how much. We’re prepared to start the season without him, and we’ll see when he comes back,” he said.
Hendricks has been out of action since July with shoulder injuries, and has been slowly working his way back this offseason with a program of strength training and velocity work.
After winning 14 games in 2021, Hendricks started just 16 games last year, with a 4-6 record and a 4.80 ERA in one of his toughest seasons as a professional.
The Cubs have bolstered their rotation depth in anticipation of Hendricks being out of action. Marcus Stroman, Jameson Taillon and Justin Steele figure to be shoe-ins for the rotation, as does Drew Smyly.
Behind him, players like Javier Assad and Adrian Sampson will likely duke it out for a regular role, with Hayden Wesneski and others still in the mix as well.
Hendricks has a club option for next season that would pay him $16 million.
As for Heuer, he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent last March. Hoyer said that the likelihood is that Heuer will start the season on the 60-day injured list, but the fact he did not speaks volumes to the speed with which the reliever is recovering.
Heuer last pitched in the 2021 season, putting up a 4.28 ERA in 65 games between the White Sox and Cubs. He was acquired in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the South Side, with Nick Madrigal also coming over to the Cubs in that deal.
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