Jed Hoyer On Bellinger, Hendricks, Ross


Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer met with reporters on Tuesday (including Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune) to discuss his team’s disappointing finish to the 2o23 season and his plans for the upcoming offseason. Topics of interest included the team missing the playoffs, Kyle Hendricks’ and Cody Bellinger’s futures in Chicago, and manager David Ross’ performance in 2023.

While the Cubs finished above .500 for the first time in three years, Hoyer made it clear he didn’t view the season as a success. While most didn’t see the Cubs as serious contenders entering the year, the front office had postseason aspirations from the get-go. Thus, when the Cubs were eliminated after the penultimate game on the schedule, Hoyer was in no mood to celebrate a mere winning season.

However, that doesn’t mean he saw nothing to celebrate in 2023. The executive praised the work David Ross put in this season, extolling the skipper’s willingness to accept criticism and work through disagreements. He left no room for doubt that Ross will return next year. Rather than blaming the manager for what went wrong, Hoyer made sure to give him plenty of credit for all the ways in which the club improved. His comments about the rest of the coaches were less straightforward, and he would only say that further conversations about the coaching staff will take place in the coming days.

Hoyer also had nothing but good things to say about Bellinger and Hendricks, each of whom had bounce-back seasons. Bellinger slashed .307/.356/.525 with 20 stolen bases while splitting his time between first base and center field. He finished with 4.1 FanGraphs WAR in 130 games, finally looking like an All-Star again after two straight seasons of subpar performance. Hoyer said he’d be happy to have the lefty batter back next year but acknowledged he might walk in free agency. If Bellinger does leave, however, the Cubs are committed to replacing his offensive production in the lineup.

As for Hendricks, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 24 starts, Hoyer expressed that he’d love to keep the veteran starter in Chicago “for next year and beyond.” That being said, he would not commit to picking up the righty’s $16MM club option for 2024. While $16MM is a perfectly reasonable price to pay for a capable mid-rotation starter, the Cubs might be planning to pay Hendricks his $1.5M buyout instead and then work toward a multi-year deal with a lower annual salary.

Hoyer would not commit to a certain amount of spending over the winter, although he mentioned that there is no hard and fast rule from ownership to stay under the luxury tax threshold. The Cubs were aggressive last winter, signing Dansby Swanson, Jameson Taillon, Drew Smyly, Trey Mancini, and Bellinger to eight-figure deals. While Hoyer didn’t say anything to suggest he’d spend quite as much this offseason, he did say that he wants to retain the momentum from last winter’s spending spree.

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