Liam Hendriks and Brandon Woodruff could provide a late-season boost to the team’s pitching staff.
While the focus for the remainder of the Chicago Cubs’ off-season remains on whether or not the team will be able to bring back Cody Bellinger, it’s likely that the team may also look to moves that may not have a payoff at the start of the season but could prove to be valuable during the second half.
After the addition of Hector Neris to the team’s bullpen, an argument could be made that the team is done making additions to their relief group. However, recent reporting has suggested that the Cubs may not be done adding relievers.
One name to keep an eye on is former Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks underwent Tommy John surgery during the second half of the 2023 season and his projected timeline places a return to the Major Leagues around August or September. Assuming all goes well with his recovery, Hendriks could prove to be the equivalent of a Trade Deadline acquisition for the Cubs.
Hendriks was an American League All-Star in each of his last two full seasons with the White Sox in 2021 and 2022, including earning Cy Young votes during the 2021 season. Hendriks, in a Cubs’ bullpen that includes Neris and Adbert Alzolay, likely would not be asked to close upon his return and could be a valuable add on a two-year deal.
In a similar sense, the Cubs likely are keeping tabs on Brandon Woodruff’s free agency. Woodruff is expected to miss most of the 2024 season recovering from a capsular tear in his right shoulder but could be another addition that the Cubs make with the goal of getting a boost to the pitching staff at the end of the season and heading into 2025. Of course, Craig Counsell is very familiar with Woodruff but the Cubs could be the best team to assist in the recovery considering their success with Kyle Hendricks, who had a similar injury.