Hoyer discusses options at GM Meetings

Cubs assessing market as they address rotation, bullpen

Hoyer discusses options at GM Meetings

Could John Lackey return to the Cubs? General manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday they'll talk to Lackey, who apparently isn't done after 15 seasons and wants to keep pitching.

Speaking to the media at the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., Hoyer said he hasn't spoken to Lackey, 39, directly but has heard that the right-hander isn't ready to ride off into the sunset.

"We really liked having him," Hoyer said of Lackey, who went 23-20 with a 3.94 ERA in two seasons with the Cubs. "I think he brings an edge to the club. He's been a winner throughout his career. It's certainly something we'll talk about."

Hot Stove Tracker

The Cubs are in need of two starters with both Lackey and Jake Arrieta now free agents. Lackey did lead the National League in home runs allowed (36) but went 7-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 14 games in the second half.

The other opening on the Cubs' roster is closer, since Wade Davis also is a free agent. He and his former Royals teammate, Greg Holland, are the prime closers available this offseason, and the Cubs wouldn't mind having Davis back.

"I think we know the options," Hoyer said. "The only question is how this market is going to play out over weeks and months. This is the starting line, and I think we all know that. We're having initial meetings [with agents]. It's just a matter of what they're asking for and their desires and figure it out."

Besides Davis and Holland, free agents Brandon Morrow, Brandon Kintzler, and Juan Nicasio are other options who have experience pitching late in games.

The other area the Cubs need to address is leadoff man. They rotated 11 players in the No. 1 spot, including Ben Zobrist, who struggled with injuries and batted .232 in 128 games.

"I think he's going to bounce back well," Hoyer said of Zobrist, 36. "I think it was a trying year for him, physically. This guy played in back-to-back World Series, and some of that can take a toll on him. We expect him to work hard this winter and bounce back. As we think about our club, he's a huge part of it."

Jon Jay, another free agent, led the Cubs with 51 starts in the No. 1 spot, followed by Zobrist, who started 40 games there. Could Zobrist be the Cubs' leadoff man in 2018?

"Top, middle, anywhere he's needed," Hoyer said when asked where Zobrist would fit in the lineup. "He was the guy protecting [Anthony] Rizzo throughout all of '16 [and batted fourth]. Wherever Joe [Maddon] thinks he's best in the lineup, that's where we'll put him."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.