The Chicago Cubs are all but officially eliminated from postseason contention, and it's all because of their terrible play down the stretch. They failed to bury the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers, and, even more embarrassingly, got swept by the hated St. Louis Cardinals in a paramount four-game series this past weekend.
Chicago is now firmly four games out of the NL Wild Card race with just six games to go, so with the end almost here, let's take a look at four players that probably won't be with the team next year as the front office has a ton of decisions and adjustments to make.
5. Pedro Strop
Pedro Strop has been a member of the Cubs' bullpen since 2013, and while he's posted solid numbers over his tenure in Chicago, he just never seemed like he was that effective. He constantly gets himself in and out of trouble, which is the exact kind of reliever the Cubs do not need in their shaky 'pen. Couple that with a 4.99 ERA in his contract year, and the right-hander is as good as gone.
4. Steve Cishek
Steve Cishek is similar to Strop in a sense that he also puts up solid numbers, but his performance on the field suggests otherwise. He's far from a reliable reliever and has had a number of outings this year that cost the team in a big way. The Cubs will gladly let him enter free agency after paying him $13 million over the last two years.
3. Brandon Morrow
Don't worry, Cubs fans, this is the last reliever on the list. Chicago brought in Morrow for the 2018 season, but the right-hander has just been unable to stay on the field. He's pitched in just 35 games over the last two seasons, and given his troubling injury woes that plagued him this year especially, there's a slim chance the front office is going to pick up his $12 million team option. Expect a big bullpen overhaul.
2. Ben Zobrist
Zobrist, despite being the 2016 World Series hero for the Cubs, probably won't be back either. Another troubling situation involving a contract year saw Zobrist take nearly a four-month leave as he dealt with a divorce from his wife Julianna. He's appeared in just 43 games and is slashing .263/.356/.321, so it's hard to envision the Cubs bringing him back unless he signs for super cheap. Then again, do the Cubs want to inherit another potential year of drama with the divorce proceedings?
1. Cole Hamels
The Cubs, on paper, had a rotation most teams would dream of. Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels should be more than enough to get you into the playoffs, but Hamels especially let the team down in the second half. In his last seven starts, the left-hander is just 1-4 with an 8.68 ERA. The Cubs will definitely let him walk after his $20 million salary for 2019 definitely left a bad taste in their mouth over the last two months.