It doesn’t look as though there will be a timely resolution to the lockout, with talks between MLB and the union about a new collective-bargaining agreement going slowly. But the Cubs still have business to attend to, and there are a couple of questions that still need to be answered.
Will the Cubs extend manager David Ross’ contract?
Ross’ first two seasons as the Cubs’ manager have been anything but normal. In 2020, the Cubs won the National League Central in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season. In 2021, they led the division for much of the first half before a long losing streak prior to the All-Star break sparked a sell-off at the trade deadline.
The Cubs love what Ross — who has one year left on his contract — has done in his first two seasons at the helm, and the expectation is that he will be in place for a while.
‘‘David has done a fantastic job as a manager,’’ president Jed Hoyer said this offseason. ‘‘He’s learned a ton on the job. Even while learning, I think he’s excelled. He’s kept morale good. He’s run the staff very well. I love having him as a partner. . . . Our hope is that David’s here for a long time.’’
‘‘He wants to put in the work and believes success is associated with work and wants the team to get after it,’’ bench coach Andy Green said. ‘‘Those things resonated really deeply with me, to be under somebody who I didn’t know how good he was going to be in front of a team, talking. But he’s literally the best I’ve ever seen or heard.’’
There are a lot of things to do after the lockout is over, but Ross’ extension likely will be something to discuss sooner than later.
What will the cubs do with Nico Hoerner?
It wasn’t long ago that the versatile Hoerner, a first-round draft pick out of Stanford in 2018, made his big-league debut in September 2019. A little more than two years later, he is in a strange spot. He finds himself without a true position and has yet to play a full season because of injuries.
Hoerner started last season strong and looked like the player many expected. But after several injuries cost him a majority of the season, he will enter next season without having had the playing time to develop.
‘‘Definitely been a lot to take on this year,’’ Hoerner said in September. ‘‘I think every year comes with challenges like that. . . . But definitely when this year is done, there will be a lot to reflect on.’’
The organization thinks highly of Hoerner and thinks he can play on winning teams, but figuring out where to play him has become a head-scratcher. Hoerner was one of the best defensive second basemen in the majors in 2020, but with the acquisition of Nick Madrigal — who doesn’t have his versatility — he’ll be forced to find another position. Hoerner is a shortstop by trade, but the Cubs’ efforts to find a long-term answer at that position likely will continue after the lockout.
‘‘I think he’s frustrated, as you’d expect,’’ Hoyer said in October. ‘‘I think most of the conversations with him are about that frustration. He had such high hopes for the season, given the physical condition he came in with. [Then he suffered] multiple injuries, some random and some soft-tissue. And we’ve obviously talked about how to address those things with his strength and conditioning and making sure he’s ready to go and addressing those issues in the offseason. So, yeah, it was a frustrating season in a lot of ways.’’
It never has been a question about whether Hoerner has the ability to be a good ballplayer; he has shown he can be. But until he can stay on the field for a significant part of a season, there always will be questions.