Cubs storylines from GM meetings: Coaching-staff changes, Willson Contreras, Drew Smyly
The Cubs have said they plan to extend a qualifying offer to Contreras, but they haven’t yet.
LAS VEGAS — The first bit of Cubs major-league news came out of the general managers meetings Tuesday, with the team announcing manager Davis Ross’ coaching staff for next season.
The announcement made hitting coach Greg Brown’s departure and Dustin Kelly’s promotion from minor-league field coordinator to replace him official. It also revealed several other internal shifts.
‘‘We think the world of Greg Brown,’’ president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. ‘‘He’s a tremendous hitting coach. With the current major-league guys and the young guys coming up, it wasn’t the right fit in the majors. We certainly hope he stays in the organization and can have a big impact on the franchise.
‘‘Going with a guy in Dustin Kelly that we think the world of and has relationships with all those young hitters, that was really important. We felt like Dustin was the right fit. Dustin and [assistant hitting coach] Johnny Washington will make a great pairing.’’
Also on the hitting side, Juan Cabreja and Jim Adduci will join Washington as assistants, with Adduci specializing in game-planning. Cabreja has been in the organization for two decades and spent the last six seasons as a major-league staff assistant. Adduci, a former major-league outfielder, joins the coaching staff after serving as the assistant director of run production for two years.
Jonathan Mota was promoted from staff assistant to major-league coach. He expanded his responsibilities this past season by working with the infielders. This will be Mota’s seventh season as a coach or manager in the organization. He also spent his minor-league playing career with the Cubs.
Alex Smith joins the staff as a data development and process coach, transitioning from his role as assistant director of major-league data and development. He has been with the organization since 2015.
Hoyer and the other National League GMs are scheduled for formal media availability Wednesday. Here are other Cubs storylines to follow during the meetings:
Cubs free agents
Free agency technically begins the day after the World Series ends, but players can’t sign with new teams for the first five days. The Cubs had two players enter free agency Sunday: catcher Willson Contreras and left-hander Wade Miley.
Hoyer said at the end of the season that the Cubs planned to extend a qualifying offer to Contreras. They haven’t done so yet, and the deadline is Thursday. Contreras is expected to reject the qualifying offer.
Left-hander Drew Smyly also joined the free-agent ranks, rejecting his $10 million mutual option for 2023. But that doesn’t shut the door on a return. It was always more likely that ongoing talks between the Cubs and Smyly’s representatives would move toward a possible new contract.
Outside free agents
‘‘I want to build on the momentum that we created at the end of the year,’’ Hoyer said at his end-of-season news conference. ‘‘But I know that we have some holes to fill, and we’ll be aggressive to try to fill those holes in the best way possible.’’
As for bringing in outside talent, the Cubs have plenty of strong options to boost their lineup with power and their pitching staff with quality starters and depth.
On Monday, shortstops Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts and starters Carlos Rodon and Jacob deGrom opted out of their contracts, entering a free-agent market that already included presumptive American League MVP Aaron Judge, shortstops Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson and expected AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.
The Cubs never came to terms on extensions for the hitters that made up their last championship core. When asked about broaching extension conversations with players such as Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner — who are entering their third and first year of arbitration, respectively — Hoyer said the Cubs had ‘‘taken the first steps.’’
The offseason will tell whether those first steps — presumably expressing an interest to the players’ agents — can lay the groundwork for putting pen to paper before spring training.
The Cubs have characterized spring training as a good time for extension talks in the past, but that approach also led to Anthony Rizzo essentially calling a news conference in late March of 2021 to address a stall in negotiations.