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Cubs offseason guide: What to expect leading up to spring training

Thanks to the Astros’ Game 7 victory Wednesday, the Cubs are no longer the reigning World Series champions. Their drought now stands at one year.

The clock starts ticking now on a long offseason wait for Cubs fans. Here’s a quick guide to get them through the offseason:

• Tickets for the 2018 Cubs Convention — Jan. 12-14 — go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday.

• We are 105 days away from Cubs pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa, Arizona, on Feb. 15 and 147 days from the 2018 regular-season opener on March 29 against the Marlins in Miami.

Wrigley Field. | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

• Free agency began Thursday, and Monday is the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their eligible former players who became free agents. Those players have until Nov. 16 to accept the offers.

• Key among Cubs free agents are starter Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis. Offseason business will get serious when the general managers’ meetings kick off Nov. 13. The winter meetings are Dec. 11-14.

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‘‘We face a lot of challenges,’’ Cubs president Theo Epstein said last month. ‘‘We knew that the 2017-18 offseason would be one of our most challenging — have known that for a long time — and that there may be more certain opportunities presenting [among free agents] next offseason. We have to find a way to balance those two things.

‘‘But the goal is to create a really high floor for this organization, where the off-years are years when you might win in the high 80s but still sneak a division or wild card or win 90 games and get in and find a way to do some damage in October. And then the great years you win 103 and win the whole thing.’’

Cubs free agents

  • SP, John Lackey: $16M
  • SP, Jake Arrieta: $15.6M
  • RP, Wade Davis: $10M
  • RP, Koji Uehara: $6M
  • C, Alex Avila: $2M
  • RP, Brian Duensing: $2M
  • C, Rene Rivera: $1.75M
  • RP, Manny Parra

Arbitration-eligible players:

  • RP Hector Rondon
  • RP Justin Grimm
  • SP Kyle Hendricks
  • 3B Kris Bryant
  • SS Addison Russell
  • INF Tommy La Stella.

Possible free-agent target
Alex Cobb, Rays pitcher

Off-season outlook:

  • Pitching — starting, relief and more pitching.
  • Not expected to make a play for big-named hitters
  • Seeking answers to their leadoff spot internally
  • Veteran backup catcher will likely be a short-term, low-cost fix that could wait until late in the process.

Three returning starting pitchers:

  • Jon Lester
  • Kyle Hendricks
  • Jose Quintana

Key dates for Spring Training.

Sloan Park. Mesa, Arizona

  • Feb 15 — Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.
  • Feb. 19 — Voluntary reporting date for other players.
  • Feb. 24 — Mandatory reporting date.

New coaching staff
The Cubs have turned over most of their major-league coaching staff, here’s how the new staff shapes up under manager Joe Maddon.

  • Pitching coach: Jim Hickey replaces Chris Bosio
  • Hitting coach: Chili Davis replaces John Mallee
  • Asst. hitting coach: Andy Haines replaces Eric Hinske
  • Bench coach: The Cubs haven’t hired a replacement for Dave Martinez, who left to manage the Nationals.
  • Third-base coach: Brian Butterfield replaces Gary Jones

Opening Day: March 29, 2018.
The Cubs open on the road at the Miami Marlins. Time TBD.

Home opener: April 9, 2018
The Wrigley Field debut is against Pirates, 1:20 p.m.