Champs to turn attention to Hot Stove, 2017

If the Cubs want to eye a repeat title, they'll need a closer and OF help

Champs to turn attention to Hot Stove, 2017

As most of Chicago celebrates the Cubs' first title in 108 years, the club's front office is right back at work on reshaping the roster for another run at the World Series in 2017. The Cubs may be the favorite to repeat as champions next season, but still enter the offseason facing questions at multiple positions, particularly with the expiring contracts of closer Aroldis Chapman and center fielder Dexter Fowler.

Below is a list of the Cubs' free agents and arbitration-eligible players, as well as a look into some of the decisions the club is facing as free agency began Tuesday.

Free agents: LHP Chapman, OF Chris Coghlan, RHP Joe Smith, C David Ross (expected to retire), OF Fowler, RHP Trevor Cahill

Arbitration eligible: RHP Pedro Strop, RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Hector Rondon, RHP Justin Grimm, INF Munenori Kawasaki

Biggest potential free-agent loss: After a successful stint in Chicago, Chapman could garner one of the largest free-agent deals ever for a closer. The Cubs will surely face considerable competition to retain the 28-year-old, whose fastball regularly sits in the triple digits. The Yankees, who dealt Chapman to the Cubs in July, are already rumored to be interested in reacquiring him.

Potential free-agent targets: The Cubs enter the offseason in the market for more pitching. With Chapman hitting free agency, Chicago will need to address its closer situation either by paying to retain him or looking elsewhere. Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon represent other elite, yet expensive, closer options in the free-agent market.

The Cubs could also seek help in center field, where Fowler is still a possibility to return, albeit on a more lucrative deal than he signed last offseason. If Fowler departs, Jason Heyward or 22-year-old Albert Almora Jr. are internal options to replace him in the outfield. Chicago could look outside the organization, but alternatives in free agency are limited.

Wild-card scenario: The Cubs declined the $12 million option on Jason Hammel's contract for 2017, and he joined the list of free-agent pitchers. Hammel won a career-high 15 games and posted a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts this season. With Hammel gone, lefty Mike Montgomery could be a candidate for the rotation or else they will look outside. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said when they agreed with Hammel on the two-year contract, the option was included with the intent that it would be exercised if the pitcher was going to be with the Cubs in 2017. Epstein said the intent was never to exercise the option and then trade Hammel.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.