Cubs enter Meetings with work left to do

Even with recent moves, Chicago looks to address bullpen, depth

Cubs enter Meetings with work left to do

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Cubs had a busy week, adding another reliever and signing veteran outfielder Jon Jay, but they still have work to do heading into the Winter Meetings, which officially open Monday. and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on, including the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 8 a.m. CT.

Cubs' Meetings to-do list starts with bullpen

Who will close for the Cubs in 2017? Aroldis Chapman was a key reason the Cubs won the World Series this past season, but he's a free agent. Chapman says he'd like to return, but the lefty is being courted by other teams, including the Yankees.

"I would love to come back to the Cubs, but it's not up to me, it's up to them," Chapman said through an interpreter at a charity event in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on Friday.

The Cubs did sign lefty Brian Duensing, 33, who has pitched in relief the past four years and was limited to 14 games last season with the Orioles before needing surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow. Duensing is not in the mix to close, but with Mike Montgomery projected to start and Travis Wood gone via free agency, the Cubs need another lefty in the bullpen.

Will Hector Rondon return to the closer's job? Or could Carl Edwards Jr. take over that role? Expect manager Joe Maddon to address that during the manager sessions.

Cubs aim to build around nucleus at Winter Meetings

Last year, the Cubs signed Jason Heyward, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist and essentially did most of the heavy lifting regarding the roster. This offseason, the focus is to make sure they have enough depth. The Cubs were relatively injury free as they cruised to a Major League-best 103 wins this past season. With Jason Hammel now a free agent, do the Cubs have enough starting pitching?

Chicago's 40-man roster was at 35 after they decided to not tender contracts to right-hander Conor Mullee, left-handers Gerardo Concepcion and Zac Rosscup and infielder Christian Villanueva on Friday. The four could still return to the Cubs if they sign Minor League deals.

The Cubs not only are looking for players to fill needs, but also for the right personalities that can mesh well in the clubhouse. Jay, 31, fits that role. The veteran had a hectic week, signing a one-year contract with the Cubs and welcoming the birth of twin daughters. He'll be asked to play center and tutor Albert Almora Jr., who batted .277 in 47 games his rookie season.

Jay signs deal with Cubs

Jay excited to mentor Almora, join Cubs

"From a makeup and leadership standpoint, he's got an off-the-charts reputation," general manager Jed Hoyer said of Jay. "We knew that losing David Ross would leave a big void for us, and bringing in a guy like Jon was something that was important to us. ... We didn't feel like there were too many guys who could come to a team that just won a World Series and be able to fit that seamlessly and be able to help lead this team. I really feel like he can, given his reputation."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.