Chicago Cubs’ Hoyer says team wants to ‘add a lot more players’

While David Ross works with the Chicago Cubs during spring training, Jed Hoyer is looking to add more players to the mix for his manager.

Hoyer and new general manager Carter Hawkins are still working the phones as the team begins spring training. Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons and veteran reliever Jesse Chavez recently agreed to deals, and Ross finalized a contract extension.

"We are certainly going to add a lot more players," Hoyer said Monday during the first spring press conference for the team’s president of baseball operations. "No question about that. We certainly have some openings, and we are going to be talking to teams and free agents.

"We have a number of holes to address. Our biggest focus has been on pitching and pitching depth. Everyone knows the value of innings at the beginning of the season is going to be real."

The Cubs added another starting pitcher when Marcus Stroman agreed to a $71 million, three-year contract in December. Then the lockout stopped all contact between teams and players for 99 days.

The labor strife has created another unusual training camp after the COVID-19 pandemic affected each of the past two years.

"It’s been a crazy, few days," Hoyer said. "One of the fun things about this time is we never experienced something like this. Right around 6 o’clock on Thursday it was like start your engines. Start making phone calls as fast as you can, and everyone was doing it.

"This is kind of a crazy transaction period we’ve never had before and doing it while players were reporting, camp is starting. It certainly is strange."

Hawkins was hired in October, so he was just learning his way around the organization when the players were locked out. Now he is working on potential additions while trying to get to know the players already on the roster.

"Nothing in the first 150 days of this job has been normal," he said. "Nothing in these the last two years has been normal for anyone. Trying to accomplish those things — making connections, building relationships along with some of the important things right now with free agency — it’s like trying to thread that needle."

The Cubs are already dealing with some injury considerations that could affect some possible moves for Hoyer and Hawkins ahead of opening day on April 7 against Milwaukee.

Outfielder Ian Happ had a procedure in February to clean up his throwing elbow, but he is expected to be healthy for the season. He could serve as the team’s designated hitter early on.

Reliever Codi Heuer underwent Tommy John surgery after injuring his right elbow while throwing during the lockout.

Infielder David Bote and right-hander Adbert Alzolay will begin the year on the injured list. Bote is coming back from shoulder surgery, and Alzolay is dealing with shoulder stiffness.

Hoyer had no update on a potential contract extension for catcher Willson Contreras, a two-time All-Star who is eligible for free agency after the upcoming season.

"We’ve had conversations with Willson in the past. We haven’t had any right now," Hoyer said. "Clearly, we couldn’t for 99 days. Right now, we’re totally focused on putting team together. That’s where our mindset is right now."