With the December deadline for offering arbitration looming, this winter could be the end of an era on for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have a decision to make regarding Mark Prior and whether they will offer him arbitration or decline.
If the Cubs do not offer arbitration, it doesn't mean that they won't resign Prior, however it could be seen as a lack of disrespect from the Cubs. Don't get me wrong, they have every reason in the world to not offer it to him as he hasn't been healthy for an entire year since 2003 and he still missed time that year around the All-Star break. But he's still only 27, and could yet come back from this injury as strong as he was before.
But it's not just him that could be missing from the 2008 Chicago Cubs. Kerry Wood is a free agent this winter and though he will get an offer from the Cubs to return and possibly be their closer, he too has not pitched a full season in some time and is always a risk to start the year in Arizona in extended Sprint Training doing towel drills then on the mound pitching in a Major League game.
If both of these pitchers leave, it will leave the Cubs with only one power pitcher left of their trio of flame throwers of this decade, Carlos Zambrano. and Carlos will be here for a few more years after signing a big money extension during the summer to stay with the Cubs.
Zambrano has been a blessing for the Cubs, despite pitching a lot of innings over the past 4 years, with only some minor cramping problems in his forearm that has slowed him down. But how long can that last? Will he complete the contract without missing any time due to major injury?