Cubs bullpen: 'One of our biggest regrets'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Improving the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen might not be the top priority for the organization at the winter meetings, but it should get more attention than it did last year at this time.

“That was one of our biggest regrets from last year,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer bluntly stated on Monday.

The Cubs' bullpen imploded right from the start of the season. It ranked third to last in the National League with a 4.04 ERA and blew 26 saves -- third most in the league. Only two pitchers, James Russell and Hector Rondon, lasted the entire season on the roster. And Rondon was forced to be there due to Rule 5 draft status, though he threw well as the season progressed. The same can’t be said of the rest of the group.

“We have spent a lot of time thinking about the bullpen, thinking of ways to get better,” Hoyer said.

Reports on Monday indicated the Cubs might be interested in relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals. And there are several free agents with closing experience, including John Axford and Kevin Gregg, who saved 33 for the Cubs last season. He’s not expected back. The team already agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs will look from within, as well.

“We should have been a lot closer to .500 at the beginning of the season,” Hoyer said. “A lot of the trades over the last year will help that bullpen.”