This Cubs season began back in February with high hopes and one goal, repeat. For the first time since 1909, the #Chicago Cubs fans watched their team play as the defending World Series champions in a season that was a roller coaster ride of emotions. The dream of a repeat ended Thursday night when the Dodgers defeated the Cubs 11-1 at Wrigley Field to win the National League pennant.

While the banner raising and ring ceremony back in April was fun, there was a lot of frustration when the season began as they did not perform as desired. However, the team rallied in the second half to win the NL Central for the second straight year and were set to play #Postseason baseball for the third consecutive season.

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Finishing the regular season at 92-70, they were not the heavy favorites to win as they were in October of 2016 but it was still hard to count out the defending champs. Despite not going all the way, it was still a memorable season on the North Side of Chicago.

Postseason downfall

The list of things that went wrong for the Cubs in the NLCS is quite large. The bats did not produce, the bullpen struggled mightily, and there were a few questionable managing decisions by Joe Maddon. The Cubs scored seven runs in and batted .178 as a team, striking out 53 times in five games. All seven Cubs runs were scored via a home #Run. The pitchers walked 28 batters and gave up a total of 28 runs. Starting pitchers had an ERA of 5.06, but if you take away the game five loss, it was 3.68 which was very respectable in the first four games.

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The bullpen had an ERA of 5.82, and 14 of the 28 walks the pitching staff issued. Not very pretty numbers.

The Dodgers, who won 105 games, were clearly the better team and the Cubs looked gassed. After playing a full postseason last year and having a little downtime in the offseason with the World Series tour, another full season and more postseason this year seemed to catch up with them. Even Kris Bryant expressed being tired after losing game three. It was frankly a miracle that they were able to win the NLDS against Washington because the Cubs never really got their full mojo going this October.

Looking to the offseason

Most of the team's core will be set to come back next year, but with a few set to hit free agency. Key free agents this offseason include Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Jon Jay, Wade Davis, Alex Avila, Rene Rivera, Koji Uehara and Brian Duensing.

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Jake Arrieta is the one who will be seeking a big free agent deal, and the Cubs chances of giving the 31-year old do not seem likely. He compiled a 68-31 record with a 2.73 ERA and a Cy Young award in his 4.5 seasons in Chicago. Agent Scott Boras will be looking for the big bucks for him. Theo and Co. may shell out money for All-Star closer Wade Davis, who went 32/33 in save situations and pitched to a 2.30 ERA and 1.142 WHIP. Other re-signs could include Jon Jay, who slashed .296/.374/.749 in 141 games and Brian Duensing who was a solid lefty in the pen. Avila and Rivera are up in the air while Lackey likely will either sign elsewhere or retire.

With Lackey and Arrieta likely gone, more starting pitching will be needed. The free agent class this offseason is not great, but there are some solid names the Cubs could potentially target. While Yu Darvish is a free agent, the Cubs may go for decently priced solid 3-5 guys in a rotation which includes the likes of Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb or Tyler Chatwood. There is also the question of potential trades the Cubs could make involving one of their MLB assets like Ian Happ or Kyle Schwarber. No real rumors spreading or anything yet, but expect the unexpected from Theo Epstein.

Overall the Cubs areas to address this offseason include: add a solid starting pitcher, add more bullpen depth, a solidified lead-off hitter and re-signing Wade Davis. The team's talented [VIDEO] core is still very young and set to contend for years to come, but there is no doubt some retooling to do in the offseason. Until next year.