As trade deadline approaches, Cubs bracing for change
As the Cubs were marching along the comeback trail Monday night against the Reds at Wrigley Field, David Ross was standing on the top step of the third base dugout unsure whether he could play the ace up his sleeve.
Javy Báez was not in the starting lineup due to a left heel bruise and Ross was wondering whether his star shortstop would be available as the game moved along.
Then the Cubs manager got word about another guy who wouldn’t be available.
Jed Hoyer’s front office agreed to a trade with the A’s during Monday night’s game that sent Andrew Chafin to Oakland. That left Ross in a position where he had to piece the game together out of the bullpen without one of his ace relievers.
“I’m sure he found out maybe in the bullpen at some point. Word travels fast,” Ross said. “I grabbed him when he came off the field. He told me, one bad outing and he gets traded? So he made me laugh pretty good at that one.
“And then Jed and the guys from up top were waiting in my office and informed him formally of the news. That was a pretty good line from him, though.”
This is the reality of the Cubs’ current situation.
Change is coming to the corner of Clark and Addison, but nobody knows exactly when or what form it will take.
The trade deadline is set to pass Friday at 3 p.m. Chicago time and by then, Ross might have to have a few more conversations with departing players.
Ever since the franchise-altering losing streak in late June and early July, the Cubs players and coaches have been stuck in something of a purgatory, waiting for the trade deadline and dealing with the uncertainty of the situation.
“We’ve all had it in the back of our heads, obviously,” Kyle Hendricks admitted. “But we’re still not trying to look at all that. … [Our focus is] day-to-day, trying to win ballgames.
“But yeah, when stuff like [the Chafin trade mid-game] happens, it’s the nature of baseball. You’re gonna miss a lot of guys.”
Ross signed as a free agent with the Cubs on Dec. 23, 2014 and ever since that moment, the team has been contending for the playoffs and a buyer at the deadline.
So this is certainly uncharted waters for Ross and most of the players on the Cubs roster.
“I don’t want to speak for the players,” Ross said. “What I will say is I definitely think it’s the first time this group’s gone through this and I definitely think it’s created adversity for us and things we’ve had to work through.
“I don’t think the winning mentality is leaving here or the way we go about competing on a daily basis. That’s gonna still remain the same. But personnel is changing a little bit. Some guys that have been brought in here to help this group win — we’ve traded two of those guys already.
“That part does stink and probably a new reality for these guys that have been here for such a long time and created this atmosphere. I think everybody that’s been a part of this group and a part of this organization for a long time also understands the business of baseball.”
The Cubs players have worked to adjust to their new normal.
“It’s just been different,” Kris Bryant said. “We’ve always been pretty much buyers or whatever the term you want to use at the deadline. And that’s always been exciting. It’s all part of the journey. It’s part of the game, part of the cycle of baseball.”
The next few days will determine the fates of Bryant, Báez, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel and other players who have made lasting memories for the Cubs fanbase.
But it’s not only fans who are anxiously awaiting the trade deadline.
“I definitely cannot wait until Friday,” Ross said.
By the time the Cubs begin their series in Washington D.C. Friday evening, we’ll know a lot more about how the franchise’s next chapter will look.