Cubs anticipating a ‘wait-and-see’ type of offseason
For the past few years, Major League Baseball’s offseasons have generally been slow-moving, with deals and moves coming later and later into the winter.
This offseason might be the slowest moving of them all for the 30 teams, as the pandemic has turned the entire baseball world on its head. There’s still much to determine about the game as a whole before even getting into a flurry of roster moves.
While Jed Hoyer was introduced as the new Cubs president of baseball operations on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, he didn’t know how many players would be on the roster in 2021 or if the National League would have the designated hitter as it did in the abbreviated 2020 campaign.
The Cubs traditionally don’t show their hand with regards to the budget and player payroll over the offseason, but this year also brings about so many moving parts and unknowns.
It’s become tougher than ever to project — let alone predict — the future.
“Part of the reason it’s so hard to think about what our budget is going to be for ’21 is we just don’t know what the situation is gonna be,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. “Are we gonna be able to have fans? Are we gonna start on time? It’s very, very fluid.
“We’ll just take the information as we get it and make the best assessment as we go and try to put as much as we can into winning on the field.”
Hoyer is now atop the front office depth chart and he knows he and his colleagues simply need to be comfortable with all the uncertainty. It was a difficult year, but the league got through it and the Cubs got through it — winning the division and playing the entire summer without a player on the roster testing positive for the coronavirus.
Nobody expects clarity to be instantaneous this winter as teams around the league determine their next steps, both short- and long-term.
“It could be a delayed offseason,” Hoyer said. “I think everyone sort of speculated about that and that’s just a reality we have to deal with.
“It doesn’t mean we’re not gonna be on the phone all the time and it doesn’t mean we’re not gonna be working to make deals, but the fact of the matter is it may just be a wait-and-see type of offseason given all the uncertainty.”
The good news is there’s plenty of time to figure things out. The holidays are typically a slow time of year around baseball anyways and even though this year’s Winter Meetings have been canceled, the annual event hasn’t been packed with intense activity in recent years.
Though there are plenty of decisions Hoyer’s front office has to make this winter, the Cubs have a good starting point with a lot of talent on the roster and a quality coaching staff led by Manager of the Year finalist David Ross.
As far as the baseball budget goes, Hoyer and Ricketts have discussed a range and will work toward specifics as they gain more information.
And at the end of the day, this is still baseball and Hoyer has more than 20 years of experience working to improve the roster on the field.
“We’re never going to get to the point with this pandemic or with the vaccine of having perfect information,” Hoyer said. “At some point, you’re gonna have to move forward. I don’t think we’re close to that point yet. That happens as we get a little bit closer.
“But we’re not going to get to a point of perfect information, I don’t think.”