Jed Hoyer, Cubs plan to be ‘aggressive’ this offseason to build on organizational momentum
Like many baseball fans around the country, Jed Hoyer spent a lot of time tuned in to the TV to catch the MLB playoffs over the weekend.
And as he watched with his sons, a realization hit him.
“I was struck by just how much I miss [playoff baseball] and how much it hurts not to be there,” Hoyer said as he kicked off his 2022 end-of-season press conference Monday morning at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs haven’t been in the postseason since 2020 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2017.
Hoyer desperately wants to get back to the days where the team was playing deep into October (back-to-back-to-back trips to the National League Championship Series from 2015-17).
“I don’t like the feeling of being a spectator and watching on my couch,” he said. “This reconfirms all those things that we work for and I can’t wait to get back there.”
So the billion dollar question remains: When will the Cubs return to the postseason?
In his press conference on Monday, Hoyer didn’t lay out his step-by-step guide on how he plans to build a Cubs team that will still be playing by the time Halloween rolls around, but he did shed some light on how he and the front office views this upcoming winter.
“It’s a really important offseason to continue to build towards our goal,” Hoyer said.
Last winter, the Cubs were in major transition mode after dealing away nine players — including several key members of the 2016 World Series team — at the July trade deadline.
Hoyer’s front office mostly augmented the roster with short-term additions — veterans like David Robertson and Mychal Givens — but also added some bigger ticket free agents like Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki.
This winter, the Cubs are in a much different spot — even if Hoyer is still watching the playoffs from his couch at home.
The team finished the 2022 campaign on a high note, going 39-31 after the All-Star Break which included a 9-0 record against a pair of playoff teams (Phillies, Mets).
That gives Hoyer’s front office confidence that this ship is moving in the right direction but it’s also some very real momentum that the Cubs want to capitalize on.
“Couldn’t be more excited about the way we finished,” Hoyer said. “It’s a far cry from the way we started. Ultimately, we have to build on that momentum. That’s gonna be the focus of the offseason.
“We absolutely want to compete next year. We also want to build something really special for the fans. We want to build something really stable, something lasting and that’s the lens we’re going to view our transactions this winter.
“We’re very excited about where we’re going. We have real momentum in this building and we look forward to building something really special.”
When Hoyer and Theo Epstein first took over the Cubs front office back in 2011, they preached the need for sustained success — building playoff teams year after year.
He has the same goal this time around. It’s not about just getting into the playoffs again, it’s about getting a shot at a World Series championship every year.
“Last season, we talked a lot about intelligent spending and we’ll certainly look to do that again,” Hoyer said. “I want to build on the momentum that we created at the end of the year but I know that we have some holes to fill and we’ll be aggressive to try to fill those holes in the best way possible.”
“I think we can definitely compete next year and we also want to create something lasting and special, so we’re always gonna have to keep those two things in mind. I believe that a successful offseason does involve filling those holes that we know we saw.”
Hoyer would like to see the Cubs score more runs in 2023 and felt like the lineup lacked depth throughout the season when key players went down with injury.
Some of the depth signings — Jonathan Villar, Andrelton Simmons — didn’t pan out on the position player front but a trio of relievers (Robertson, Givens, Chris Martin) performed well and the Cubs parlayed that success into young players who might provide a long-term impact at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are encouraged by the way the organization’s pitching development has grown over the last few seasons and fans saw the fruits of that labor in Chicago throughout the year with young arms like Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, Hayden Wesneski and Javier Assad.
Hoyer’s front office plans to augment the pitching staff with acquisitions this winter.
Beyond that, there are clear holes around the diamond to add impact players (center field, first base, infield). Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki are locked into left and right field, respectively, while Nico Hoerner will definitely be a part of the starting lineup whether it’s at shortstop or at a different position.
Franmil Reyes will likely be back as the team’s starting designated hitter entering 2023 and Nick Madrigal — when healthy — will be in the mix at second base. Patrick Wisdom, Christopher Morel and others will likely factor in as versatile options moving around the field.
The Cubs have a lot of young players coming up through the system but only a few are expected to arrive at Wrigley Field in the near future — namely outfielder Brennen Davis and first baseman Matt Mervis.
So as Hoyer looks to add to the team this winter, he will do so with the big picture in mind.
“We want to compete,” Hoyer said. “But we also have an eye on building something special, on creating something lasting and I think that that ultimately is the biggest focus.
“That stability is what brings you playoff runs year after year. So we’re not going to do anything that we feel like doesn’t make sense for both the short term and the long term.”