Jed Hoyer sums up an emotional trade deadline and lays out next steps for Cubs
WASHINGTON D.C. — The Cubs faced a tough crossroad, but Jed Hoyer had no question as to which road to take.
After the Cubs’ crushing 11-game losing streak at the end of June and in early July, Hoyer knew there was only one course for the Cubs to chart.
“It was a very clear and obvious decision, which is we have all these players for two more months,” Hoyer said. “In two more months, all these guys are gonna have the ability to walk away via free agency.”
So, Hoyer and the Cubs embarked on the course that they felt was best for the long-term health of the organization. That meant trading away three members of the beloved core of the 2016 World Series team — Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javy Báez. It meant moving on from a three-headed monster of a bullpen in Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel.
“We realized we’re not gonna compete this year and in that situation, the right thing to do is to make trades to look toward the future,” Hoyer said on Cubs Postgame Live! Friday night. “Ultimately, we had two more [months] of control over them and then they were free agents. So, the right thing to do with those two months was to convert those two months into a lot of prospects and a lot of good players.”
Hoyer and the Cubs tried to convert those “two months” into much more time, though.
“I have to say that we made offers to everyone that I believe will stand up exceptionally well,” Hoyer said. “We weren’t able to reach deals. Does that frustrate me? It does, but to be honest, I know we put our best foot forward.”
Ultimately, though, no agreements were reached. And that meant Hoyer had to make decisions that were difficult to stomach — for him and fans.
“They deserve every video tribute, every sad tweet, everything that is out there,” Hoyer said. “I feel the same way. I just don’t want anyone to feel like there’s lack of emotion because if anything these are friends, these are people that we’ve watched mature. I think the difficulty is real. Did we decide as a group to not have them play the last two months here? We did. I love those guys. I hope people understand that. What we created was really special.”
But that’s where Hoyer had to separate the personal side from the family side. He knew for the Cubs’ future they had to pull the trigger. And they weren’t afraid to jump in headfirst and go all in on building up their prospects.
“To me the goal is how do we build the next great Cubs team,” Hoyer said. “Not how do we build the next OK Cubs team.”
That’s what he’s trying to do. When Hoyer and former president of baseball operations Theo Epstein first joined the Cubs in 2011, the expectations the Cubs fans had were a lot lower than where they are now 10 years later.
“Cubs fans don’t expect to make the playoffs every 13 years like they did before,” Hoyer said. “They expect to be in the playoffs, they expect to win and I’m super proud that we created that. We caused that expectation and now we have to live up to that expectation.”
In making the trades over the course of 26 hours, Hoyer signaled the direction for the Cubs’ immediate future. There won’t be a playoff berth this season for the Cubs, but that’s because neither Hoyer nor the fans would be content with just getting into the Wild Card Game or the NLDS.
“We’ll sit down and figure out how are we gonna build the next great Cubs team, because that’s the goal,” Hoyer said. “I don’t care about trying to look like we’re competing or finishing in second place. I care about trying to win championships.”
And maybe, just maybe one or all of those players dealt today can be part of that “next great Cubs team”.
“The fact of the matter is, two months from now on October 1, we were gonna finish in second or third or fourth place and all those players were gonna be free agents,” Hoyer said. “To me it’s the logical, right thing to do in that moment is to trade those two months away, let them go play for a winning team and acquire a lot of talent.
“There’s nothing that’s stopping us at all from negotiating with any of those players this winter. The door has not been closed on any of these guys and I’ve told every one of those guys when we’ve talked. We didn’t close any doors on those players.”