Trade talks, untouchables and the 2021 Cubs
Throughout his nine-year run as president of baseball operations with the Cubs, Theo Epstein always had the policy that no player on the roster was deemed “untouchable” in trade talks with other teams.
Now in the top spot in the Cubs front office, Jed Hoyer will maintain the same philosophy.
That doesn’t mean anything would come of any such trade discussions, but Hoyer and the Cubs want to be in a position where they can be open to any possibility.
“All you’re doing is listening and talking,” Hoyer said in an interview on “Cubs Live!” on Marquee Sports Network Wednesday night. “I don’t think there’s a single player on our roster that some team hasn’t called about at some point. If we were just to shut down the discussions immediately, it wouldn’t do us any good.
“They know which players would be really hard for us to trade and teams can act accordingly. I think that’s always the rule of thumb. I’ve never operated differently in 20 years and we’ll continue to do that.”
Players like Yu Darvish or Anthony Rizzo mean so much to the Cubs both on the field and off, but what if another team called and offered an outrageous trade package for one of those stars? With the organization at a pivotal point this offseason, Hoyer isn’t going to give any opposing GM or team president the Heisman.
The Cubs are coming off a division title and still have a few members of their World Series core under contract for 2021. With a pair of aces leading the rotation (Darvish, Kyle Hendricks), a quartet of All-Stars in the lineup (Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Javy Báez) and a Manager of the Year candidate on the top step of the dugout (David Ross), this is a team with all the makings of a contender next summer.
But Hoyer also has the tough task of determining the long-term future of the organization. He made the difficult decision to part ways with Kyle Schwarber at the non-tender deadline last week and franchise icon Jon Lester remains a free agent. Rizzo, Bryant and Báez are set to hit the open market next winter and Contreras is under team control for only two more seasons.
It has already been an offseason of transition and more change could be on the way for the Cubs. Hoyer is focused on the present, but he admitted he’s also looking to the horizon more this winter than in past years.
“You’re always balancing the present and the future,” Hoyer said. “That’s a big part of this job. I think we’ve been heavily focused on the present for the last three or four years. Getting into a winning window like this is rare and we shouldn’t take it for granted and I don’t think we have taken it for granted.
“We’re proud of the winning we’ve done and we’re proud of what’s happened but at the same time, we are getting close to the end of that group of players that we brought up. You look at the fact that Rizzo and Bryant and Báez are controllable for one more year. Obviously Schwarber was in the same boat. We have to think about that and at some point, we have to really focus on the next wave of guys that can be just like those guys were for this organization.
“The present is super important. We just won a division. We have an excellent team, but of course we have to think about the future because there’s gonna be baseball at Wrigley Field long after 2021.”