PHOENIX – The more things change, the more they stay the same. After a rollercoaster first half that saw the Cubs go from the bottom of the bottom of the NL Central to leading the division and then falling eight games back, they are exactly where many expected them to be.
The Cubs are in a precarious position with two weeks from the trade deadline. The team’s chances of getting into the postseason took a massive plunge after an 11-game losing streak and losing 13 of their last 16 games entering the All-Star break. They now sit fully on the seller’s side of the trade market.
“We were certainly fully on the buy side of this transaction, and everyone was calling about that,” Hoyer said last week. “And obviously people are now calling to see which players are available, so it’s a very different scenario than we expected. Life comes at you fast.”
It certainly does and over the next two weeks, it’s very likely the Cubs could begin departing with several of some or all of their biggest superstars, including Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo.
While the team’s possible “reload” won’t likely be the massive teardown that many fans fear it will be, the shocking reality that this chapter of Chicago Cubs baseball is in its final days is a tough pill for many to swallow.
President Jed Hoyer has spoken over the last two weeks about looking at the big picture in terms of where the Cubs are as an organization and where they hope to be. The next two weeks leading to the trade deadline will have a massive effect on not only what the Cubs look like the rest of 2021, but give a guide into the direction that the team will be heading down over the next few years.
“When you’re in this moment and your playoff odds get into single digits at this time of the year, you have to keep one eye on the future and think about what moves you could potentially make that could help build the next year, the next great Cubs team,” Hoyer said.
What likely comes first for Hoyer is deciding what to do with the likes of Bryant, Baez and Rizzo, All three players will become free agents at the end of the season and after being unable to sign any of them to extensions last offseason and during the spring, there are contenders likely lining up calling about the services of the three All-Stars. Closer Craig Kimbrel is also a candidate to be moved.
But those moves are also not limited to four players and if the team is willing to take calls on them, nobody is untouchable.
The Cubs have been in the middle of rumors surrounding their biggest stars being traded for the last three years and each year, those rumors never came to fruition. But this season feels different, not only from the Cubs position in relation to the standings, but also because their core players are now within arms reach of free agency.
There’s an atmosphere of finality that has now hovered over the team for the last few weeks and that feeling will continue until there’s a resolution via trades or riding off into the sunset one final time with the team as currently assembled.
The second half is going to look different than fans have seen over the last six years, especially if names like Bryant, Baez or Rizzo are no longer wearing blue pinstripes.
Hoyer’s sentiments on the Cubs last month are true. Life does come at you fast. No one could have predicted that what was once considered one of, if not the best core in baseball would be on the verge of being broken up. But in baseball, the inevitability of change catches up to everyone and for the Cubs, that time has come.