As Cubs move out of evaluation phase, Jed Hoyer lays out plan for offseason roster reconstructionRussell Dorseyon October 6, 2021 at 7:08 pm

“I think I’ve said repeatedly that we do have financial flexibility,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said. “We have money to spend this winter, but I think it’s really important that we do that in an intelligent way.” | Jon Durr/Getty Images

“We have money to spend this winter, but I think it’s really important that we do that in an intelligent way,” president Jed Hoyer said on Wednesday.

The Cubs had plenty of time to evaluate their situation this season following a year that saw them trade three of the franchise’s biggest stars. Now that those evaluations are done and it’s now time for president Jed Hoyer to get to work on getting his club turned in the right direction.

The Cubs will be looking to do something they haven’t done since 2018: spend money. And with a $41 million payroll going into the 2022 season, they have the resources to improve what became, at the end, a roster void of major league talent.

“As we build this, I think it’s really important to make one good decision after another,” Hoyer said on Wednesday. “And I do think that’s how I think about the offseason. We’re trying to try and build a roster that can compete. We’re also trying to do it without … we’re not looking to win the offseason, which I think can be a real negative. Both in terms of the season next year, but also in terms of the future.

“I think I’ve said repeatedly that we do have financial flexibility. We have money to spend this winter, but I think it’s really important that we do that in an intelligent way.”

The Cubs have a lengthy checklist as the team continues to flip it’s roster and return to being competitive, relative to other contending teams in the National League. Making it no surprise that starting pitching is No. 1 on Hoyer’s list.

Simply put, the team’s starting rotation was just not good enough. The Cubs’ rotation had a 5.27 ERA last season, which ranked 27th in MLB and getting a start over five innings was a rarity, putting added pressure on the bullpen.

“If you sort of look at the whole season, there’s no question that we have to acquire more pitching, better pitching this winter,” Hoyer said. “I think that’ll be the No. 1 priority, because that said simply was that was the downfall of this season. Our rotation was short and we weren’t effective enough in terms of run prevention.”

Catcher Willson Contreras had a front row seat to the Cubs’ pitching deficiencies and sees arms as an area he’d also like to see improvement next season.

“I’ll be honest, I think we need some pitching stuff,” he said. “We have power guys, we need some more command guys.”

Hoyer expects the Cubs to be active as he looks to put his stamp on the roster going into 2022. But when that activity will actually begin is still to be determined. Much like the last two offseasons, this winter isn’t expected to move quickly in the early going, especially with the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) set to expire on Dec. 1.

It’s hard to imagine much getting done without a new CBA and teams and pending free agents are likely going to wait to see how things unfold and new rules that are in place before making any decisions.

Based on current tension between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association on a variety of issues, it could be after the New Year before things start to pick up.

“I think pro scouting and all the other guys in the office [research and development] analytics, we’re obviously looking carefully at both the free agent market and the trade market,” Hoyer said. “I think it’s our job to get ahead of that to make sure we’re as prepared as possible from an evaluation standpoint, as prepared as possible from a strategic standpoint. We will spend this whole month preparing and then we’ll be ready to go when the offseason starts.”

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