The Chicago Cubs are in the beginning stages of overturning their roster and tearing down the core of the roster that was together when the team won the World Series against the Cleveland Indians in 2016.
With Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer confirming a couple of weeks ago that the team would be sellers at the Major League Baseball trade deadline on July 30, speculation has run rampant that the team will be trading the likes of Craig Kimbrel, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo.
The opening salvo for Hoyer in his selling mindset was on Thursday when the Cubs dealt veteran left fielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves for a left-handed power-hitting first baseman Bryce Ball. Ball, at the very least, is still two years away from being considered to be Major League ready. Despite that timeline, there has been premature speculation that Ball could serve as a replacement for Rizzo on the Major League roster.
Rizzo, however, may not be going anywhere. According to MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are hoping to reach a long-term extension agreement with both Rizzo and Baez before any trade is considered.
The Chicago Cubs seem to want extensions for certain players before trading them.
Everything that Hoyer had said since acknowledging that the Cubs will be sellers at the Major League Baseball trade deadline is that the Cubs will not be fully rebuilding. Instead, Hoyer sees this as an opportunity for the Cubs to reset their contending window while still fielding a competitive team.
If the Chicago Cubs re-sign Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez, it is an indicator that the team is looking to retool as opposed to rebuild. That is why there is a vast difference from the position that the Cubs are in now compared to when Hoyer, along with Theo Epstein, first took control of the team’s front office in 2012.
The 2012 Cubs had no cornerstones on their roster in which they could build a contending team. That is not the case now as the Cubs have several players on their Major League roster that can be a part of the next core.
If were speaking from a pure baseball perspective, Baez and Bryant should be the pair that the Cubs want to extend instead of Baez and Rizzo. Rizzo is on the wrong side of 30 and his recurring back issues will continue to diminish his power for the rest of his career. Having said that, the Cubs wanting to extend Baez and Rizzo is indeed an indicator that they plan on contending again soon.
Under that scenario, the path to the Cubs contending again is pretty clear. The blueprint would be what the New York Yankees accomplished in 2016. The Yankees finished the 2016 season with a record of 84-78 and in fourth place in the American League East Division.
During the 2016 season, the Yankees retooled by dealing closer Aroldis Chapman, reliever Andrew Miller, and outfielder Carlos Beltran at the deadline. That off-season, the Yankees then returned to spending and won 91 games in 2017.