In the days since the Cubs’ trade of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini, it has been difficult for the team’s fan base to grasp the reasoning behind the latest move.
Why now? Why this way? Why this return? And in his first comments since the move, Cubs president Jed Hoyer tried to answer those questions and lay out his course of action to get the team back to its goal of competing for championships.
“We were pretty clear that we [had] to make some moves in this direction,” Hoyer said. “You have a window of time with players, and we have not been able to extend a lot of these players to extend that window. That’s a fact. So with that, we know that we’re coming to the end of this group of players. A wildly successful franchise-changing run with this group of players, we’re coming to the end of that run.
“So as we come to the end of that, it’s really important to think about the future. I think there are plenty of examples of teams who were able to have a small reset or to make a move in that direction that really helped them.”
The Cubs showed they weren’t afraid to make the big move after trading their ace, and with no untouchables on the roster, there could be more moves soon. Hoyer said the team has received calls on practically every player on the roster, but nothing appears imminent.
And while the Cubs are still open for business, moving the remaining three years and $59 million from Darvish’s contract provides the team with salary relief for the first time in years.
As the Chicago Sun-Times reported this week, getting under the luxury-tax threshold was a priority for the Cubs, who had paid the tax each of the last two seasons, incurring a 12% repeater penalty last season.
While that flexibility doesn’t mean the Cubs will be swimming in the deep end of the pool, there might be an opportunity to get creative in a free-agent market that might swing back toward them if the market remains frozen.
“I think we’re gonna be in the free-agent market, and we’re gonna look to supplement the group,” Hoyer said. “We’re talking to agents and looking to do that right now. We know that there are holes on our roster that we need to address, and we’ll look to address them.
“I’m not going to sit here and say that we’re not going to make any more trades. If trades make sense to make, then we will do them. Those deals are gonna be done with an eye on the future. If we do them, they wouldn’t be about cost-cutting. I think we know we have to add players through free agency, and we’ll be looking at that.”
Despite their latest move and a clear decision to reset, Hoyer still believes the team can compete in the National League Central, and as crazy as it might sound for a team that just traded its best starting pitcher, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
While the division is there for the taking, apparently no team wants to take the crown, and 85 wins might be enough to win it. But after the last six years of competing for all the marbles, competing for division titles alone is a real change.
“I love the fact that we’ve raised that standard here,” Hoyer said.
“I’m still really proud of the fact that we were able to win the division. We were able to go through a really difficult 2020 and have no positive tests and come together as a group and win a division. I do feel like that’s a nice secondary goal. I do want to get back to a place where we can enter the playoffs and know that either we’re the favorite or a team that can absolutely win the World Series if things go right.”