Core no more: Cubs trade Bryant, Baez and Rizzo as team officially starts over
Since the All-Star break, the Cubs have traded Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, Joc Pederson, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Jake Marisnick, Craig Kimbrel and Trevor Williams.
WASHINGTON — After Jed Hoyer took over as Cubs team president last November, there was always an elephant in the room: the clock winding down on the core the Cubs had built around several years earlier.
Talk of breaking up that core had started as early as 2018, and while Hoyer’s predecessor, Theo Epstein, often alluded to change, the core remained untouched.
But as the Cubs slowly spiraled this season, falling further and further back in the division thanks to an 11-game losing streak, the need became clearer.
Hoyer didn’t wait around and pulled the trigger at the trade deadline, marking the end of the Cubs’ World Series era.
“We lost 11 games in a row, the Brewers took off, and we were never gonna be able to catch them,” Hoyer said Friday. “Obviously, this year, we’re not wild-card contenders because of what’s happening in the [National League] West. I think we got to a place where it was, at least to me, a very clear and obvious decision.”
The Cubs sent shockwaves through the organization and their fanbase, trading all three of their superstar infielders. Shortstop Javy Baez was dealt to the Mets on Friday, with third baseman Kris Bryant sent to the Giants. Those trades came on the heels of first baseman Anthony Rizzo being traded to the Yankees on Thursday.
“I want to personally thank Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez and Kris Bryant,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “Together they played critical roles for one of the most successful runs in Chicago Cubs history.”
Also on Friday, reliever Craig Kimbrel was dealt to the White Sox for second baseman Nick Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer. Reliever Trevor Williams joined Baez in the trade to the Mets for outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong. And outfielder Jake Marisnick was traded to Padres.
Since the All-Star break, the Cubs have also traded outfielder Joc Pederson (Braves) and relievers Andrew Chafin (Athletics) and Ryan Tepera (White Sox), They have received 12 players in return from all their trades over the last two weeks.
It’s now time to step back and rebuild.
“I actually think we sped things up a lot the last few days,” Hoyer said. “One of the things I was really aware of and we talked about internally was when I look at organizations like the Tigers, Giants, Phillies — they had really good runs and got to the end of their cycle and had five-plus years [of] drought because they basically ran to the end of the cliff and they fell off and had to rebuild.
“We were willing to go to that point if this was a winning team this year, but we weren’t. So with that, we were able to, in my mind, speed that process up dramatically, because we’re able to acquire a lot of young talent, some on the major-league team, some that’ll be in the minors.”
The Cubs now find themselves in a position they haven’t been in since 2014: playing the rest of the season of contention and looking to next year.
“I think it’s time to get to work,” manager David Ross said. “Change creates opportunity, and there’s a real opportunity here for new guys to prove that they’re sustainable big-leaguers. . . . That’s a really valuable next two months [where] we’re gonna have to continue to keep an eye on the guys that can go out and prove it every single day.”
Said Hoyer: “We’re gonna sit down and figure out the right path to try to build a championship team. Sometimes that path might mean letting the garden grow for a long time because you need to let those prospects mature. Sometimes it may mean accelerating it through free agency. . . . We’re gonna do the right thing strategically. I think we have to figure that out. Sometimes opportunities are what determine that.” V