Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts: ‘You can’t buy a championship team in baseball’

Ricketts said that Jed Hoyer, the president of baseball operations, has “gotten a lot of flexibility. Let him decide what he wants to do.”

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Cubs Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, and Andre Dawson watch Jose Cardenal throw a ceremonial first pitch before the game Saturday.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

In building the “next great Cubs team,” chairman Tom Ricketts appears all-in on the rebuild mission with many major-league auditions and minor-league talent being stockpiled for the second consecutive season.

“You can’t buy a championship team in baseball,” Ricketts told reporters Saturday after the induction of former outfielder Jose Cardenal, venerable announcer Pat Hughes and the late Buck O’Neil into the Cubs’ Hall of Fame. “You have to build it. That’s what we’re doing.”

Ricketts added that Jed Hoyer, the president of baseball operations, has “gotten a lot of flexibility. Let him decide what he wants to do.”

The Cubs have about $89 million earmarked for six players for 2023. That doesn’t include All-Star left fielder Ian Happ, who can become a free agent after next season.

Regardless of the hype surrounding pitching newcomer Hayden Wesneski and top outfield prospects Brennen Davis and Pete Crow-Armstrong, Hoyer has made it clear the Cubs need more power.

It’s a contrast from the roster they constructed eight years ago, when young position players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Kyle Schwarber were supplemented by free-agent pitchers such as Jon Lester and John Lackey, who helped them win the 2016 World Series.

Ricketts attended a High-A South Bend game Sept. 1, and Hoyer watched the Double-A Tennessee and Single-A Myrtle Beach affiliates last month.

Nico Hoerner’s ascent at shortstop has provided an in-house option should the Cubs shift their monies away from a deep free-agent shortstop market this winter.

But Hoyer won’t show his cards.

“There’s no question there’s holes to fill on this team moving forward,” Hoyer has said. “There are a lot of nice good stories on guys stepping forward and make it clear they’re part of our plans. But even with that, there are a number of holes. We’ll look to where we are financially.

“[But] it doesn’t behoove us to go into specifics about who we’re going to go after.”

Pitcher Marcus Stroman believes the Cubs are “close” but admitted any moves are out of his control.

“If we add a few pieces, we can compete in the division right away,” Stroman said.

Blue heaven

Cardenal, 78, quipped, “I wish I still had my Afro” after plaques of him and Hughes were revealed.

Cardenal and Hughes received blue jackets with a Cubs Hall of Fame logo on the left lapel. Cardenal appreciated the support of Crane Kenney, the president of business operations, rock legend and admirer Eddie Vedder and former First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as the Wrigley Field fans.

Cardenal recalled in the 1972 home opener that the fans booed him after he lost a fly ball in the sun in right field.

“What you want me to do?” Cardenal said with open hands to the fans, who began to cheer him.

“Since that day, they accepted me,” Cardenal said. “And then after that, I was confident. The fans were right behind me. It was great.”

Hughes was moved to enter a group that included broadcast legends Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse.

“Once I got to town, they treated me great from Day 1,” Hughes said. “I wish they could be here today because they were good to me, I admire them greatly and had a lot of fun with them.”

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