Jed Hoyer met the media Wednesday for the first time since the trade that sent Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to San Diego and he covered quite a bit of ground. Rather than attempt to put this into some long-form thinkpiece, I’m just going to lay out a few topics and include salient quotes or paraphrased thoughts. Part of that was also necessitated by the failure of Marquee’s app to recognize my access to the channel, which was nice.
Overall direction of the club
Hoyer called this a “small reset” similar to what the Yankees and Red Sox have done recently.
“I’m not going to run the same playbook that we used in 2011 and ’12. That would be foolish. And frankly, that playbook’s been copied so many times it doesn’t work as well anymore.”
“I think we’re going to have a really competitive team next year. But do we need to make some moves with the future in mind after six years of every single move being directed on the present? Yes.”
He added that reports about Willson Contreras being shopped were fictional, though they’ve been around for at least a month now and have come from multiple sources. Hoyer added that they don’t view Miguel Amaya as an option at the big league level for ’21 — no way would they start his service-time clock (my words) — and that they’ll target a veteran backup.
As for the idea of creating a different playbook, that really makes a ton of sense. Too many fans saw what happened at the outset of Theo Epstein’s tenure and how smoothly that tracked toward an eventual title, and they think it’s just that easy to do it again.
Rebuilds are far from a surefire strategy and we can’t forget that the Cubs were one or two plays away from not achieving that ultimate success. It’s all a crapshoot.
“We always have an eye on the finances of every deal. …The focus of this deal was to try to move a player in the second half of his contract and acquire a lot of young talent.”
“The future will tell us if this was a good return or not.”
“Their time horizon is not our [immediate] time horizon,” so this deal was a “way to jump-start farm system” while also providing the Cubs more depth should they end up making moves in the future to add players.
Hoyer admitted that changes in scouting — cuts to that department, lack of minor league season, lack of in-person scouting — forced the Cubs to be “more efficient with fewer employees.” That meant limiting their focus to “organizations we though could be transaction-oriented.”
Woof, that’s not a fun concept on a number of levels. As much as their own desire to shed payroll, the overall financial environment across MLB put the Cubs at a big disadvantage here. And that’s before you even consider the lost livelihoods of those scouts and others in baseball ops who lost their jobs.
Check out our breakdown for more on the four prospects themselves.
Spending money again
Hoyer vowed that the Cubs will spend again when the organization “has the bones necessary to [contend].”
But wait, didn’t he also say they have a really competitive team and expect to be in the hunt for the division crown again in 2021? They either have the bones to be competitive or they don’t, and moving Darvish for four players who aren’t on the horizon is like giving away a femur and a spine in exchange for metacarpals.
Extending current players
“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.”
“There are contractual realities to this core group, the fact that we haven’t been able to get these guys to sign extensions that we thought were the right value. I think we’d be foolish not to keep that in mind as we go forward.”
Hiring a GM
The Cubs will not be hiring a GM for “a little bit,” but Hoyer said he still plans to hire someone from the outside. He wants to be able to conduct in-person interviews, which might have to wait until after the pandemic subsides. That would also mean getting fans in the stands and generating more cash flow for an organization that trimmed over 100 positions this year.
While I don’t doubt the veracity of Hoyer’s statements, it’s hard to believe this isn’t almost as much about money as the Darvish trade. Theo Epstein was making $10 million, an amount that coincides quite nicely with the buyout the Cubs have to pay Jon Lester. Hoyer may not be pulling down quite the same figure and a new GM would certainly command even less, but that’s still a pretty decent sum in terms of actual cash.
There’s also the matter of Jared Porter, thought by many to be the frontrunner for the position, joined the Mets as their GM. Funny how it works when teams are spending money.
I’ll end this section and post on a positive note, which is that Hoyer really does have a “great staff to work with.” A GM is really a redundant position in many ways, particularly when there are several AGMs and others in the front office with expertise in different areas of the team’s operations.