I’m willing to bet Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein is a fisherman. If he isn’t, someone must have taught him how live bait catches the biggest fish in the pond—or in his case, the MLB.
Like fishing, baseball takes a certain kind of patience. If you’re not willing to put in the wait-time, you’ll end up quitting before the lunkers are hungry.
“We’re still kind of in the early innings as far as determining what we’re going to be able to do,” Epstein said to reporters before their loss to the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. “… I think we understand the basic dynamics of the marketplace right now.”
This season, prospects such as Albert Almora Jr., Willson Contreras, and Jeimer Candelario have made their debut in “The Show”, though their job isn’t to help the Cubs win immediately. They’ve played well in the absence of Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler, and Jorge Soler, while generating interest in the Cubs talent pool has to catch.
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According to MLB.com, six of the top 100 prospects in the MLB are currently in the Cubs farm system. Position players who are currently blocked by a player on the current big league roster. Two of them—Ian Happ (second baseman), and Gleyber Torres (shortstop)—are currently blocked by Cubs starters and could reasonably make their debuts with other teams.
The team’s bullpen struggles contributed to Carl Edwards Jr., and Spencer Patton getting time with the Bigs as well. They round out a group the club can chum with to attract teams in need of a youthful rebuild.
There are a number of teams in the league that would gladly buy whatever the Cubs decide to sell. A team like the New York Yankees makes sense. The Yankees have three of the most dominant bullpen arms in the league, as well as an unrelenting fan base that won’t accept buying $300 dollar nosebleed seats to watch a non-competitive team.
It’s been rumored that Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are on the Cubs radar, though a package for either one of them would inevitably cost Soler. Almora’s recent success certainly muddies the water there.
The best news for Cubs fans is that their farm system will remain a staple to their success for years to come. Jason Heyward said it was the “youthful core” of the Cubs that lured him away from the St. Louis Cardinals in the first place. At this point, the only question is how much of the future are the Cubs willing to sacrifice for the present?
“I do think we have some flexibility,” Epstein said. “We didn’t spend all the money – we built-in a little bit of a cushion for in-season moves.”