Chicago Cubs: Theo Epstein talks slow offseason and the year ahead
By Jake Misener
Contrary to popular belief, Theo Epstein and his Chicago Cubs have been among the busiest Major League clubs in a historically slow offseason.
I swear, covering Major League Baseball is a lose-lose. Especially covering the Chicago Cubs since they won their first World Series in 108 years. And no one deals with more nonsense than the man steering this ship in president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
Epstein recently sat down with The Athletic to talk about this offseason, his team and how it has affected everyone in the game – even players on the Cubs’ roster. But let’s be real. If this were a normal offseason, people would be complaining about the moves Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer made. (Remember folks’ initial reaction to the Tyler Chatwood signing? It wasn’t pretty).
Instead, we’ve got people complaining that the Cubs haven’t made enough moves. When, in fact, they’re one of the most active teams in baseball this winter.
"“Most fans feel like their team is the only one that hasn’t done anything,” Epstein said. “It’s not something that’s easily put into context … We’ve been one of the more active teams. But there’s still this sense we haven’t done anything.”"
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Which, of course, is blatantly wrong. Chicago added Chatwood to replace outgoing veteran John Lackey (who remains unsigned). After losing Wade Davis and designating Hector Rondon for assignment, Epstein brought in Dario Alvarez, Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek. That’s not to mention lefty Drew Smyly, who could be a potential rotation piece in 2019.
As for position players, it’s been a low-key winter for Chicago. Last week, of course, they inked a veteran catcher with a lengthy connection to free agent starter Yu Darvish. But really, that’s been about it for position signings. And with good reason.
A core envied by the rest of the league
This Cubs team remains stacked. With the projected lineup, you’ve still got Tommy LaStella, Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ on the bench. Not to mention catcher Victor Caratini, who may very well force his way onto the roster out of Spring Training.
"“I wasn’t going to rush into anything, but it was something we were open to,” he said. “We have two extra starting-caliber position players on any given night and we were going into the offseason short on pitching. If it was something we weren’t open to, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs. We explored a lot of a different possibilities, but in the end there just wasn’t a deal available that would give us a fair return back. We didn’t want to take less talent or control just to add a pitching prospect. Balancing the roster wasn’t that fundamental to make a bad deal happen.”"
Chicago has, thus far, avoided trading any of their young core pieces for pitching. And, if I know Theo Epstein, that move will pay off down the stretch. I still firmly believe it is not a matter of if, but when the Cubs add one of their top three free agent targets. Before Opening Day, Darvish, Alex Cobb or Jake Arrieta will be among those on this roster.
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And, when that move is made, we’ll chalk yet another Epstein-led offseason up to success. So to those of you who have a problem whether deals are made or it’s dead-quiet; to those of you who complain whether it’s hot or cold, sunny or rainy, know this.
The right man is at the helm. And he knows a lot more about what he’s doing that you (or I) do.