The Cubs are reportedly willing to listen on any veteran player this offseason.
We’d assumed as much, but according to Buster Olney (subscription required) the Chicago Cubs are ready to listen to offers on pretty much anything and everything that isn’t bolted down, namely their core group of veteran players – including All-Star shortstop Javier Baez.
Per Olney, teams are getting the impression that ‘significant turnover’ is on the horizon for the reigning National League Central champions. Of course, we’ve heard this for the better part of three years to no avail. But it feels like COVID-19 and its impact on the game might finally force the Cubs’ hand this offseason.
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Unloading guys like Baez and former NL MVP and Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant could help Chicago cut payroll by tens of millions of dollars, depending on the return. But to that point, both Baez and Bryant are potential non-tender candidates given the team’s financial outlook.
Look. I have a hard time believing the Cubs picked up Anthony Rizzo’s option for 2021 with the intent of turning around and trading him. As for Baez? The team seemed to be making headway in extension talks this spring before the game ground to a halt in the face of the pandemic. It seems possible, then, if perhaps not probable, they could find common ground and get a deal done this offseason.
Even if that weren’t the case and Theo Epstein decided to tear it down to the studs, Baez is coming off arguably the worst season of his big league career. We know his ceiling is sky-high. We’re talking about a former MVP runner-up here. But will teams have pause knowing just how much he struggled in 2020? It’s hard to tell.
If you pivot away from the core group of position players heading into their final year of team control, it’s worth wondering if Chicago shops its two big horses in the rotation. Would the Cubs really watch Yu Darvish re-establish himself as a Cy Young candidate, then turn around and sell high? I don’t think we can rule out anything, especially knowing he’s heading into the back half of his 30s and his value probably won’t ever be this high again.
Hendricks is under an incredibly team-friendly deal that runs through 2023 with a vesting option for 2024. He’s been about as reliable as they come in his career and would undoubtedly draw interest on the trade market.
Unfortunately, we’re heading into an unprecedented offseason where teams will be driven by a mandate to slash payroll. The Cubs are no exception here. After ranking near the top of the league in payroll annually of late, to mixed results, expect the organization to make some difficult decisions – including trading some fan-favorite household names.