Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has no intentions of tearing anything down.
My colleague Nick Blazek wrote recently about the tough decisions facing the team and I wrote a month ago when the Chicago Cubs bombed out of the 2020 postseason that owner Tom Ricketts was left with a huge headache.
Apparently, though, this headache isn’t so crippling. Why, you ask? Because when asked this week about such a scenario, Ricketts had this to say to reporters, including Patrick Mooney:
"“I would always take Jed’s recommendation on what to do with what happens on the field,” he said. “But I don’t think anybody’s tearing anything down.”More from Cubbies CribCubs: Adrian Sampson is forcing his way into the conversationProjecting the Chicago Cubs bullpen to open the 2023 seasonCubs fans are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnelJustin Steele has evolved into a frontline starter for the CubsThe future of first base is murky right now for the Cubs"
Well of course he doesn’t think so. But is not tearing down the wrong move? The Cubs have exceeded the luxury tax threshold in each of the last two seasons and that seriously crimps any chance of signing a top free agent. Were they to do so (and exceed the CBT again in 2021) be paying a 50 percent tax on additional payroll. Not the kind of thing you do if you’re trying to shake up a roster with an eye toward the future.
Add to that the ongoing effort to boost the Cubs’ Marquee Network, still an ongoing concern, and a team in teardown doesn’t make sense. You’ll fail to attract both carriers and subscribers.
So what is the plan for 2021? Run it out there again with some minor additions and hope they can regain that 2016-2017 form and dominate a weak NL Central? That might get you a Wild Card spot, or even the division, but it won’t get you to the World Series.
Perhaps the plan Is it to swing a couple of trades. But who; and for who?
Everyone seems to think Kris Bryant is top of the list to go. His $18.6 million coming off the team’s payroll would be a big bump in savings. But then do you count on David Bote stepping in as the full-time third baseman?
Bote would be a significant downgrade both in terms of defense and at the plate. Nico Hoerner hasn’t yet shown he can stick at the MLB level and his arm is more suited to second than the left side of the infield. So, trading Bryant isn’t so obvious after all.
In all, the trade options are head-spinningly numerous. Nonetheless, it seems the route to go rather than trying to land a couple of free agents. Unless running it out there one more time for old time’s sake is the plan – but let’s hope that’s not the case.