Moving toward a rebuild, the Cubs face difficult and inevitable decisions.
It all started with a blueprint. For the longest time, the Chicago Cubs struggled to reach the mountaintop, getting close only to fall from the heavens. Once they were able to land Theo Epstein, everything changed.
Following Epstein came former Manger of the Year Joe Maddon and the highly-regarded Jed Hoyer. Two individuals who took up the task of erasing over 100 years of cursed history. Now we find Chicago in a bind, having to start fresh once again.
More than a handful of players on the current roster have been key pieces to the team’s success over the years. A lot of these guys entered the league at a young age and got their taste of postseason baseball almost immediately.
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Yet while they were younger and inexperienced, it didn’t prevent them from showing the world what they were made of. Familiar faces like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, and Albert Almora all grabbed the brass ring.
A list of names who have contributed to the team’s growth. At the end of the day, professional sports are all about business. It will eventually boil down to how teams can save in the long run and who can help steer them in the right direction. Even if it means going through another rebuild.
For several years, several members of this organization have had their names brought up in trade rumors. With team control running out, Hoyer has to decide who goes, and who stays. He took the first step toward doing so this week.
On Wednesday, the team made the decision to non-tender both Schwarber and Almora. We’re talking about two veterans who came up big for the Cubs in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. It was Schwarber, who made his return following a devastating knee injury, getting a lead-off base hit in extras.
Almora then entered the game as a pinch-runner, eventually scoring the go-ahead run thanks to fantastic heads-up baserunning. How odd is it that these two men were the first to be cut loose?
Knowing these early moves is a sign of what is to come makes things even more difficult to process. Again, it is a business, and we knew this day would come, and others will follow. With the first two waves in the books, eyes will surely be fixed on Baez, Bryant and Contreras.
If the Cubs are looking to cash in on their value, this winter will most likely be the best time for Hoyer and company to do so. The landscape is changing once again as we begin our journey toward the next era on the North Side.