Cubs kept running it back – while tirelessly watching their spending
Despite that September collapse and subsequent Wild Card Game loss in the 2018 postseason, Epstein did little to shore up a roster that was clearly flawed. He stuck with manager Joe Maddon, and the most notable offseason acquisition that winter was veteran infielder Daniel Descalso.
Bryce Harper was a free agent. Cubs fans were smitten with the idea of Harper teaming up with longtime friend Kris Bryant for years to come on the North Side. But that was not to come to fruition. Missteps by Epstein had backed him into a corner in the eyes of ownership – which was no longer willing to keep throwing money at the roster in order to fix it.
Essentially, Epstein and the front office was tasked to lie in the bed it had made.
The result? Well, you guessed it. Chicago won just 84 games, despite a midseason signing of Craig Kimbrel – finishing third in the NL Central and missing the postseason for the first time since 2014. The Cubs and Maddon went their separate ways, bringing about a new era on the North Side.
A managerial search that always seemed destined to end with David Ross getting the job concluded in late October 2019. So was this a precursor to major change and roster shake-up. Hardly.