Cubs News: Do these offseason moves signal the start of a teardown?

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

The Cubs made their big trade. What does it mean for the team moving forward?

Face it, we all knew it was coming. We just didn’t know which Cubs player it would be. Kris Bryant has been the most talked-about trade chip since 2018.  Javier Baez rated more than a few Twitter mentions, as has Willson Contreras and even Kyle Hendricks.

In the end, it was 34-year-old Yu Darvish and his battery-mate Victor Caratini who hit the road.  Darvish and his ten wipe out pitches and $59 million, three-year contract went to San Diego. Coming back was one year of 28-year-old Zach Davies and his $8.5 million contract and four prospects, none of whom have played above Rookie-level ball.  The Rays got more MLB-ready prospects from the Padres for Blake Snell.

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Plus, the Cubs absorbed $3 million off Darvish’s contract, a real head-scratcher if there ever was one. You eat contract costs to dump an overpriced underperformer. That’s not Darvish.  Whatever.

At first glance, in fact, at last glance, this looks all the world like it could be a teardown move.  However, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said the trade doesn’t indicate a 2012-2013 tear down, on 670 The Score:

"“I’m not going to run the same playbook that we ran in 2011 and ’12,” Hoyer said. “That would be foolish and …frankly, that playbook has been copied so many times, it doesn’t work the same way anymore.”"

Okay, but then Hoyer went on to discuss the current roster and particularly the core we thought would lead the Cubs to multiple World Series,

"“There are contractual realities to this core group. The fact that we haven’t been able to get these guys to sign extensions that we thought were the right value … I think we’d be foolish not to keep that in mind as we go forward.”"

Then Hoyer went on to dismiss “fictional” speculation about the Cubs shopping Willson Contreras.  I don’t know how you square all those comments.

To cap it all off the Cubs’ president of baseball ops then said they were implementing a small retool/reset.   What does that even mean?  My Cubbies Crib colleague Brian Johnston has an idea on that.  Is it a more difficult path, or just a narrower one, made so by factors beyond Hoyer’s control?

For example, an expiring CBA after 2021 and a likely contentious negotiation, or yet another year of picking up cast-offs because of the luxury tax threshold rules?  Maybe both?

Or perhaps my Cubbies Crib leader Jake Misener got it right…and this isn’t over yet.  Remember, the Epstein teardown took all of 2012, 2013, and a half of 2014 before the rebuild began in earnest at the MLB level.  It could be that by the trade deadline this team is completely different.

dark. Next. Cubs have just as good of a shot at the NL Central as anyone else

The bottom line though is this.  No matter how you slice it, justify it, rationalize it, trading an ace pitcher and the best backup catcher in baseball for a handful of magic beans is not what a team does if it is looking to compete in the near-term.