Baseball’s offseason has long lacked the pomp and circumstance you see in other leagues like the NBA and NFL. It’s much closer to a marathon than a high-stakes sprint. This offseason, in particular, has seen free agency and the hot stove, as a whole, slow to a crawl.
Chicago Cubs fans are well aware of this fact. The team has tendered just one big league contract – a $750,000 deal with former Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder – despite several glaring holes on the roster.
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Meanwhile, we’ve watched Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Schwarber, Jose Martinez, Jason Kipnis and Albert Almora depart (among others). A handful of minor league deals have been the Cubs’ answer to this point – and it seems unlikely they’ll stray very far from that path.
According to The Athletic (subscription required), the front office is well aware the roster needs an overhaul and is unlikely to spend big chunks of their freed-up financial resources until that changes. That’s unlikely to be anytime soon with much of the club’s minor league depth still a couple years (at least) from being ready for the big stage.
The team avoided arbitration with its three big-name guys in Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras. A move of Bryant, would be considered for a lot less than anything involving the Cubs catcher. Really, Jed Hoyer just wants to clear that $19.5 million off the books and get a decent bunch of prospects in return for the former NL MVP.
But trading a franchise cornerstone who ranked as one of the league’s most valuable position players for the better part of a decade in what essentially amounts to a salary dump isn’t likely to make Hoyer many friends, that’s for sure.
The position players aside, Chicago desperately needs to shore up its pitching depth. They lack even a middle-of-the-road rotation and will rely heavily on young, unproven arms to round out the staff. They have a bullpen that could go either way and a closer who they hope will return to form so they can flip him at the trade deadline.
There’s still time for the Cubs to find a handful of buy-low guys to address the holes on the roster before the season opens. Odds are, it’ll be a lot of one-year deals in hopes of, like with many of their current guys, potentially trading them for youth during the season.
This isn’t going to be a season like what we’ve grown accustomed to since 2015. This is the beginning of the end, at least for this era in Cubs baseball, and the beginning of something that will take some patience, test some patience and leave us all, again, saying, “Wait till next year.”