Chicago Cubs: It’s time for Tom Ricketts to sell the team

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Between a literal refusal to spend any money and yet another reminder of potential character issues in the organization, it’s time for Tom Ricketts to do what’s best for the franchise.

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts needs to sell the team. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be saying this a few years ago. After all, we were supposedly entering a dynastic period after winning it all in 2016. But all that good will has gone up in flames.

Jared Porter, a former high-ranking member of the Cubs front office, got the boot from his job as the Mets’ new GM after despicable reports emerged regarding his behavior. Of course, in the past, Chicago was fine looking past off-field issues with players – including key contributors to the 2016 team in Addison Russell and Aroldis Chapman. This is just the latest indicator that the franchise has some real soul-searching to do.

If that’s not a big enough red flag for you, Ricketts refused to give Jed Hoyer the nod when it came to retaining perhaps the most iconic free agent signing in team history in Jon Lester. In fact, he wouldn’t even permit Hoyer to offer him less than what he wound up signing with the Nationals for. That’s inexcusable – for a wide variety of reasons.

It’s funny how 2016 and 2020 look so different from each other. In 2016, the Cubs came storming back from a 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians to claim the World Series. In 2020, they went wire-to-wire to claim the NL Central before a quick postseason exit.

Cubs haven’t been players in free agency lately under Tom Ricketts

The bigger issue at play has been the team’s complete absence in the free agent market for several years now. The only position player to get a multi-year deal from Chicago of late? Daniel Descalso. Given you knew the roster had major holes, that’s an unacceptable course of action.

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In 2009, the sale of the team to Ricketts – along with his family – was approved. The family poured money into Wrigley Field and brought in Theo Epstein to overhaul the baseball operations department. Now, the Friendly Confines and the surrounding area are completely renovated – unrecognizable to fans from yesteryear.

After a lengthy rebuild, everything clicked in 2015, when they advanced to the NLCS for the first time since 2003. The next year, they got the job done, winning the franchise’s first championship in over a century. At that point, you’d think Ricketts would be beloved for the rest of his days. But you’d be wrong.

Over the next few years, it was a mixed bag – in the sense fans wanted multiple titles. In 2017, a clearly exhausted Cubs team willed its way to the NLCS before being trampled by the Dodgers. A late-season collapse in 2018 prompted a Game 163 against Milwaukee (which the Cubs lost), pushing the club into the Wild Card Game (which they also lost). The next year? They missed the postseason altogether.

After that happened, Joe Maddon and his restaurant packed up and left town and the reins were handed over to David Ross. Of course, the pandemic-shortened 2020 season was anything but typical – and the loss of tens of millions of dollars in revenue has been the crutch of many owners, including Ricketts, in the months since the season ended.

He’s talked of ‘biblical losses’ and has claimed debt north of $1 billion. If that truly is the case, there’s no alternative. Ricketts must cut his losses and seek a buyer for the team. He put all his eggs in the game day basket – and 2020 leveled a potentially fatal blow to his financial prospects as far as the Cubs are concerned.

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So let go of Ricketts. Crane Kenney, too. We need more transparency from this organization – and as long as Ricketts is at the helm, it doesn’t seem like that’s what we’re going to get.