The reckoning is coming for the Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein talked about it years ago – but kept pushing it off until, now, when his protege and successor Jed Hoyer has no choice but to face it head-on.
Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel all come off the books (along with many more smaller-name players on lesser deals) at year’s end. Extension talks with Rizzo derailed quickly after the team gave him a pretty insultingly low offer, Baez turned down nearly $200 million last spring and has since been one of the worst players in the league and Bryant seems almost certain to move on after 2021 – if not sometime this year.
That means Hoyer will have the chance to completely re-think this roster and how it’s built, hopefully with a reloaded war chest from the Ricketts family. It’ll be a jarring sight to see someone like Rizzo come to Wrigley wearing a different uniform – but the team’s repeated attempts to run it back over and over have failed spectacularly.
Cubs have to succeed in replacing Javier Baez at shortstop
Given Chicago will have a vacancy at shortstop, Hoyer needs to go big in replacing Baez. That means one of Carlos Correa, Trevor Story or Corey Seager. Personally, I’d prefer Correa or Seager – with a strong emphasis on the latter, who will undoubtedly come with a higher price tag, as well.
Seager, the MVP of last season’s NLCS and Fall Classic, doesn’t turn 28 until next April, making him a prime candidate for a long-term deal. In 52 games last season, the former first-rounder hit .307/.358/.585 before torching opponents come October with some gaudy numbers.
Losing their big three, Chicago has to do something drastic to rebuild the offense. Unlike Baez, Seager not only drives the ball for extra bases, but is a huge contact presence. What better way to change the offensive identity of the club than signing the two-time All-Star to a deal and building out the lineup around him?