With my wife away this weekend, I embarked on my typical spree of home improvement projects. I’m a big DIY guy – and this time around, I needed to patch and re-seal my asphalt driveway, re-paint the screened-in porch and touch up some other spots and then go through my typical day-to-day stuff.
All this to say when I finished sealing the driveway Sunday morning, I treated myself to some Culver’s. Sitting in the drive-thru, Jim Bowden was talking on MLB Network Radio specifically about the Chicago Cubs and how, under no circumstance, can they be considered sellers anymore. That makes sense given the team is a season-high 10 games over .500 at this point and are one game away from sending the rival Cardinals to a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field this weekend.
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He went on to point out, though, that guys like Willson Contreras (yes, he lumped the Cubs catcher in with this group), Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez are playing for much more than a title right now. Bowden believes this year’s impending trio of free agents all want to stay in Chicago – and that winning will make that more possible on all fronts.
That makes sense if you stop and think about it. It’s a lot more enticing if you’re Tom Ricketts to bring back three fan favorites if all guys are playing at a high level, filling the seats at Wrigley and helping you sell memorabilia throughout Wrigleyville. Yes, that also means the price tag on each player is also higher, but there’s definitely more reward to be had here.
Shocking, I know. But fielding a winning team means more revenue. Revenue for the Chicago Cubs exceeded $400 million annually from 2016 to 2019 before the pandemic-shortened 2020 season put an end to that streak. With maximum capacity allowed far sooner than anyone believed back in December, it stands to reason the organization’s financial picture will wind up being far rosier than once thought by year’s end.
Chicago Cubs could shock us all and keep Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo
For what it’s worth, I know a lot of folks loathe Bowden. That’s fine. We’re looking past that to the larger picture here. He also ranked the trio (while simultaneously saying he wants to bring back all three rather than picking one) in order of whose agent he’d call first at season’s end: Bryant, Baez and Rizzo.
That’s probably – and I stress ‘probably’ – the same order I’d go with. Bryant is the first player ever to put up a .900 OPS while appearing in at least 10 games at five different positions in a season and is very much an MVP candidate. Baez is the youngest of the three and, as we all know, can do tremendous things on a diamond and Rizzo is the unofficial captain, although also the oldest.
So maybe, just maybe, these guys aren’t just auditioning for their next teams. Maybe, instead, they’re proving their worth to the Chicago Cubs ownership and front office in hopes of shocking us all and keeping the band together for years to come.