After the Chicago Cubs broke up the band at the deadline, Jed Hoyer had some interesting comments explaining his actions. While he ultimately made the right choice to let the core go and jumpstart a re-tooling phase with a reloaded farm system, his explanation on Monday for why extensions didn’t get done with any of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, or Kris Bryant essentially backed the team bus right over the players. Moreover, the back and forth between Hoyer and Rizzo should give free agents pause before coming to the North Side.
Rizzo had a lot to say about Hoyer’s claim that the players essentially negotiated in bad faith. In an appearance on the Kap & J. Hood show, he said he was in disbelief as to why Hoyer was coming out with all of this, saying that it sounded like a “bad breakup” that the organization wasn’t ready to get over. He also put the organization on full blast over their attempts at negotiation:
"“When it comes to the guys on our team and what we did – Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, MVPs, Rookie of the Years, and good people – those things cost money. So it comes down to a business. You want your cake and you want to eat it, too. That’s just how it seemed. I think it can all speak for itself that there’s a common denominator is that no one signed,” Rizzo said."
Rizzo’s statements track with what we’ve seen up to now. He turned down a five-year, $70 million contract that was far off from what he was looking for and another team-friendly deal on top of his previous extension. The fact Hoyer touted deals like this as “fair market value” and blamed players for not working with him is both insulting and very telling as to the team’s unwillingness to pay up.
Anthony Rizzo showed that the Chicago Cubs don’t respect their talent
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From a free agent’s perspective, this is a massive red flag. For one, Hoyer’s original statement bashing the players doesn’t look good for any players looking to make their long-term home in Chicago. This kind of petty, bitter treatment comes towards face-of-the-franchise players responsible for breaking the 108-year World Series drought and bringing hope to a city accustomed to heartbreak.
Why would any player worth their salt want to deal with that if that’s how they treat marquee players?
Second, Rizzo’s comments also speak to something we’ve seen for years now: an unwillingness to invest in the on-field product. Yet, there’s something more sinister in that it sounds like the Cubs expected team-friendly deals. They expected guys to roll over and accept below-market bargains.
With regards to all three of those guys, it’s good reason to avoid the Cubs in free agency, but it indicates to other potential free agents that their talent isn’t going to be respected by ownership or the front office.
In all, it doesn’t offer a lot of hope in free agency this offseason. Given the lackluster deals offered to the core and the parting shots fired when they didn’t take those deals, it seems they’re just fine with taking a few years to develop a young, cheap core if free agents don’t want to take a Chicago discount.
Hoyer’s since walked back his comments, but the point stands that players will take a long look at Rizzo and Hoyer’s comments before they put ink to paper.