Optimism in Chicago. After a report at the beginning of the season stating “big money spending would be back soon enough“, Jed Hoyer has redoubled his efforts by stating the team plans to be “really active” in free agency. Of course, spending big money in free agency and being really active could mean two different things.
For one, the Cubs need starting pitching desperately and there’s plenty of it available this winter. Furthermore, it remains to be seen what the organization will decide to do regarding the outfield. With Ian Happ’s resurgence and Heyward’s unavoidable contract, it will be interesting to see if Cubs top prospect Brennen Davis will make the roster out of camp in the spring, thus saving the team several dollars in the process.
Spending cheap in the outfield this winter with the idea Rafael Ortega will be in the mix while waiting for Davis to be fully ready to man center field is the most viable option for the Cubs in that department.
Of course, with Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal up the middle, along with Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel presumably at the corners, it really makes the most sense for the Cubs to spend on the rotation and once again fortify the bullpen for next year.
“We plan to be really active in free agency. We plan to spend money intelligently. We’re scouting that market heavily. We’re going to analyze that market heavily. There’s offseasons when free agency is something you do a little bit of, and obviously we have to be a little more active than usual to fill out our roster, because we have a lot more open spots.”
To analyze more thoroughly, “spending money intelligently” could be perceived in a multitude of ways. For one, “intelligently” could mean as financially sparing as possible to find value for your ball club. For two, Hoyer could simply be informing that he knows where the smartest place to spend big is this offseason. That place is the starting rotation.
As the head of one of the most high-profile organizations in baseball, you don’t just come out and state exactly what your plans are. That gives teams with the same thought process the opportunity to block you from what you are trying to achieve this winter. The more secrecy inside of the organization regarding free agency, the better.
If anything, Hoyer is giving glimpes of what to expect this winter. After relationships have been soured this year with the core being dismantled and the lack of trust between players and the front office, Hoyer seems intent on doing the best he can to right any wrongs. However, how much blame can be put on Hoyer for not having more in-depth contract extensions talks if he is only green-lighted a certain amount of funds to spend?
Chicago Cubs: Offseason will be largely determined by ownership once again
Tom Ricketts will be a major part of this offseason. Hoyer can fully be trusted to do his job properly and bring winning baseball back to the North Side – if he is allowed to do so. His success will simply be contingent upon how strict of a budget Ricketts puts out this offseason. Ultimately, it is important to know that Hoyer can only do so much with what he is given and blame needs to fall elsewhere if the Cubs don’t become super aggressive this winter. If Ricketts was letting him spend big and Hoyer simply wasn’t doing so, Hoyer wouldn’t still have a job.
The brunt of the blame needs to fall elsewhere this offseason if the Cubs don’t automatically turn the ship around. Hoyer’s track record when given the green light to spend is not something that is against him. Although Theo Epstein was the President of Baseball Operations in 2016, Hoyer was still a big part of the front office and not enough credit goes his way for his part in things. He also helped secure the services of Yu Darvish and Craig Kimbrel. When allowed to spend, Hoyer has done well. It will all be up to how much Ricketts decides to open up the checkbook this winter.