When Theo Epstein packed his bags and left the offices at Gallagher Way, it was widely assumed Jed Hoyer would take the reins. Despite helping end a 108-year championship drought and assembling the most successful Cubs roster in generations, there were a good many fans who weren’t happy with that decision.
When Hoyer traded 2020 NL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish to San Diego in Dec. 2020, emotions ran high. We saw the short-term impact of that decision in a ghastly starting rotation last season, but, with time, are beginning to see what the long-term returns could look like, as well.
Two of the names that came back in that deal, Owen Caissie and Reginald Preciado, have popped up on Baseball Prospectus‘ preseason top 100 prospects list – and, again, both of them came back just in the Darvish trade.
Pundits across the game showered the Cubs front office with praise in the returns they netted for the likes of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. For two months of Baez, Hoyer pried away 2020 first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong from the Mets. Rizzo helped the Cubs land Kevin Alcantara and right-hander Alexander Vizcaino.
Alcantara is already on the brink of cracking the organization’s top five prospects, according to Baseball America – another feather in Hoyer’s cap. Most notably, Caleb Kilian looks incredibly promising among the prospects who came back in the Bryant trade. Let’s not forget the additions of Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer from the Sox back in July, either.
Chicago Cubs: Jed Hoyer is, so far, executing a nice balancing act
Getting a group of promising prospects isn’t enough to make fans give a front office carte blanche moving forward. But the surprise signing of Marcus Stroman turned heads – and showed that, true to his word, Hoyer is hoping to thread the needle over the next couple years as those prospects work their way through the system.
Regardless of what happens with Willson Contreras, the Yan Gomes signing had to happen after the debacle that was the backup catcher’s role in 2021. Reclamation projects like Clint Frazier do nothing to hurt the team in 2022 – and the additions of Stroman and Wade Miley give Chicago a drastically more reliable rotation mix heading into the year.
We can’t yet give the Chicago front office – and its leader – an offseason grade because, well, it’s not over. Once the lockout lifts, things are going to move quickly and, then, we’ll be able to look at the big picture and what this roster looks like. But, to this point, Hoyer has shown the ability to make unpopular decisions and stick to his guns – while also sticking to his word – something that’s always important to Cubs fans.