Contreras will likely be gone at the trade deadline (Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports)
Contreras will likely be gone at the trade deadline (Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports)

Commentary: Cubs hid behind the words 'retooling' over offseason


by - Staff Writer -

It is certainly a frustrating time to be a Cubs fan. It has been well documented that the Cubs boast one of the wealthiest franchises in the sport, with multiple large revenue streams and the most expensive fan experience in baseball. However, fans are forced to watch what is now the second full-blown rebuild in a decade, and settle for a bottom-feeder team going to battle night after night.

Not good.

Jed Hoyer was forced into this spot when Theo Epstein handed him the keys to the franchise before the 2021 season. What faced Hoyer was an aging core heading into their prospective walk years. Throughout the 2021 season, Hoyer made the frustrating but correct decision to depart with over 10 players in an effort to restock the farm system and rebuild the Cubs toward success quickly. While they may have made the playoffs in 2018 and 2020, the Cubs have not won a playoff series since 2017 — so it was time to move on. The problem was that Theo Epstein waited too long, and it made Hoyer look like the villain.

Since Hoyer has taken over, the Cubs have traded Yu Darvish, Victor Caratini, Joc Pederson, Anthony Rizzo, Jake Marisnick, Trevor Williams, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera, and Andrew Chafin away, stockpiling nearly 20 prospects to restore the Cubs’ farm system.

The Cubs have since climbed up prospect rankings lists, and their on-field performances have struggled. However, many around the industry believe that if the Cubs knew extensions were not going to happen with their perspective players, trading them with more years of control left (more value) could get the Cubs more of a prospect haul back in return. However, Theo Epstein was in charge of that last batch of players, so you can’t totally blame Hoyer, right? You’d think once Hoyer took over, he would certainly not put himself in the same hamstring of a situation that Theo Epstein left him in, right?

Wrong.

Hoyer was faced with a similar situation now, and after watching the way last season played out, he did not change his ways. Willson Contreras, among others, appear to be lame ducks — waiting to hear which plane they have to catch as the trade deadline looms. Contreras’ value is extremely high, and he would be an excellent choice to build around for the next great Cubs team. Which many believed would be the case after last season’s firesale did not include a move from Contreras.

If the Cubs knew Contreras wasn’t going to be a part of the next great Cubs team, why not trade him last year where his control and value were both high. Instead, many got the inkling that the passionate Contreras was going to be the cornerstone of the next great Cubs team, and the gap to bridge from one championship core to another. Instead, Contreras’ 14+ year stint with the organization looks to be coming to an end — along with Ian Happ, David Robertson, Michal Givens, and more.

The Cubs hid behind the words retooling over the offseason, but it is very clear that rebuilding for the second time in ten years is exactly what the Cubs are doing — stockpiling the farm system and crossing their fingers for another jackpot core. But will they keep those players after arbitration?

Why not extend the league’s best catcher to be a part of the next great Cubs team, instead of crossing your fingers and hoping these prospects will eventually fill Contreras’ shoes and presence.

Epstein may have given the power over to Hoyer in a difficult spot, but Hoyer had an opportunity to avoid this heartbreak.

Instead, the writing appears to be on the wall once again for a different all-star, this time Willson Contreras, to find a new home — and Jed Hoyer finds himself in a familiar, yet terrible, place to be.

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