Cubs President of Baseball Operations spoke with reporters Wednesday morning, and naturally the topic of discussion was the blockbuster deal of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres.
This comment of Hoyer’s caught my eye:
Jed: “Excited” about getting Davies and four prospects for Yu. “Judging that now is kind of a fools’ errand.” Says it was not “financially motivated.”— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) December 30, 2020
That last part... well, I’m pretty sure a lot of you are shaking your head “no” in response to that. Personally, for me the jury’s out. The Cubs certainly did save quite a bit of money making this trade, so what other motivation would there be?
Hoyer: "At some point, you have to make some moves that have an eye on the future."— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) December 30, 2020
Said he still expects to field a really competitive Cubs team in 2021, but this was also about bolstering the farm system and building a bright future.
Well, sure. Absolutely, do that, especially given the sad state of the Cubs farm system as we stand here in December 2020. In fact, if you’d like to know more about the prospects the Cubs acquired, MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis spoke to Marquee Sports Network’s Tony Andracki on that subject, which includes this:
Callis is also intrigued by the Cubs’ work in the international market with the upcoming signing period (Jan. 15) that links the team with one of the top infielders in Cristian Hernandez, who has drawn comparisons to a young Alex Rodriguez or Manny Machado.
The Cubs system could be quite a bit better by the time a 2021 season actually gets underway.
Speaking of which, a “really competitive team” for 2021? Great. Now what about those Willson Contreras trade rumors?
Hoyer says a 'report' from yesterday that Willson Contreras is being shopped is 'fictional'— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) December 30, 2020
Could be splitting hairs/words because the Cubs have talked with teams about him a lot, not just now but in the recent past. But nothing is imminent.
I am certain that other teams call the Cubs inquiring about Contreras’ availability all the time. That very well might have picked up steam after the Darvish trade.
If Hoyer intends to put a “really competitive team” on the field in 2021, trading Contreras wouldn’t accomplish that goal. They can probably put such a team on the field without Yu Darvish; Zach Davies isn’t a great pitcher, but he’s serviceable, and they have freed up enough money to (perhaps) bring on board another one, or a hitter or two, or hand out contract extensions to current players. About competing in 2021?
Most important thing Jed Hoyer has said so far is that the timeline of the very young prospects that the Cubs got from the Padres isn't necessarily the timeline for them competing (again)— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) December 30, 2020
Clear as mud, I know. One more thing about the 2021 team:
Jed says Amaya won’t be an option to start 2021. Will probably be looking for a backup to @WContreras40— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) December 30, 2020
There’s a list of free-agent catchers here; the Cubs could, perhaps, have a reunion with former backups Alex Avila or Rene Rivera.
Say, Yadier Molina is on that list. You don’t suppose...
Nah. That’d be just too weird.
Until and unless the Cubs dump other key starting players by trade, I will continue to believe that they are attempting to free up some money to extend some of the core players and perhaps to re-tool via free agency next offseason.
As always, we await developments.