Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer spoke for nearly an hour Wednesday morning about the 2021 Cubs and the future of the team, but didn’t really say very much or break any big news.
The news reported Tuesday that hitting coach Anthony Iapoce had been let go was confirmed, with Hoyer noting it was time to “move on,” a sentiment I think many here would agree with. He said that assistant hitting coach Chris Valaika would be considered for the position, but that there would also be a “search process,” so don’t expect this position to be filled soon.
Mike Borzello, who has served in various coaching roles for the Cubs over the last 10 years, including catching coach, assistant pitching coach and this year, “strategy coach,” will also not return. Hoyer hinted that both Borzello and the team felt that 10 years was enough, and it’s possible this role might not be filled, if you read between the lines. He said “the bulk of the coaching staff will be back.”
The other news that was broken here was that there have been “preliminary discussions” with manager David Ross about a contract extension. Last month I suggested that the Cubs should give Ross a two-year extension and I hope that’s what they do. Ross, currently, is entering the final year of a three-year deal in which Year 1 was a pandemic season and Year 2 resulted in the selloff of the World Series core. I believe Ross deserves more time and Hoyer seemed to concur, saying, “I hope David is here for a long time.”
Beyond that, Hoyer was noncommittal on a number of things:
- Contract extensions for players
- Frank Schwindel’s role on the team in 2022, though Hoyer said he was “happy” with what he saw
- Free agents
The latter, of course, is because no player is actually a free agent right now — that doesn’t happen until five days after the World Series ends and naming names now would be tampering. But you wouldn’t expect any baseball executive to tip his hand (or hers, now that Kim Ng is a team executive) on this topic. Hoyer was asked about the financial flexibility the team appears to have at this time. He confirmed that, and that the Cubs do have money to spend, but repeated the word “intelligently” regarding spending that he noted last month. Precisely what that means remains to be seen.
Hoyer did cite the examples of the Giants and Rays, teams that weren’t seen as “winning the offseason” last winter who did wind up having tremendous seasons. He also noted some teams last winter who were perceived as doing a lot of things to make themselves more competitive who didn’t wind up having good years. He didn’t name names there, but I will: The Mets and Padres were two of those teams that were seen as having put together championship rosters last winter, and both teams finished under .500.
Here are a few more highlights of Hoyer’s remarks and answers to questions from reporters.
Hoyer noted that he’s happy the Cubs now have power arms coming up through the system, but also noted that having veteran leadership, particularly in the bullpen, is important. He noted the contributions of Pedro Strop and Andrew Chafin along those lines, and I still hope the Cubs will look into re-signing Chafin, and possibly bringing Strop back into the organization in a coaching or minor league coordinating position.
While Brennen Davis was not among those players sent to the Arizona Fall League, Hoyer hinted that Nico Hoerner (for example) and others could be sent to winter ball somewhere to get some more at-bats and said some discussions had been had on this topic. Regarding Davis, Hoyer said he “hasn’t played as much baseball as some of his peers,” but he “blew past what we expected” and had a “special year, burst on the national stage in the Futures Game and we are excited about his future.”
Hoyer was asked about Jason Heyward’s status and whether it would be worth having him around to, say, mentor Brennen Davis. Again, he was noncommittal, saying only that Heyward had “big offseason plans” to try to improve on his bad 2021 season, calling him a “terrific teammate.” So, I’m pretty sure you’ll see Heyward back with the Cubs next year.
He talked a little about transitioning from thinking they would be buyers at the deadline until the 11-game losing streak turned them into sellers, and saying he was disappointed with the performance on the field and that the team has to be better. He praised Ross for handling things on the field well with using 69 players and all the issues that presented to him.
In all, it seemed to me that the various issues surrounding the Chicago Cubs on the field are understood well by Hoyer and he’s ready to have a busy offseason improving the team for 2022.
There are other things Hoyer mentioned Wednesday morning, so if you missed the news conference or want to watch it again, here it is: