Over the last few years, we have witnessed the shift being utilized more and more within the game. Today, however, I'm not talking about about a defensive shift in accordance with a player's hitting tendencies. I'm talking about the shift that has become quite obvious in regards to the Cubs' attitude toward the trading deadline.
Previously, the belief was held that anything that wasn't nailed down at Addison and Clark was free to be moved. But in recent days we have learned the Cubs no longer feel that way.
Yes, the Cubs will still be open to moving players that they do not see as a part of their future. Impending free agents or players who could still bring something back moving forward could be likely moved here in the next day or two.
Think Emilio Bonifacio and Carlos Villanueva (impending free agents) or James Russell and Wesley Wright as guys who could have new addresses. It is really refreshing to know a Jake Arrieta isn't going anywhere.
But players such as Chris Coghlan or Justin Ruggiano will not be needlessly pedaled away. There is a reason for this. The Cubs are now looking ahead to next year when they feel they can field a competitive ballclub. GM Jed Hoyer admitted as much to Patrick Mooney.
“We’ve been pretty aware of moving those guys as we think about how we have to put the team together next year,” Hoyer said. “The free-agent markets are pretty thin now. You can trade a guy that (will be) under club control. (But) unless you’ve got a prospect that can do that same job, all that means is you’re right back on the market this winter, trying to find virtually the same skill set.”
Talking with people around the game over the last few days, the sense is the Cubs will have enough talent on the field to approach even a (gasp!) .500 outfit. Role players like Ruggiano could actually be quite useful in plugging the holes that are not filled by top-flight prospects.
Fortunately for the Cubs, they already made their big deal by trading Jeff Samardzija for a top prospect in Addison Russell. Imagine if the A's thought they could have landed Jon Lester or David Price instead. You wonder if it would've changed the landscape dramatically for this front office.
“It’s probably a little bit less pressure-packed,” GM Jed Hoyer admitted Tuesday while being surrounded by reporters at Wrigley Field. “There would be a lot more pressure to get a deal, especially with the number of starting pitchers currently on the trade market.”
This was a huge and timely move for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to be out in front of the market. Unfortunately, the Cubs can't move the one piece they would like to in Edwin Jackson. That may be a sunk cost, but that is a topic for another post.
In the meantime, let's take solace in the fact that this regime is practicing a different ballclub construction. They are actually building, putting together a team that has a chance to compete for wins, rather than just for a high draft pick.
That's quite a shift, and a welcomed one.
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