Yesterday was hard. No other way to describe what happened. Watching the greatest Chicago Cubs team in my life time being sold off piece by piece was painful. Even though I knew this was going to happen, I was still in a bit of shock. Yesterday a part of me died each time someone from the 2016 World Series champions left. They were officially and finally closing the door of what can only be described as one of the greatest moments in the lives of Chicago Cub fans.
I understand the business of baseball. Whether you believe the Cubs did enough to keep them here or not is not for me to argue. What we do know is that the Cubs did make offers to the three core players, all of which were declined. We also know that the players (specifically Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo) looked heart broken when they were told they were being traded. They appeared to have wanted to stay. Who can blame them? This was their first real Major League team. While Rizzo made his debut with the San Diego Padres, that was just for a cup of coffee. The Cubs were his true first team.
While many people currently hate Jed Hoyer for “what he has done,” yesterday had to have been hard for him…especially the trading of Rizzo on Thursday. Think about all that has taken place between those two over the years. From Rizzo being drafted, diagnosed with cancer, to trading for him in San Diego, to the trade to the Cubs. Those two have traveled a road together longer and closer than probably any other pairing in baseball. The relationship between the two is the only reason I see his coming back to the Cubs in free agency as a possibility.
However, the fire sale, white flag trades, whatever you want to call what happened, had to happen. There was no other way. Other than Craig Kimbrel, everyone was a pure rental for two months. There was no guarantee that Rizzo, Bryant or Javier Báez would re-sign before they hit free agency. You could not just let them walk away for nothing. Sure, you could have gotten a qualifying offer rejection pick from whatever team signed them. You could have gotten a compensation pick. But that would not have been enough of a return for who and what they were. They had to be traded. This is not even factoring in the current CBA which is coming to an end.
Looking at the trades though, the Cubs did not do all too bad in returns.
Newest Cubs, w/pre-2021 rankings.
1B Bryce Ball (ATL #12)
OF Greg Deichmann (OAK #12)
P Daniel Palencia (OAK #19)
P Bailey Horn (CHW #23)
P Alexander Vizcaino (NYY #9)
OF Kevin Alcantara (NYY #12)
2B Nick Madrigal (CWS #3)
P Codi Heuer (CWS #11)
Javier Báez & Trevor Williams
OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (NYM #5)
OF Alexander Canario (SF #9)
RHP Caleb Kilian (SF #30)
Anderson Espinoza (Padres #9)
While minor leaguers are always a “scratch and win ticket,” the Cubs got back many of these teams’ top prospects. They didn’t get close to THE top prospect, but people who are a lot smarter than I am really like the players the Cubs have gotten in return. Three of them are already listed in the Cubs top 10 (Armstrong #6, Canario #7, Vizcano #8) and three more to round out the top 20 (Alcantara #11, Killian #16, Deichman #20). None, however, are a top 100 in all of baseball which is a little disappointing. That said, whether the new Cubs farm system rankings show how good these players are or how bad the Cubs farm system was I will leave for you to decide.
The Cubs are reverting back to a complete tear down and rebuild. We as fans are going to have to once again wait as Hoyer puts his plan into effect. Things will get ugly, and fans will complain as they have every right to do (and will be justified in doing so as things could get very ugly just as they did from 2012-2014. But remember what happened after those three years? Six of the greatest years we have ever witnessed.
Trust me, I do not want to relive those years again. Watching the games made me sick. Going to those games was draining and were more exhausting than a day at work. But they were worth the ending.