Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said today that he believes the club is prepared to compete in the NL Central next year, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. “I think we’ve proved we can be very competitive in this division,” said Epstein, “and when you have a chance to compete, you should set your sights high and that means our goal is the Central title next year.”
While those words would appear to indicate that Chicago will increasingly be willing to dedicate resources to improve the production of its current roster, Epstein cautioned that the team would not “sell out just for 2015.” It will, however, look to add talent — in particular, some starting pitching, a pen lefty, and new outfield options — through all available mechanisms, including free agency.
Epstein says, unsurprisingly, that the team remains committed to relying on its young talent to drive a resurgence. In spite of his struggles, Javier Baez is expected to open the season as the starter at second. Other less experienced players will presumably keep or expand their roles as well. Epstein specifically addressed relievers Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm, who he said would stay in the pen rather than being stretched out as starters.
Certainly, the Cubs are a fascinating team to watch as free agency approaches. Many of the club’s best prospects have already reached or are nearing the major league level. Future salary obligations are minimal. And long-anticipated Wrigley Field renovations — which have often been connected to payroll capacity by ownership and the front office — are now underway.
Hmmm…and every season is sacred, right? We’ve heard this tale before. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Best line from Presser:
Theo: “People who have been paying attention” are excited about the Cubs’ future.
I don’t think any general manager has ever said that his team had no intention of competing next season. Mr. Epstein is simply stating the obvious: for every MLB team, after every unsuccessful season, there is always the promise of “wait tll next year”.
The point here is how the comment relates to the team’s offseason plans. I don’t think he’d be saying something like this if he didn’t expect to try to do something to add present talent to the roster. They’ve already committed to biting the PR bullet with rebuilding; why would he raise expectations now if there was no intent to at least try to supplement the team’s key young players with some new talent?
plus he’s got a good core to build around now. the only issue i see is who is it that’s going to be available? i haven’t looked at the FA list lately but last time I did it seemed very underwhelming.
It is fairly rich in starting pitching. And plenty of turnaround type corner outfield guys who could be had on one-year deals (and who would probably love to have a chance to hit balls out of Wrigley).
Are the Cubs really in the market for an OF? I’m just assuming Soler is set in right (he would have been up much sooner if not for injuries). Coghlan, a former ROY, was one of the better hitters in the lineup and is still under control for a few years. And Alcantara is one of the young pieces they want to build around, is he not? I just don’t see much room out there, especially considering they’ve already stated Bryant will get some play in the OF.
Maybe, maybe not. There’s been some indication they might be in that market. They could certainly just roll with the guys they have — including Alcantara — but that seems to be the best place to roll the dice on a veteran who is forced to settle for a pillow contract. (Both b/c of the Cubs’ options and the free agents who are out there.)
John Lester pls
He’s a Cubs fan, give him a break.
Sigh… Lets set our sights high… Central Division Title? I mean if you’re giving lip service, why not say World Series! As a Cubs fan while not out of the realm of possibilities, unless some players take some major steps next year its hard to say its a play off team under its current roster. Just find it odd that he sets his sites high but stops at a division title.
I mean, when a GM makes a comment like this, it’s unnecessary to say they can also win a world series since it is already implied. When do you hear a GM say “I think we can compete for a division title, but not a world series”?
I, on the other hand, think the Cubs are a dark horse candidate for 2015. Sure the division is strong. But with all the young talent near/are major league ready and a few key acquisitions, this team could really surprise some people. If they sign Martin, one of Lester/Scherzer/Shields, and a bullpen piece, that could go a long ways towards competing.
You’re right, I just find it odd some GMs go straight to the top while others like Theo keep things tempered in their expectations. I bet if we searched we could find Theo making this statement last year about this time..
I think the Cubs will be a competitive team next year but when that conversation includes a lot of “if” I’m not gonna consider them a play off hopeful. He makes some really impressive acquisitions, who knows what can happen, but for now I’m watching the play offs just like the Cubs.
Theo indicated this past season was more of a rebuilding year since very little of the young talent was major league ready, as well as guys like Castro and Rizzo coming off down years.
Now that those two are coming off strong years and you now have guys like Baez, Alcantara, and Soler up as well as guys like Russell, Bryant, and Schwarber on the brink of being called up; this club is much closer than ever to contending. It just all depends how fast they will develop.
Dont forget Almora! Everyone seems to over look him
I almost mentioned him, but he seemed to have a down year at AA. Nonetheless you’re right. He should improve next year.
Well this time last year was all about the firing of Sveum, but I know I read an article last year where Theo laid out why the Cubs could compete in 2014 and weren’t as far behind. And it was part of his reasoning for explaining the previous years signing of EJax.
I think “could” was the emphasized word. Anything could happen in baseball which is probably why he said that, but I doubt he was overly optimistic. Now, he says he “intends” for the Cubs to be competitive next season, meaning he now has higher expectations than ever before.
The Jackson signing you mention is a good point. But since it was a long term deal, I’m sure Theo thought that signing would have more of an impact the latter half of that deal.
Yeah that was his point with EJax was when we would compete would have a solid rotation piece already familiar with the system and guiding the young guys on up. Sadly didn’t work out as intended.
They’ll have a lot of young players still figuring out the mlb game. The potential is certainly there in 15, and with pitching almost all teams have a shot now…its interesting. I could see a season of two halves
I’ve actually never heard Theo talk about competing for any type of title since he came on as Chicago’s GM. Every year I’ve heard him use the word rebuild though, and it’s refreshing to hear the Cubs will finally be spending the money to compete against the Cards, Bucs, and, in a way, the Brewers.
Division title would be a good goal for next year with anything after that a bonus.
Im with you I waited a while to see the cubs play on the big stage, but you have to walk before you can run.
Theo said he wants new outfielders, a lhp for the pen and some much needed sp. Now not every trade or signing will pan out. If they do awesome but typically they all wont. Just like you dont know if all of the young guys will take a step forward in 2015.
Not to mention the bryant situation. I cant wait to see what the Front office says when he has a great spring, and they want to send him down to save service time.
Good news its only 9/30 and the whole off season is ahead of us and we get to see what Jed and Theo have in store
I would submit that anything after a division title is always a bonus, no matter how good the team.
Going to the playoffs is like going to Vegas with a good Blackjack team.
Because he knows, as presently constructed, the Cubs do not have a WS contending team. He will make improvements over the winter and maybe sniff a wild card. His target, I believe, is too make a major push in 2016.
2015 no way… probably 2016
Maybe like a Royals trajectory, how they were somewhat competitive through 2013
He thinks they’ve proved they can be competitive in the division? How so?
That said, good. Stop with the endless rebuilds and go for it. You only live once and generations of Cubs fans have come into this world and left it without seeing Wrigley Field purged of its goat curse.
To be fair, I believe this is the first time the Cubs have actually gone through the process of “rebuilding.” Most Cubs fans with common sense have bitten their tongues during this time, knowing the franchise isn’t once again trying to remedy its woes by signing “big” FAs.
Theo needs to get real real though. Baez and Alcantara can’t man everyday positions. Neither are ready and I’m not a huge believer in either. The combination of strikeouts and lousy OBPs will never fly regardless of their other skills. Bryant, Russell and Soler are ready to contribute at the big league level. Schwarber looks like a professional hitter with pop. Rizzo and Castro are fine. They need to sign some guys in the free agent market and be real. BAEZ for all his pop and steady defense needs more work in the minors.
Don’t quit your day job…
Find me a guy who struck out 230 times+ in the minors+majors in a single season, who also that does not walk much and has had a successful career. You won’t find one that was more successful than Tony Batista or Mark Reynolds. If you find me one since 1950…….. I will eat crow. Fortunately I invested well and don’t have to work at the moment.
Adamn Dunn struck out 222 times in 2012 but hit 41 HR and almost a hundo RBI’s….is that close enough?! 🙂
No……it’s not close at all. It took him 105 walks to get his OBP to 333 and his wRC+ to 115. Has Baez shown the ability to take BB at an elite or even average pace. No he has not. One thing about minor league numbers that is predictable at the big league level is K/BB ratio. As a matter of fact a bad k/BB ratio in the minors is almost ALWAYS worse in the bigs and is extremely hard to improve much. I like Baez but his flaws are at best extremely concerning.
Javier Baez’s OPS outside Coor’s was .505.
Coincidence. There is no one in baseball who thinks the difference in Coors/any other stadium is going to have a significant impact on Javy’s power. He has some of the most raw power in the majors. His issue is pitch recognition and contact. He tries to use that power on every pitch, regardless of situation or even pitch location.
He looked pretty foolish in the Majors, and I’d discount him if it weren’t for his reputation as a hard worker and the fact that he’ll be working 1 on 1 with Manny in the off-season. Would love to see Manny take over as assistant hitting coach as well.
They need to keep him away from Manny outside of the ballpark. Have Manny rig up Baez with the pitching machine that throws those 92 mph sliders on the outside corner and let Baez try to scorch those to right field. It worked for Belle and Manny. Feed Baez some of that. Laying off the high hard stuff is something Baez is going to have to do for himself.
YOLO, Theo. YOLO.
Theo was a cat’s name he easily has 9 lives.
Really hope Arrieta is a legit front-line starter. A #1 guy for 32, 33 starts would do wonders for this club, and that’s not even considering the potential addition of either Lester or Scherzer.
I think Arrieta will be that guy some day just not next year. He will be a great #2 in 2015 though. With one of Scherzer/Lester/Sheilds ahead of him.
Price and Shark will be FA after next season. Shark said he wants to come back. Get Lester now add Shark and Price next year. Cole Hamels has also said he will waive his no trade clause for Chicago. You’d have quite a solid starting rotation. Add Arrieta and Hendricks. That doesn’t include the pitchers in the minors that aren’t being mentioned much. CJ Edwards should be a solid pitcher. If any of those guys like Lester will take a salary hit to bring a title to chicago you could really do some FA SP damage. If you got three solid starters and bring a title to Chicago you’d be a legend.
Hoping the Cubs go after Lester and Shields but stay away from Scherzer. Scherzer’s mechanics make him a ticking time bomb IMO.
I wonder if Baez could net you guys Cueto? Cincy needs to take a roll of the dice on offense (which Baez is) and the Cubs could extend Cueto as well as sign a top free agent pitcher. It might get you where you want to get much quicker.
I’d do it in a heartbeat, but I’m in the very small minority of Cubs fans who don’t think that highly of Baez. I guess would depend on which teams still do…
Yeah I’d love to tell every Cub fan that I think Baez will succeed at the big league level but I’ve sorted for everything he does well and does not do well, power plate discipline, age, run environment etc.. I have nothing against him and his raw power and bat speed just are awesome. His plate discipline just does not translate. I mentioned Cincy because they are a team that needs to make a gamble for offense and they can’t afford Cuetto after this year anyway.
A trade that big won’t happen in the division. Theo and Jed will take the Mets temperature on Baez.
1 year of Cueto for Javy Baez? I think it’s a little soon to give up on the youngest player in the NL who could turn out to be an absolute stud, unless Cueto is ready to sign an extension to go along with the trade.
name me a “stud” who struck out nearly 4 (3.97) times for every time he walked at the minor league level. I’ve done some research on this topic, and Raul Mondesi was about the only one (unless you count Rocco Baldelli as a stud, lol), and his problem was more of a lack of walks than the sheer number of Ks Baez racks up.
Even JP Arencibia, Will Middlebrooks, Adam Jones, Delmon Young, etc. etc. had lower K/BB ratios in the minor leagues.
Javy Baez is a Jim Hendry prospect and it shows.
It’s just hard to see him tapping into all that raw power with such gaudy strikeout rates plus the lack of walks along with the k’s really sap his OBP. I’d love to see him do well but their is just so little historical precedent for it.
Been a fan since 1984. Beyond ready and I think Theo is the perfect guy to lead the Cubs. He has done a great job, even with the poor CBA environment. Let’s get him that extension and begin the charge.
The Cubs were competitive in 2014? They were last in the division so no they were not competitive. If they want to rise above the level of basement dwellers they will most definitely have to find the perfect combination of spending on free agents and trading youth for proven starting pitching.
Learn from the Reds that you cannot win with just a solid group of starting pitchers. Speaking of the Reds they will be shopping Cueto and Latos over the winter and both Chicago teams would be a good place for them to land. Cincinnati will want a kings ransom for Johnny Cueto but the Cubs appear to have the pieces that the Reds are in dire need to see filled. 1) Outfield talent 2) shortstop talent 3) Middle Relief talent
inter-division trades are as taboo as they used to be considering that teams now split up meaningful games playing against opponents in the other league so a deal between the Cubs and Reds is very possible.
Johnny Cueto will most definitely demand 200 million plus after 2015. The question is are the Cubs seriously willing to pay that much for starting pitching? The Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers more than likely are and those teams will also be making moves for Johnny Biesbol
Are the Reds shopping pitching? I’d guess they have a pretty good one year window and would keep them all.
And allow 3 pitchers to hit free agency in the same year and get nothing back but a draft pick? Not even Walt Jocketty is that bad. The Reds are near certain to trade 2 high quality starting pitchers this offseason.
So with a one year window, they would trade away starters? If they were going to punt on next season, they would have sold at the trade deadline.
No value. Besides the Reds thought that they still in contention at that point. The only time they will get anything other than a draft pick for Cueto, Latos, Leake will be if they trade them this off season. There is zero chance that they sign all three especially considering Cueto is going to betting something over 200 million. The Reds farm system is also stocking with well over a dozen solid starting pitching prospects so trading Cueto and Latos now makes perfect sense. Whether it is the Cubs or someone else everyone in Cincinnati knows that Their current starting rotation is gone gone gone.
Don’t they think they’re in it next season? Probably not if they’re running out a rotation with Holmberg and Axelrod.
There was also plenty of value to be had at the deadline for a team willing to take prospects.
You clearly didn’t follow the Cubs this season. They were essentially a .500 team post All Star Break (33-35). This was AFTER they traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Add a TOR pitcher and some veteran players (plus this Kris Bryant kid) and I fully expect this team to compete in 2015.
Also, the Cubs will NOT be trading prospects to the Reds for 1 yr rental pitchers like Cueto or Latos. They would just wait for them to become free agents. That’s silly and you should feel silly for even suggesting that.
Wow. God of information on here. Even if they played .500 ball all year they would not have fielded a competitive team. Would they have qualified for a playoff spot? NO.
How about getting the player on the team and then convincing them to stay? Yeah, pretty sure that many teams out there will be tripping over themselves to get to the Red’s pitchers. I could care less if it is the Cubs or not to be honest, but most certainly Johnny Cueto will be the most in demand player this off season. Whether you believe that or not….. silly that you cannot see the forest through the trees. And you should feel silly for suggesting that the Cubs aren’t right now on the phone trying to trade for starting pitching.
I don’t want any of them. The Reds weren’t even in playoff contention. So much for those solid SP’s. Jay Bruce the Reds saviour and always hurt or depressed Votto. Didn’t you trade Travis Wood for Sean Marshall? Solid
They have been saying that for what seems like 100 years….. ohh wait, it has been 100 years
Where did you come up with this original material? You should be a comedian.
Jordan Zimmermann to the Cubs for one of their middle infielders, perhaps as part of a bigger package…
Conversation would have to start with either Bryant or Russell. multiple years of Shields got the Rays Myers, but Zimm is the superior pitcher.
I’m a Nats fan. J-Zimm only has 1 year left, so I don’t see us getting either of those guys for him straight up. Baez maybe. I can certainly see J-Zimm re-signing with the Cubs since he’s from Wisconsin – I do not see him re-signing with the Nats after next year.
No thanks. The Cubs would wait til 2016 and try to sign him without mortgaging the future by giving up prospect in a trade.
I don’t see that happening. I am a Zimmermann fan but the Cubs have been patiently waiting for the young kids to come up to see who pans out. They don’t waste that on Zimmermann whether its straight up or part as a bigger package.
If you want to compete next year, an ace like J-Zimm can get you there. I’m a Nats fan and am realistic that he probably won’t re-sign here. I’m guessing the Cubs would open up the bank account to sign him and he’s a midwest guy. Getting a young cheap 2B would be really helpful to being able to re-sign the many other guys worthy of extensions.
This could be an interesting year for the cubs. If they manage to find an ace and a number 3 for the rotation while finding consistent bullpen arms, they can compete. They have so many young position players that i am a little skeptical of it though. If they manage to sign Martin and a veteran OF that can perform, I would bet on this team to surprise everyone and make a run at the Wild Card. Even while adding all of those pieces, i just don’t see them overtaking the Cards in the Central yet
It’s not really that far out there. Get a full season from Soler, Bryant, Russell, Alcantara, Baez and you could have a pretty phenomenal lineup if things did go right. Then you also have Rizzo and Castro. Sign some pitching this winter and you got a contender this or next year.
Almora is still another year and a half away.
not talking about thiss year, im just talking about the future
Maybe they don’t all click, maybe they do, but if that lineup reaches it’s potential that is one of best in league, easy.
Who is Plawecki? Where did Starlin Castro go? Baez hasn’t proven that he is a major league player yet, neither has Russell or Bryant.
Are you implying the Cubs traded Castro for a catching prospect on the Mets? If so: Please also include Noah Syndergaard or Zach Wheeler. I don’t see that happening, because the Mets will not trade that haul for Castro, and the Cubs wont trade a 24 year old, two time all star on a team-friendly contract for pitching prospects. There is too much risk there.
EDIT: Three time All-Star
Three time all star. Gheesh have one down season and miss the all star game and everyone forgets you where in 3…
You are correct, sir. Thank you.
You have a point. And yes Plawecki is the number 2 prospect in the Mets organization and he is a catcher which the cubs are short of long term. The Cubs have a few guys in the minors but I haven’t seen or heard that any of them have the same upside as Plawecki. And I know the cubs are loaded with young shortstops which the Mets need. Maybe not my exact deal but you see my point on how I could view these two teams coming togetherin a deal for a shortstop and plawecki
They have Schwarber who has moved rather quickly through a few levels of the minor leagues. As of right now he is the future. If ANY of these guys get traded, it will be for pitching.
I find this comment hilarious in the wake of how (albeit accurately) skeptical everyone was about the Sox going into this season relying on just TWO rookies. I guess when it isn’t Boston we can let a team be optimistic about young players?
Is improbably that they all click, and several probably will fail. They do have the potential though. They certainly aren’t favorites, but I also think it’s a mistake to immediately write them off in ST like we usually do.
Almora, Alcantara, Soler OF
SS addison russell
Trade SS Castro and Wellington Castillo to Mets for C Kevin Plawecki, LHP Steven Matz, IF Ruben Tejada, UTL Daniel Murphy, RHP Eric Gooedel
Mets get the shortstop they need in order to compete for years to come as well as a cheap backup catcher who i feel will thrive as a backup.
The Cubs get their catcher of the future in Plawecki, a young LH bullpen option in Matz, a potential cheap stop-gap if Russell isn’t ready or if he is, then Tejada could serve as depth in the IF. Murphy can serve as a short term and long term super utility player. Gooedel could become a valuable arm in the pen short and long term.
seems like if Cubs and Mets made a move — Cubs would only be wanting back starting pitching…and maybe a catcher.
I think they would be asking for a young high potential catcher and whatever quality they can get back.
The Cubs have: Mark Zagunis, Kyle Scharber, and Victor Caratini as catching prospects in the minor leagues. They are not trading proven MLB talent for even more prospects. Hopefully those days are behind us. The farm system is stacked already. This trade makes no sense.
Alderson has shown no desire to trade his prospects. I would be shocked if the Mets and Cubs made a trade. Further, Matz projects as a starter and the Mets are high on him. Niese or Gee are far more likely to be included in that deal instead.
Exactly, well said.
I am so very glad you are not the Cubs GM. This trade makes almost no sense for the Cubs.
we’ve got all the catchers we need, thanks though mets fans.
Also, cubs season ticket deposits are due in 13 days.
Unassisted Triple Play
I like it. Should be an — $$$ — interesting offseason for the chicago cubs. Time to start adding some frontline pitching if you’re serious about contending in 2015, cough, Lester.
I watched Jon Lester pitch for Oakland last night and the thought occurred to me that the next time I see him he’ll be a Cub
If you want to compete, you need pitching. The Mets need a SS. The trade fit is ideal, just have to get the pieces figured out. I’d take Castro, but wouldn’t give up syndergaard for him. I saw Baez against the Mets for a series and wasn’t overly impressed with him although he was just called up and has room to grow. Addison Russell is the one. Not sure if the cubs have any plans on moving him but I’d be willing to move an arm or two for him. The Mets have the arms to spare.
Harvey and Degrom are probably off limits. Wheeler may not be untouchable, but it would take a big return to get him. But Niese, Gee, Montero, syndergaard, colon, and others are likely available. The Mets could trade one or two of these guys to get a SS. It will be interesting to see if Theo and Sandy Alderson can get a deal done. Just seems like it makes too much sense not to try.
Well I think you have the order correct. Russell is a STUD and barring injury will be a success in the bugs at Shortstop. Castro is a good shortstop on a good contract. BAEZ is a project with killer raw power and serious flaws. Two of the arms you mentioned will not get you Russell or even Castro. BAEZ for Syndergaard might work. I do not think the Cubs will trade Russell for anything short of a haul. Perhaps the best bet for the Mets would be to offer up Syndergaard and Murphy for Castro and Almora. To me that would have some merit.
Theo not only chases after Boston’s players, he uses their GMs phrases, word for word. I think he misses Boston.
I hope we cut Edlose Jackson this offseason. I think I can walk out there and give up 6-8 runs in the first and collect a check.
Back To The Future Baby GO CUBS
Out in Left Field
Two pitchers that come to mind immediately for the Cubs are Jon Lester who is a free agent and Ian Kennedy of the Padres. Lester is going to cost big bucks, somewhere around what Cole Hamels got I think. Kennedy could be had for one of the many shortstop prospects the Cubs have. I dont think they will move Baez, too much power, or Castro.
Lester said he would take a pay cut to be a part of the right club.
This sounds like more rhetoric for Cubs fans.
Every off-season is high, justified hopes.
Then may comes around and it’s crickets.
Cubs need to fill a lot of holes still before they can be competitive.
It’s a good off-season to find multi-year, young guys.
More Jake arrietta and Jason hammell like guys.