A handful of good bits from the Cubs President of Baseball Operations to get in front of your eyeballs before tonight’s game after a whirlwind 24 hours …
- As for the Willson Contreras injury, Theo Epstein doesn’t see it as a serious issue, although the MRI did reveal a strain in the arch of his foot. Instead, the IL stint is partly to save Contreras from himself (NBCS Chicago): “Our medical staff feels like if he were to try to play on it, that he’d be risking exacerbating the injury and turning it into something long-term. So we have to get ahead of it, take it out of Willy’s hands and take him off his feet. We don’t expect it to be longer than 10 days – that’s what we hope for, anyways.”
- Epstein wasn’t going to tip the club’s hand on how it envisions using the trio of catchers when the time comes for Contreras to return (i.e., he’s not going to tell the world that Victor Caratini is available, for example), but he did further support the idea that the Cubs really just wanted Maldonado regardless of the front two catchers, particularly because the July 31 Trade Deadline is a hard deadline (note that this is from before the trade was announced, but surely when he knew it was done, via NBCSC): “Teams need to keep depth in mind a little bit more, that you have to anticipate where you might be vulnerable to an injury and try to build that depth up in advance – preemptively, really – knowing that there’s no escape valve in August. So you gotta really do all your work this month as much as possible and really take a hard look at your organizational depth.”
- As for the rest of the trade market, it’s very active, but very pricey (670 The Score): “There are a lot of conversations right now. Prices are normally high at this point in the market. They get a little bit more realistic later. Every team seems to be involved in one way or another at this point.”
- But, as we’ve known for a while, the Cubs’ aggressiveness on bigger moves will be tied to how realistically they think they can win the division and use a trade to assist in that process (670 The Score): “We are always trying to win. If we continue to play well and the more you play well, the more you can focus on certain specific needs. We are always going to look to upgrade as long as it’s realistic. Where we are in the division matters, and we would love to get some separation as well.”
- Moreover, the Cubs have twin priorities in mind this trade season, and I very much agree with Epstein (The Athletic): “I think we have multiple priorities this year. We want to win now, but we also want to rebuild the system, so it would take a special deal to sacrifice the very top of the farm system. We feel really good about those guys. But I also think we have burgeoning depth in a lot of areas and some interesting upper-level guys and really high-ceiling lower-level guys, so I feel like it’s overall been a pretty good year for the system if you sort of look in the right places.”
- Meanwhile, Epstein reiterated the team’s stance on Ben Zobrist’s return, and it sounds like plans will eventually be put in place (Cubs.com): “I look forward to speaking to him soon. We’ve just been texting. Hopefully, we can get some sort of plan in place. We’re still hopeful that he returns.”
- Epstein added that a Terrance Gore type is going to be on the docket for the Cubs (note that the former Cub was recently DFA’d by the Royals).