Business is about to pick up with regards to the Chicago Cubs’ offseason plans, and David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 in Chicago recently caught up with Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer to discuss things.
You can hear Kaplan’s interview with Hoyer here in its entirety.
There, you will find Hoyer’s thoughts on several topics including his favorite part of winning with a young core, his take on the free agency and trade markets, the continuing improvement of Kris Bryant, not ruling out Dexter Fowler’s return, and more.
Some of the highlights, together with my thoughts, below.
- Because of the lack of depth in free agency, Hoyer expects an active trade market this offseason. He re-affirmed this class of free agents played a role in last offseason’s spending strategy, adding “If you’re a team with a lot of holes that you really need to fill, I think this is a really tough offseason to go about it.” Good thing the Cubs did what they did last offseason (and, you know, won the World Series), because Hoyer doesn’t seem too thrilled about this particular free agent crop.
- Perhaps the Cubs won’t dig into the free agent market, but Hoyer seems to be open to pre-arbitration extensions. “There’s a lot of guys we’d love to keep beyond when we have them. If we can extend that window even more we’ll definitely look to do it with a bunch of guys …. I think we’ll have those conversations …. with Kris (Bryant) among them.” Hoyer admitted it was complicated, especially with players trying to balance securing their future and the riches that potentially await them in free agency.
- What else is on the table this offseason? Hoyer addressed the complications in being behind after the quick turnaround from the end of the World Series win to the start of the offseason. “You try to have offseason meetings, but it never has the same kind of urgency or effect when you’re in the World Series. It’s human nature.” He added that the team has “targeted moves” it has to make, but says the team is fortunate to not have to undergo an offseason overhaul. And don’t expect stories about Hoyer and Theo Epstein spending Thanksgiving dinner with a potential future Cub. “I don’t think we’ll ever experience something like that ever again,” referencing their Thanksgiving visit with Curt Schilling in 2003.
- Hoyer added one of his favorite things about this season was winning with young guys who project to get better and more comfortable as time goes on. By showing they can win, Hoyer said concern about curses is out the window and getting past the idea that the Cubs can’t win was an important factor for these players. He expects them to build on it with each postseason appearance that lies ahead.
- Even though he isn’t surprised Dexter Fowler didn’t accept the $17.2 million dollar qualifying offer, Hoyer said he will continue to talk to Fowler and his agent Casey Close about returning to Chicago. Hoyer said he would not close the door on Fowler’s return and added he would like to have him back, but noting Fowler has a decision to make for himself. Hoyer also credited Fowler for helping transform the Cubs into the team they are today: “A lot of our vibe over the last two years was, in part, created by what Dexter did for us.” (Brett got much more into Fowler’s future with or without the Cubs earlier today.)
- How can Kris Bryant improve after taking home the National League MVP? Whatever area it is, Hoyer expects Bryant to find it. “I know he’s going to get his MVP award. He’s going to get married this winter. But I know he’s going to be in that cage in his house working on things to get better. … I really believe that he doesn’t think he’s had his best year. … I think he’s going to get better this winter somehow and we’ll probably see a better Kris Bryant in 2017.” (That must be a scary thought for opposing pitchers.)