It’s not something I think about *often,* but it does cross my mind from time to time, especially after the first half the Cubs saw in 2017: if things are going really sideways out of the gate, and competing in the NL Central looks pretty unlikely down the stretch, are the Cubs prepared to do some kind of mini sell-off even in the middle of a competitive window?
I already know the answer before I hear it in any kind of formal way from the front office, but it underscores the urgency of the moment to hear Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein confirm it, as he did on McNeil & Parkins today:
#Cubs' Theo Epstein on fans' expectations:
"If we take care of business and put ourselves in position to be a legitimate World Series contender, we can put ourselves in position to add. … If we don't play well … there will be open-mindedness to signifcant transactions."
— McNeil & Parkins (@McNeil_Parkins) March 6, 2019
In other words, yes, if the Cubs are stinking the place up in the first half, and if they do not reasonably project to be competitive in a tough NL Central in the second half, they will consider moving out pieces to reshape the roster for (I would presume) the relatively short-term. Note: just because they’re selling in mid-2019 doesn’t mean they’re punting on 2020 – remember when the Yankees did a small sell-off in 2016? (Of course you do.)
Be advised: Epstein strongly, strongly, strongly said he does not expect this to happen, and no one wants it to happen. But there is a responsibility there to be honest with what the Cubs have and what they don’t have. If things look ugly come June and July, then serious transactions will have to be contemplated.
I don’t really want to get into the pieces the Cubs could have to sell in July, because gross, it’s March in a competitive window. But, suffice to say, yes, the Cubs would have a ton of theoretically movable pieces at that point if things went bad. Well, unless things went SO bad that none of the pieces are worth much at that point … but boy, that’d be some seriously armageddon stuff that I’m not gonna try to wrap my head around right now.
Don’t stink out of the gate, Cubs. You will not like what happens if you’re 10 games out by the start of July. None of us will.