This is one of those things where I don’t expect you will be surprised by anything Cubs President Jed Hoyer said about the Trade Deadline, but I think in full fairness his comments need to live somewhere.
I appreciate Jordan Bastian transcribing here on Twitter the full set of Hoyer’s comments on how it came to this, why all three of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javy Báez were traded, and how to him it was just a matter of proceeding rationally:
Implicit in Hoyer’s logical and rational approach is the idea that free agency was coming for these three players no matter what, and that the Cubs were not going to be advantaged in free agency by keeping the guys for the next two months. If both of those things are true, then yes, of course trade them, because you’re literally talking about two months in a lost season.
… but you know the response, right? It would be something about using those two months with at least one of them to try to work out an extension. Maybe Hoyer already knew that was impossible, despite other public statements? I tend to think it’s more likely that Hoyer already knows that the organization sees re-signings as unlikely for their own reasons. Maybe their internal valuations on these guys for the years ahead don’t at all match what the expected market values will be. Consider the five-year, $70 million offer the Cubs made to Anthony Rizzo before the season, which at the time looked way under market. Now, I think it’s at least an open question whether Rizzo gets a deal at that level after the season. (Not being tied to a qualifying offer will help.)
On the topic of extensions, Hoyer again said what you’d expect:
Cubs president Jed Hoyer on the club’s inability to extend The Core: “We made offers to everyone that I believe will stand up exceptionally well. We weren’t able to reach deals. Does that frustrate me? It does. But I have to be honest: I know we put our best foot forward.”
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) July 30, 2021
Until and unless those offers leak out as the Rizzo one did, we’ll never really know if the Cubs made reasonable offers to try to keep any or all of the three around. Obviously there were rumors of a $200 million offer to Kris Bryant a few years ago, and we know that talks with Báez got pretty serious last year before the pandemic shut things down.
I’m still sorting through my thoughts and feelings on this stuff, to be honest. Acknowledging my sadness on the one side, and acknowledging that some significant changes were necessary at some point on the other side. These trades don’t have to mean that the Cubs’ performance will be worse over the next five years than it would’ve been if one or two had been retained. And it certainly doesn’t mean I won’t pull for the many new players and prospects to break out. But I think I’m still allowed to be sad about what happened this week.
You can also see Hoyer’s interview on Cubs Postgame Live after last night’s game, by the way, where you do perceive the emotion involved in making these decisions.