Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer spoke last night at the close of the Winter Meetings, and while he wasn’t going to give up any trade secrets (*ba dum tsss*), he did get into a lot of what went down this week. You can see his comments here, here, here, here, and here, among other places.
Among his comments …
- Speaking generally about what has been accomplished and what is yet to come: “We still have a lot more work to do. The offseason is far from over. But for me, it’s always really important to sign guys that you target. Sometimes in free agency, you miss on your targets, and you have to kind of move down the list. Those are two guys that we targeted from the beginning. Obviously, Cody, once he was non-tendered [by the Dodgers], it felt like a great fit for us both in handedness and positionally. And obviously Jameson, we targeted. So it’s nice to land guys that you were really focused on.”
- The timing of the moves does indicate Hoyer is not blowing smoke about Bellinger and Taillon being early targets for the Cubs, and it is indeed good to hit on those guys, though we know they did miss on one in Jose Abreu.
- But, yes, as Hoyer says: a lot more to do. Nobody is denying that.
- On Taillon, Hoyer says the Cubs have had their eye on him for a long time. They see him as having gotten better and better as he’s gotten distance from his latest Tommy John surgery and rehab during the 2020 pandemic year. Even at 31, Hoyer says of Taillon: “I think there’s still more in the tank. We’re excited to get him. He’s a guy we targeted at the beginning of the offseason and we had a good connection with him and our pitching guys and felt like that relationship was really strong. Glad he felt the same.”
- Oh, and you see lots and lots of praise for Taillon’s makeup out there, and Hoyer agreed: “As we did the makeup work on him, it was 100% A+. That does mean a lot. I think it’s really important the guys you bring into your clubhouse. When there’s unanimity about a guy’s impact, that’s really wonderful.”
- I didn’t see a lot from Hoyer on the Bellinger deal, which is likely just because I missed it, not because he avoided talking about it. He did, of course, talk about the importance of defense up the middle, and I’m sure that’s a significant allure for the Cubs.
- The Cubs already seem to be thinking about how many multi-inning guys they can have in the bullpen, given their starting pitching depth (and also, I would argue, guys like Adbert Alzolay who just fit that mold so well): “As we add starters, we’re pushing someone really good that could potentially be a multi-inning weapon. It’s really hard when you have a bullpen of four or five one-inning guys. It’s hard not to overuse those guys. It’s hard not to get banged up during the course of the summer.” In other words, I think it’s clear that the Cubs would love for a guy like Keegan Thompson to open the season as a member of the bullpen. Maybe even Adrian Sampson, too, if he weren’t optioned to Iowa to keep starting.
- About Willson Contreras signing with the Cardinals, Hoyer noted that with only 29 other teams, sometimes this is going to happen with a rival. It takes nothing away from what he accomplished with the Cubs. Of course he had nothing but compliments and well wishes: “He was a Cub for a long time. We won a World Series with him. I admire just his toughness and resilience behind the plate. He played hurt a lot. He always came to the ballpark wanting to play. Obviously, he signed with the Cardinals, but I wish him happiness. He gave us a lot of happiness and I wish him the same.”