Cubs: Theo Epstein’s comments suggest major change ahead

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs will be heading into an important year in 2020 but Theo Epstein’s comments regarding change might have some fans worried.

It was evident down the stretch in 2018 that this core of Chicago Cubs players was not going to stick together forever. And while this group has a certain nostalgia attached to it for ending the longest drought in American sports by winning the 2016 World Series, change is badly needed in order for the team to have a chance at returning to the Fall Classic. Last year, Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, was hopeful for a bounce-back season from his players in what was largely a quiet offseason for the north siders.

Their only notable acquisition was the signing of utility man, Daniel Descalso. Well, as it turned out, neither the Cubs core or Descalso was able to recreate what made them so special in previous years. Now heading into an offseason with what seems like more questions than answers, Cub fans should brace themselves for a core player to be on the move. The news surrounding the Cubs these days is primarily focused on the staff that David Ross is surrounding himself with in order to be a successful manager.

But eventually, his staff will be in place and all eyes will be on the Cubs’ front office to fix their broken offense. Tied with the 47-win Detroit Tigers, the Cubs had the worst contact rate in baseball last season at just 73.8 percent. To add insult to injury, they also had the worst strike zone contact rate at a miserable 40.1 percent. It’s amazing that the team still managed to achieve 84 wins and these numbers should be eye-opening for Theo Epstein, who recently spoke with The Athletic regarding players that might be “untouchable”.

“Look, we’re open to change,” Epstein said. “We’re open-minded about this roster. I expect to have a lot of trade discussions this winter. I think a lot of the players on this year’s team are going to be a part of the next championship team, so we need to be mindful of that. But it’s also really hard to accomplish improvement and change in certain areas unless you’re extremely open-minded.”

Open-minded, meaning a potential trade that involves names like Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez, amongst others. Epstein has already stated that he is going to chat with some of the younger core players on potential contract extensions this offseason. Bryant, 27, is awaiting the results from his grievance hearing against the Cubs that could see him become a free agent after the 2020 season if he wins.

When the Cubs first entered their window of contention, everyone was well aware that most of their key players were going to become free agents after the 2021 season, which makes next year so important. Don’t expect the Cubs to be in on a free-agent class that includes guys like Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, or Stephen Strasburg, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be active. Again, it’s more likely that a blockbuster trade, whether good or bad, is going to happen before a big-name free agent is signed.

dark. Next. Is Albert Almora the odd man out in 2020?

Next year is so important for the Cubs, for Theo Epstein, and for David Ross; all who are looking to recreate some of that 2016 magic even if their official title looks a little different than it did back then. Who are your “untouchable” players in a trade?