Chicago Cubs: Winning is an afterthought for 2021 season

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs players and coaches are looking to shock all the skeptics out there who believe that this is an aging, underachieving team that’s better served being torn down at the trade deadline.

Unfortunately, the players and coaching staff are not making all the big organizational decisions. Those come from their General Manager, Jed Hoyer, and through their ownership, the Ricketts. Their actions throughout the offseason suggest that the organization is all-in on rebuilding their farm-system as opposed to contending immediately for another World Series championship.

Trading away Yu Darvish who is coming off a terrific season for minor league prospects in return is not something a team looking to “win now” would do. Neither is letting Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester depart when both could have easily been kept.

Ownership tried saving face from well-deserved fan criticism by increasing their payroll to sign former all-stars Jake Arrieta and Joc Pederson on low-cost deals. Both players certainly have a chip on their shoulders as they want to get back to playing at a high level as do the rest of the players on the roster.

In all likelihood, ownership is hoping all of their aging veterans, including Kris Bryant, rebound to have strong seasons so that they can ultimately be used as valuable trade chips. If that weren’t the case, the Cubs wouldn’t have been heavily involved in so many trade rumors circling around Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras this offseason.

Everyone who follows the Cubs knows that this is a team likely on its last gasp of air as far as being able to contend for a playoff spot, let alone a World Series. The division on paper is weak outside of the Saint Louis Cardinals so there is the possibility that the Cubs could find themselves in playoff contention by the mid-way point of the season.

Given the expiring contracts and a cast of aging veterans past their prime, even if the Cubs are in first place in a weak division by mid-July, ownership might still pull the plug on the season in order to rebuild for the future. This makes plenty of sense given that ownership has been hesitant to give long-term deals to free agents and players on their roster after witnessing numerous deals in the past backfire on them.

The Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel contracts immediately come to mind. We also know that mid-season trades since winning the 2016 World Series haven’t paid great dividends, only further depleting a weakened farm-system.

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Expect everyone in the Cubs’ organization to continue saying all the right things to the press. No one is going to openly acknowledge that the Cubs aren’t serious about competing for a playoff spot or championship. In this case, actions speak louder than words.