Sports

End of an era? Cubs face overhaul, Hoyer says

CHICAGO — After five playoff appearances in six years and a half dozen seasons of playing important September games, the Chicago Cubs could be in for an overhaul, according to team president Jed Hoyer.

“Eleven days ago, we were fully on the buy side of this transaction and everyone was calling about that,” Hoyer told reporters at Wrigley Field on Thursday. “Obviously, people are now calling to see which players are available, so it’s a very different scenario than we expected.

“Life comes at you fast. Eleven games changes a lot of things.”

Hoyer watched his team go from first place in the National League Central to 8 1/2 games out in the span of a couple of weeks thanks to an 11-game losing streak. The skid changed the calculus as the trade deadline approaches at the end of the month. Half the Cubs’ roster will become free agents at the end of the season.

“When you’re in this moment and your playoff odds get into single digits, at this time of the year, you have to keep one eye on the future,” Hoyer said. “You would be irresponsible not to take those phone calls and think through them.

“Milwaukee playing great baseball at the same time was really damaging to our playoff hopes.”

At the top of other teams’ wish lists could be Cubs All-Stars Craig Kimbrel and Kris Bryant, along with veterans Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo. Lefty reliever Andrew Chafin is having a great year as well, and should be coveted. All of them will be free agents at the end of the season.

“Turnover is inevitable,” Hoyer said. “We’ve been as stable as anyone, but at some point there is going to be some turnover on the roster, in part, because we’re not seeing the results that we need to.”

The Cubs have played meaningful baseball games since 2015 but began to underachieve after winning the World Series in 2016. They faded at the end of the 2018, losing the division and then the wild-card game on consecutive days at Wrigley Field.

After falling out of postseason contention late in the 2019 season, the Cubs rebounded to win the division in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, but they were bounced from the postseason by the Miami Marlins in two games.

The Cubs’ offense has been inconsistent for years, and this season the starting pitching staff has been an issue — especially after Hoyer traded Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish last winter.

“This group has had incredibly high highs together,” Hoyer said. “Our troughs have been lower than one would expect, sometimes for different reasons. When we’ve struggled, we’ve struggled more than we should have given our talent level. That’s been a source of frustration and confusion at times.”

The Cubs’ struggles at the plate led former team executive Theo Epstein to declare the offense broken back in 2018. Not a lot has changed since that declaration, leading to Hoyer’s coming overhaul. The core players of the Cubs’ 2016 championship roster could be in their final days and weeks on the team.

“I’ll be on the phone a lot in the next three weeks,” Hoyer said.

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