Jed Hoyer is no Theo Epstein.
Recent events have made that abundantly clear. Go ahead and blame Tom Ricketts all you want. Argue that he forced Hoyer into tearing down the house brick by brick, dismantling the core responsible for the best stretch of Cubs baseball in franchise history.
You know what, you’re probably right.
But it still doesn’t excuse the monumental lapse of judgment Hoyer displayed when he publicly threw his former players under the bus after trading away 33% of his starting lineup at the deadline. These individuals were part of the “Curse Busters” and they deserved much better than a swift kick in the pants on their way out.
For those who are unaware, on August 2, Hoyer was a guest on Kap and J. Hood, an ESPN 1000 radio show. When asked about his failure to extend the team’s young stars, he pointed the finger directly at Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Báez, essentially describing them and their representation as two-faced (see quote below).
That’s a bad look, Jed.
What happens at the negotiating table should never leave the room. Not only does Hoyer’s breach of trust eliminate any possibility of these players coming back to the Cubs in the offseason (or ever), other free agents to-be undoubtedly took notice and will now think twice before joining what seems to be a toxic, unsupportive environment.
The next day, Rizzo appeared on the same show and pushed back, comparing the Cubs’ fire sale to a bad breakup while implying the organization wanted their “Big 3” (his words) to take hometown discounts. Despite Rizzo’s best efforts to sound unaffected by the situation, you could tell Hoyer’s comments struck a nerve.
“I think it can speak for itself that there is a common denominator that no one signed,” he said. “Whoever wants to dig into that can. I just think that we had such great memories there, (for Hoyer) to come out and say that, it doesn’t really make sense. But it is what it is.”
In support of Rizzo’s response, before the 2021 season, he was looking for something in line with Paul Goldschmidt’s five-year, $130 million deal. Instead, the Cubs hoped Rizzo would settle for $60 million less, a laughable offer which he understandably turned down.
Yes, at the end of the day, baseball is big business where sentimentality takes a backseat to the bottom line. But every now and then, exceptions are made for certain iconic players who represent an organization’s heart and soul (Yadier Molina, for example).
Rizzo is one of those players. Jon Lester was another.
Yet, both were undervalued and underappreciated toward the end of their respective tenures with the Cubs. There’s certainly a valid argument that Rizzo didn’t deserve top dollar after a career-worst season in 2020, followed by a subpar campaign in 2021. But $60 million less?
That’s a slap to (arguably) the face of your franchise.
Predictably, after understanding the potential ramifications, Hoyer attempted to backtrack by saying his frustration stemmed from wanting to keep the Cubs’ core intact and what he said “came from the right place” when he childishly aired out his team’s dirty laundry.
“If I could do it over again, would I have probably ended the sentence earlier? I think I would have,” Hoyer said. “Ultimately, that frustration came from that place of having wanted to get deals done. But listen, there’s no soap opera here. I think it came from the right place, but I wish I hadn’t said that.”
That sounds more like someone who’s sorry they were caught and what that could mean for their job security rather than someone showing actual contrition. If you believe Hoyer’s explanation was genuine, there’s a lovely beach house for sale in Nebraska with your name on it.
Hoyer better hope all those teenagers he acquired pan out by 2027 (if he’s still employed by Ricketts) because if restocking the minor leagues wasn’t a tall enough task, now he can add repairing the Cubs’ reputation to the list.