Following Wednesday night’s Cubs win on the Jason Heyward walk-off home run against the Reds, Heyward said after the game that it’s nice to have incentive to play at this point in the Cubs’ season.
As Heyward mentions, this is the first time in his career where he is exclusively playing spoiler rather than competing for a playoff berth. Even in this situation, there is still incentive to win and perform, and that incentive is to ruin team’s playoff chances like the Cubs did to the Reds this week. The Cubs have gotten off to a blazing start in the month of September, going 8-2 starting since August 31. The team is fun to watch for the first time since the trade deadline.
The Value of Playing Spoiler
Not only is playing spoiler fun and a big motivator to continue to go out and compete, but it can benefit the Cubs past the 2021 season. If you have been paying attention to the Cubs prospects, you would know that there is reason to be optimistic about the future. However, as we learned in 2015 and 2016, the team needs to be supplemented by free agent signings. The way the Cubs play for the rest of the season can provide a reason for top free agents to consider the Cubs. That is why playing the spoiler for the rest of the season is so important, it has ramifications for the future of the organization.
The 2016 Cubs were very homegrown in terms of position players, but that team wouldn’t have been what it was without the free agent signings of Jon Lester and John Lackey, and the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman who was acquired via trade. Free agents need to have a reason to consider the Cubs and I believe that the way the Cubs have been playing will be attractive for free agents in the next two off-seasons. We haven’t even mentioned the amount of cash the Cubs have to spend, and from there it will be up to the Cubs ownership on how the team dishes out that money.
The last three weeks of Cubs baseball has given me plenty of reason to believe in the coaching staff and organization going forward. Just like this year, the Cubs will not have much turnover on their coaching staff and I think that will be really important not only for the young Cubs, but for the entire team. This team is sending a message throughout the league that the Cubs are coming. I don’t know when they’ll be back on top, but they will be threatening sooner than the league expects.
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