Reports began surfacing on Friday indicating the Chicago Cubs are, in fact, going to be sellers at the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline. After an egregious 11-game losing streak, the Cubs have picked a lane. As a fan, and even a writer covering the team, it really stings.
Sell. What an awful word for Cubs fans. As the news breaks, and the deadline approaches every waking day, the harsh reality of baseball is starting to set in. The Cubs roster will look vastly different in the near future than it does now. Kris Bryant will likely wear a new uniform, as will Craig Kimbrel. Hell, if the price is right, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez could join them.
PJ Mooney of The Athletic suggested some realities regarding this deadline. Unfortunately, he's spot on. In a post-pandemic world, the Cubs are depleted on intellectual resources. Translation: they don't have as much information about other teams, their prospects, and player value due to cuts in the front office. Now, Jed Hoyer is going in relatively blind to a trade deadline with masses implications on the franchise's future.
Let's start with the facts. For starters, Craig Kimbrel is expected to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, names on the trade market in a few weeks. He's an All-Star closer with elite stuff and a contract that can stretch beyond the 2021 season. Kris Bryant is a top player in baseball with a great bat and incredible defensive versatility. He is a player that should be a Cub for life, but in all reality, his time on the North Side is likely over soon.
The Cubs have a lot of issues. They have a starting rotation lacking game-changing arms and a lineup that struggles to hit on a consistent basis. In addition, they have high quality prospects who are all behind schedule due to injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, reinforcements that were once thought to be only a year or so away look more like 2023 names now.
Jed Hoyer needs to do something, there is no secret about that. The Cubs need MLB-ready pitching, some more high-contact bats, and better organizational depth. In order to tackle those objectives, the Cubs need to hit pay dirt with their trade deadline moves. Getting MLB-ready or soon-to-be MLB-ready prospects is key for this team's immediate future. Otherwise, the Cubs will need to channel the Chicago Tribune-owned version and buy talent on the market if they struggle to develop talent for the the next era.
This is where writing for On Tap Sports Net is fun. The fan reaction is what will make this deadline one of the most memorable for Cubs fans, and unfortunately not in a good way. Many Cubs fans, myself included, believe Kris Bryant should be a Cub for life. Unfortunately, as the deadline approaches, it feels like his time in blue pinstripes is coming to an end.
This is a time where fans will vent a lot of frustrations. Frustrations with the team for going from buyers to sellers in under two weeks. Disappointment with the front office for not doing more to improve this team in the offseason. Anger with the ownership for crying wolf and spending money too late. Whether this is all justified or not, the fans will be pained with the events that transpire in the next few weeks.
As a fan myself, I am prepared to be hurt by the deadline. I don't want to see Kris Bryant anywhere but Chicago. I would be heartbroken if Rizzo is dealt. Even a player like Baez, who I adore as a fan, would still be painful to see go even if a return is strong. Even Kimbrel, a player with less sentimental value to most fans who are still attached to the 2016 team, will still be a painful player to see leave. As of June 24, the Cubs were looking to be buyers and make a run at it in 2021. Now, this team is ready to put a cap on the golden era of Chicago Cubs baseball as we know it.
Sure, fans will read this and say "who's to say the golden era is over?" That is certainly a fair question. However, the core that won the elusive World Series in 2016 is the golden era team. If those players are gone, even if the Cubs continue to be competitive in 2022 and beyond, then its only the start of a new era, not a continuation of the old.
The Impending Deadline
It sucks, it's painful, and no one wants it to happen. However, the Cubs will be a different team in the next few weeks. As we sit and wait for the inevitable disappointment, there will be plenty to vent about as Cubs fans. Be ready, the next few weeks will be... tough, to say the least.