Whenever the Cubs parlayed baseball’s best set of standing prospects in decades to some World Series title in 2016, ending a 108-year drought, even more championships appeared inescapable. But though their present six-year series of winning seasons is their longest since 1967-72, they have prevailed in only 1 playoff series because 2016 and their final postseason success arrived in 2017.
Following president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer took over in October 2011, Chicago excelled at growing hitters but could not create pitchers. Duane Underwood leads all in house arms at the Epstein/Hoyer program using a mere 36 1/3 innings, and that he had been designated for assignment and also traded to the Pirates earlier this month. Homegrown pitchers totaled only 45 innings in 60 games last season.
To compensate, the Cubs doled out nine-figure contracts to signal Jon Lester and Yu Darvish and exchanged elite prospects like Gleyber Torres, Jorge Soler, Eloy Jiménez, Dylan Cease to obtain Aroldis Chapman, Wade Davis and José Quintana. Since the club once-young center got increasingly more costly each year, something had to offer.
With possession hoping to toe the luxury-tax lineup, Lester and Quintana left as free agents and Darvish was traded to the Padres for Zach Davies and four toolsy but exceptionally youthful prospects not near the big leagues at December. Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are eligible for free agency following the 2021 year, also Willson Contreras might be receiving too pricey for Chicago’s preference.
The Cubs still needs to contend this season, but their potential beyond that’s uncertain. After remaking the player development and scouting departments the previous offseason, Epstein resigned with a year left on his contract in November and Hoyer has been promoted to president of baseball ops. The potency of this farm program is up-the-middle place players like center fielder Brennen Davis, catcher Miguel Amaya and shortstops Cristian Hernandez and Ed Howard, even though there’s expectation that lefty Brailyn Marquez and righty Adbert Alzolay can lead in the big leagues at 2021.