After finishing fourth in their division with a losing record, Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts tried to motivate fans with roster improvement assurances.
When a season goes up in flames, it’s on the management to rally up the fanbase for next year.
For the Cubs, it looks like management is already making ambitious promises to finally be more aggressive in free agency.
This week, the Cubs announced the hiring of general manager Carter Hawkins. Hawkins, who was formerly the assistant general manager in Cleveland, helped manage one of the best pitcher programs in all of baseball. Hawkins is appealing as he developed players through the farm system without much money to throw around in free agency.
But that isn’t the case for the Cubs.
The new hire, along with an Oct. 15 letter Cubs owner Tom Ricketts sent out to fans, gives the impression that the Cubs might do something different to compensate for their 71-91 finish. Here’s an excerpt from Ricketts’ letter:
“While we failed to extend our six-straight winning seasons streak and secure our spot in the postseason, we made important changes that put us in a position to succeed as we build the next great Cubs team. Beginning to replenish our much-improved farm system was just the start. Jed and the team are now focused on reloading our roster. We have the resources necessary to compete in 2022 and beyond, and we will use them. We will be active in free agency and continue to make thoughtful decisions to bolster our team this offseason.”
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts issued a personal letter to fans
When Ricketts said the team will be “active in free agency”, it’s a vague assurance from a team that has done little to make big free agency moves in recent years.
Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation wrote that the Cubs need to set their sights on players they can now afford. “At a minimum, there should be no limitations in aggressively targeting short-term, high-upside, high-AAV free agents. The Cubs have missed on that group – mostly sitting it out – for far too long,” Taylor said.
With a mid-season trade for Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer, the Cubs have made it clear they’re focused on conservatively amassing young talent and working to develop them rather than chasing power players on the market.
FanSided’s Mark Powell argues that big free agency spending is only a short-term fix, which likely isn’t what Hawkins was brought in to accomplish. “Refining player development and scouting in Cleveland’s vision gives the Cubs a better chance at ensuring their next competitive window doesn’t fade as quickly as the 2016 World Series corps’ did,” Powell said.
Instead, it’s more likely that the team will make changes in scouting and player development.