Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer had hoped his annual end-of-season information convention would have come later in October than the earlier two years.
Instead, Hoyer spent almost an hour Tuesday morning reflecting on the Cubs ending one sport out of a playoff spot and the way the group strikes ahead.
“Externally, we were not expected to be a playoff team, but the internal expectations were that we’re going to make the playoffs and going back to spring training that was the clear goal,” Hoyer stated. “When we have been 10 video games below .500 in the course of June, these guys nonetheless believed and it was a fairly superb factor from my seat to take heed to them speak about how good they thought the crew was.
“Right now we’re stuck thinking about what could have been and thinking about the painful last 2 1/2, 3 weeks. You can’t call something that falls short of your goal a success, so ultimately we have to live with that.”
Hoyer expressed his assist of supervisor David Ross, who will probably be getting into his fifth season on the helm, with 2024 representing a make-or-break yr.
1. Not one particular space accountable for the September collapse.
Plenty of hours will proceed to be spent making an attempt to diagnose the foundation causes of the Cubs’ September failures and their terrible stretch to shut out the ultimate three weeks. Hoyer stated it’s been onerous to outline what precisely went unsuitable, however broke it down into 5 totally different areas: fatigue, regression, a banged-up bullpen, struggles in clutch conditions and significant defensive miscues.
“It’s going to be hard to figure out exactly what proportions of those things led to our demise,” Hoyer stated. “All of those things contributed in some way or another and we have to put it under a microscope and think about, can we tease out exactly what went wrong?”
Hoyer thought how the Cubs performed on the finish of the season mirrored, to their detriment, how they carried out throughout their struggles in May and early June.
“Whenever you have a terrible stretch like that at the end — we were (2-10) in two-run games after that Giants series — whenever you have that, there’s so many different factors you can point to,” Hoyer stated. “I feel like most of my waking moments are thinking about those moments and what we could have done differently.”
2. The Cody Bellinger query.
Will Cody Bellinger be again with the Cubs in 2024?
It’s arguably crucial resolution surrounding the Cubs’ offseason and the way they method constructing subsequent yr’s roster. On Bellinger’s finish, he made certain to understand the ultimate weeks of September figuring out it could be the tip of his time enjoying for a corporation he cherished being part of this season.
“We sat down with him on Sunday and had a long conversation — we’ve had really good dialogue throughout the whole year,” Hoyer stated. “He loves Wrigley Field and he loves the fans and his experience was fantastic and obviously our experience was fantastic and we’d love to bring him back.”
There are a number of implications to what the Cubs’ lineup appears to be like like in 2024 if Bellinger isn’t re-signed. Among them: the Cubs already wanted to amass one other energy hitter to the lineup, making the potential lack of a lefty slugger in Bellinger doubly robust. They want extra quick-strike choices in relation to residence run harm. Replacing Bellinger’s manufacturing and bringing in one other prime offensive risk presents a problem. Their minor-league depth may additionally current a commerce path to discovering the bats the Cubs want. As a Scott Boras consumer, Bellinger doubtless received’t signal till late within the offseason, one other wrinkle to roster constructing.
“We’ll have a lot of conversations with him,” Hoyer stated. “Obviously it’s a process and that process does not start now. It’s going to play out for a while. … The contributions he made will have to be replaced. Like I said, we’d love to bring him back, but in a world where that’s somewhat uncertain, we do have to figure out a way to replace that offensively.”
3. It will take time for the Cubs to get on the extent of top-caliber groups like Atlanta.
During the Cubs’ collection final week in Atlanta, Hoyer appeared over from his seat within the guests dugout to the Braves dugout and remarked how a lot he enjoys these varieties of collection.
The Cubs confronted a historic offensive juggernaut that completed with an MLB-best 104 wins, which serves as a measuring stick of the excessive normal the group desires to achieve. Hoyer believes the Cubs’ roster wants time to achieve that time. And step one is returning to the playoffs in 2024.
“Can we create that in one offseason? No, that’s really difficult,” Hoyer stated of reaching the Braves’ stage. “The secret’s to construct a crew that we like that provides us an excellent probability to make the postseason. When you get within the postseason, something can occur, which is a part of why it’s going to be actually painful to observe video games this afternoon, figuring out that we had an opportunity and we didn’t end the race. That needs to be the aim.
“It takes steps to get to the place where those teams are at. It’s not going to be one offseason to make that leap. When people look at our roster, they’re going to know it’s a playoff-caliber roster and hopefully we can add to that roster, but to make that leap up to Atlanta territory, that’s going to take a little bit of time.”
4. Cubs are in search of the ‘right time’ to go over the posh tax threshold.
The Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) can also be a looming think about offseason choices and acquisitions.
The Cubs aren’t strangers to going over the CBT threshold, surpassing it in 2019 and 2020, then making strikes main into the 2021 season to get below the annual determine to reset and keep away from the penalties that happen after a 3rd consecutive yr past the restrict. Hoyer didn’t need to get into the specifics of the Cubs’ payroll state of affairs for 2024 — noting the determine nonetheless must be mentioned within the coming weeks — however pointed to possession and the entrance workplace’s willingness to go over it previously.
Currently, the Cubs are roughly $78 million below the 2024 CBT threshold ($237 million), in keeping with Cot’s Contracts.
“As the previous core got more expensive and as we needed to supplement the roster we did go over, so philosophically we’ve shown a willingness to do that,” Hoyer stated. “It’s both a budgetary question but also we want to make sure that strategically you do it at the right time. So we’ll have those discussions, but there’s no organizational mandate against it.”