Adding ex-Cards not intentional, but not lost on Cubs

January 16th, 2016

CHICAGO -- The Cubs weren't trying to weaken the Cardinals by signing two players who were with St. Louis last season. Free agents Jason Heyward and John Lackey were simply the best fit for the Cubs team.

That topic came up during a question-and-answer session with four members of the front office Saturday at the Cubs Convention.

"It's important to have a plan and be aggressive towards your plan and not be overly concerned with your rival," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "When we were in Boston, the Yankees had the most money and you knew they'd put a great team on the field every year. You just had to worry about your team and your 40-man roster and not get overly concerned about [the Yankees].

"I think we take the exact same attitude with the Cardinals. They're going to be good every year, their tradition is amazing as far as winning year after year. So, assume that's a given and build your roster the right way."

Heyward and Lackey turned down more lucrative offers to sign with the Cubs.

"This offseason, it happened two of the players we targeted were Cardinals," Hoyer said. "Certainly, it was a nice added benefit, but we wouldn't have gone after those players if we didn't really like those guys. That happened as part of our plan. I do think it's important to focus on your guys and not get overly caught up and react to what another team does."

The fan persisted.

"When you made your sales pitch to Heyward and Lackey, did you say, 'What can St. Louis give you for doing a good job versus coming to the Cubs and having them get to the World Series and winning it for the city of Chicago?'" the fan asked.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein nodded and responded: "Yeah."

The Cubs are hoping that someday soon, they won't need to lure players to be on that team that ends the 100-plus-year drought of winning a World Series championship.

"We do have a somewhat ironic sales pitch," Hoyer said. "The fact that we haven't won in a long time is so alluring to our players. I'm hoping someday we can't use that sales pitch any more, but at the moment, it's certainly effective."