Hoyer on Cubs: It's time to prioritize the up-and-comers

August 9th, 2022

CHICAGO -- As Jed Hoyer sat in the home dugout at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations discussed the team’s decision to part ways with veteran Jason Heyward after this season. It is time, Hoyer explained, to prioritize playing time for up-and-comers like Christopher Morel and Nelson Velázquez.

Then, Morel and Velázquez each launched a home run in a 6-3 win over the Nationals on Monday night, while Keegan Thompson further solidified his place as a rotation piece and shortstop Nico Hoerner delivered another run-scoring hit as one of the young leaders on the club. The way Hoyer sees things, there is more coming soon from a farm system that has been boosted via blockbuster trades, international signings and the MLB Draft over the past two seasons.

“Through that depth,” Hoyer said, “our hope is certainly that we'll churn out a lot of big leaguers that will impact here. And I feel really good that our eggs aren't just in a couple baskets. We're not a one-, or two- or three-player farm system. I think we're really deep, and I think that stands out.”

Here are some highlights of Hoyer's pregame chat on the state of the Cubs:

On whether he has met with Willson Contreras and Ian Happ after they were involved in trade rumors, but not dealt at the Deadline
"We'll keep personal conversations personal. But what I think I wanted to express to them is that I wouldn't want, personally, to have where I'm going to be moving, where I'm going to be living, traded every single day, you're talked about for weeks on end, having people having cameras on you, watching your reaction to everything -- is this your last this or last that? -- I think there's an emotional toll that takes.

"And no one did anything wrong. The media is doing their job in reporting on a story. But at the same time, there's an emotional toll that goes with that. Having people watching you as a potential life-changing thing may happen. And I was very clear with them and with their agents prior to the Deadline that, ‘This may not happen. I'm aware just this is being reported as a fait accompli, but this is not.' We have a high value of both players, both All-Stars. They've both been real contributors here.

"We had a real price that we were not going to go below. So they knew that. They were aware of that. But certainly, I think their expectation was that they would be traded. And I think that was part of, for me, what I wanted to express is, 'I understand the emotional toll, and I'm glad we still have you.'"

On if this season is similar to 2014, when the Cubs were getting close to being aggressive in adding to their roster for playoff runs starting in 2015
"We were a little bit more, probably, mature farm system than we are right now. But listen, the process of selling to me, it's sort of a necessary evil at times. When you are not winning in the Major Leagues, you want to make sure that you use that opportunity for a brighter future. I remember it was pretty apparent in 2014, just given where those prospects were, that we would kind of have a whole team of prospects on the field in 2015. And I think that is less so [the case right now]. But that's what we're building towards. And that's what we want to create."

On whether the Cubs will spend in free agency this coming offseason to address their needs
"Yeah, I expect to be aggressive this winter. There's no question. I think we'll have some money to spend. Certainly, we want to invest that money wisely. Our goal is to build something special. And trying to do that too quickly, or trying to kind of do it all at once can be a mistake. But certainly, there's going to be good players on the market and I'm sure we're going to be involved in those discussions."

On how Hoerner's performance this year could impact how the Cubs view shortstop for the next few years
"He's been great. I think he's proven to everyone that he's an above-average Major League defensive shortstop. He's put the work in. He's consistent. A lot of credit to him, a lot of credit to his offseason program and to [bench coach] Andy Green for all the work they've put in. He's been excellent. Certainly, I have all the confidence in the world that he can do that for a while."

On the status of top prospect Brennen Davis (back surgery in June) and whether he might be ready for games this fall or in winter ball
"With Brennen, he's in Arizona, he's hitting. We're certainly hopeful to get him back and figure out what his fall-winter looks like. Yeah, it's going to be really important for him next year. Do you want to give a guy a real offseason? You don't want to just have a guy play straight through. But also, he's missed a lot of at-bats that are important at-bats. So, we need to figure that balance out. I think once we get him to truly game-ready, then I think we'll have a lot of those discussions about what the fall and winter look like for him."