5 takeaways from Hoyer: Moves coming, infield and more
MESA, Ariz. -- On the second floor of the Cubs' Arizona complex, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and his front-office team have been on the hunt for roster additions. For a few minutes over the weekend, new general manager Carter Hawkins headed down to Field 1 to shake hands and meet some players in person.
"We've never experienced something like this," Hoyer said of the market reopening after baseball's lockout. "It was kind of start your engines and start making phone calls as fast as you can. Everyone was doing it. This is kind of a crazy transaction period we've never had before."
Prior to the Cubs' first official workout on Monday, Hoyer and Hawkins met with media to discuss the last few days and the hectic runway to Opening Day. As the team in hand starts ramping up, Chicago is searching for pitching depth and more help for the offense.
"We're going to continue to look to add," Hoyer said. "It's not a knock on the guys here, but we have open spots and we'll continue to add."
Here are five highlights from Hoyer's first sit-down of Spring Training:
1. What will make this a successful season?
Hoyer: "It's undeniable that we are going to have an eye on the future. I've said hundreds of times, you guys: the goal is to build the next great Cubs team. In my career, I've been around a number of teams that I think were really special. We built that once here and we want to build that again. So, we'll try to thread that needle as well as possible. We're going to make moves to compete, but certainly we're not going to do things that are inconsistent with what we've done over the last 16 months."
Takeaway: Over the last year-plus, the Cubs have made a point to inject the farm system with a wave of prospect talent via blockbuster trades, the MLB Draft and the international market. Chicago did net a top free agent in righty Marcus Stroman, but did so on a short-term deal (three-years, $71 million).
2. Is there a "significant" move coming?
Hoyer: Certainly, we're having a lot of conversations, I've done this too long to assume that anything gets across the finish line, so you try keep a lot of balls in the air. And some of those, maybe you guys would deem significant. And some may not be, you know? But, certainly, I never assume anything is going to get done until it's actually done."
Takeaway: The biggest name on the minds of Cubs fans is free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa. His age (27), ability and position makes him a fit for the roster, but the potential length of the deal may not fit the Cubs' timeline. If a shorter deal is possible, that's when the Cubs may become more realistic.
3. What are the Cubs prioritizing right now?
Hoyer: "We obviously have a number of holes to address. Our biggest focus, candidly, has been -- and we've said this over and over -- is on pitching and pitching depth. I think as an industry right now ... everyone knows the value of innings early in season."
Takeaway: Injuries to setup man Codi Heuer (Tommy John surgery on his right elbow) and starter Adbert Alzolay (right shoulder tightness) have the Cubs looking for back-end rotation depth and bullpen help, especially in the form of multi-inning relievers.
4. Are the Cubs comfortable with their current middle-infield options?
Hoyer: "We have a lot of confidence in Nico [Hoerner] playing shortstop. He's also an elite defensive second baseman. We couldn't be more excited to trade for [Nick] Madrigal [last year]. ... So, I think we have three middle infielders we have a ton of faith in. And I think, almost like on the pitching side, we'll continue to add depth and give [manager David Ross] options of how to move guys around."
Takeaway: Andrelton Simmons' one-year deal with the Cubs is not official, but he would give Ross an elite defensive shortstop for a sinker-heavy pitching staff. Barring another addition, Simmons can help Ross build in days off for Hoerner and/or Madrigal, who combined for 98 games due to health woes in 2021.
5. Will the Cubs engage in extension talks with Willson Contreras this spring?
Hoyer: "Right now, we're totally focused on putting the team together and getting things started. So, that's where our mindset is right now. And candidly, you guys know we've talked to him in the past. We want to always to keep that stuff in house. So I'm not going to signal one way or another."
Takeaway: Contreras said on Sunday that there have been no extension talks this spring, adding that his preference would be to discuss that in the preseason or next offseason. In the meantime, the Cubs still have to settle the All-Star catcher's arbitation case.