When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer started the now infamous rebuild of the Chicago Cubs in 2011, they had their work cut out for them. Spoilers ahead for those not caught up.
They broke the 108-year-old curse last season, defeating the Cleveland Indians in one of the greatest World Series of all time. To get there, though, they tore down a Cubs team that desperately needed it and frankly had no reason to be as bad as they were.
Incompetent management gonna incompetently manage.
Trades have been the Hail Mary method for the Cubbies. Epstein and Hoyer swindled team after team (sometimes the same team) during their quest to the top, including Hoyer’s former Padres team for Epstein’s former draftee when they swapped Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo.
Jake Arrieta was acquired from the Orioles —along with Pedro Strop and $1 million in international spending— for Scott Feldman. Jeff Samardzjia inexplicably netted them top prospect Addison Russell.
Samardzija, traded a year after Feldman, had this to say about the deal that preceded him. "I don't think this team improves by trading Scott Feldman. He was one of our better pitchers. He's thrown a lot of innings, a solid dude, a solid guy in the clubhouse. It's a shame to see him go.”
It’s a good thing players don’t manage themselves.
Kyle Hendricks was acquired from the Rangers for Ryan Dempster, then Matt Garza to the same Texas club a year later for Carl “Don’t call me C.J.” Edwards, Jr. They exchanged Luis Valbuena and Dexter Fowler with the Astros, too.
The Cubs have also become power players in international free agency, scoring Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez while making big leaguers out of their last three first round draft picks.
Kris Bryant is the reigning National League MVP (what if the Astros took him instead of Mark Appel?), Kyle Schwarber was a World Series hero and should make multiple stops at multiple All-Star Game’s, and Ian Happ was called up for his big league debut on Saturday, clubbing a home run in game one and going 3-for-7 in his first two games.
After sitting out the top of the 2016 MLB Draft (forfeiting their two primary picks to St. Louis to sign John Lackey and Jason Heyward), the Cubs will pick twice in 2017 (the rival Cardinals returned the favor by signing Fowler).
On their way to baseball royalty, the Cubbies certainly had some fun with the trade market. The Batman and Robin team-up of Epstein and Hoyer made chump meat out of maestros Billy Beane, Jon Daniels and Jeff Luhnow, making the trade market their tool of trade.