The Chicago Cubs have already said that they will be sellers at the 2021 trade deadline, which implies that they won’t compete for a playoff spot.
They have, however, avoided the word ‘rebuild’ up to this point, instead focusing on trading a few assets this year.
They would be better off embracing a full-on rebuilding process that may take a couple of years, perhaps more, but will be more beneficial in the long run.
Here is why the Cubs should consider blowing it all up instead of just being “sellers.”
They Have A Mediocre Farm, Expiring Deals And Not Too Much Money To Spend
The Cubs’ farm system isn’t particularly good.
Before the 2021 season, it was ranked 22 out of 30 teams by MLB.com, which is comfortably in the bottom half.
Regarding their major league roster, lots of potential future contributors will hit the market this season: first baseman Anthony Rizzo, third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Javier Baez, closer Craig Kimbrel, and starter Zach Davies.
Key reliever Ryan Tepera will also hit the market in a few months.
The Cubs would be smart to trade them all, because otherwise they risk losing them for nothing in October.
So far, none of those players have indicated they will sign contract extensions to stay in Chicago.
That means there is no point in retaining them: everyone should be traded.
The moment to get value for those assets is now.
It’s hard for a big market fan base like the Cubs to accept that they need to blow it all up, but that should be the direction to embrace.
‘Retooling’ For 2022 Doesn’t Make Sense
Some media sectors have discussed the option of retooling for the Cubs.
‘Retooling’ means that the team can trade a few selected assets but intend to compete in 2022.
Compete with what?
If they plan to sign, or approach, at least a few of their pending free agents to extensions, then sure, it’s a good idea.
But if retooling means trading, say Bryant, and then letting Rizzo, Baez, and company walk with no return other than a few compensatory picks in the drafts, then it doesn’t sound like a very good idea.
At this point, there are very few pieces that the Cubs can say with certainty that will contribute in the future.
Alzolay is one, and Kyle Hendricks has two additional years of control plus an option.
Although the Cubs have a number of players up for grabs, don't count on Kyle Hendricks being part of the exodus. The pitcher is "definitely not being shopped" according to a source, and barring an unexpectedly great offer, the Cubs are "not trying to move him."
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 26, 2021
Ian Happ has lacked consistency.
It makes sense, therefore, to deal them in the upcoming days and take advantage of the market.
With all the new prospects added in the recent draft plus the expected influx from the trade deadline, now is the time to act. The Cubs are entering a retool/rebuild phase and greater focus will be needed on the next wave(s) of players from the farm system. Now is the time to act
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) July 24, 2021
Several contenders are looking for upgrades, and they can almost find everything they need in the Cubs: infielders, outfielders, starters, relievers, and even a former MVP.
If there is something the Cubs need to retool, it’s their farm system, and they can take a huge step in that direction by trading all their pending free agents before July 30.