Is Hoyer ready to unload some star Cubs players?

  • Could Kris Bryant be one of the first to go if the Cubs decide to unload key roster pieces at the trade deadline?

    Could Kris Bryant be one of the first to go if the Cubs decide to unload key roster pieces at the trade deadline?

Updated 7/9/2021 7:04 AM

Die-hard Cubs fans know all about the long list of their team's collapses.

Many would consider the top three to be the 1969 meltdown, the 1984 squad blowing a 2-0 series lead in the NLCS to the Padres, and Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS when the Marlins erased a 3-0 deficit with an 8-run eighth.


There are plenty of others, though, including:

• Bill Buckner, Bobby Murcer, Manny Trillo, Rick Reuschel, Bruce Sutter and Co. going 60-39 in 1977 through July 28 only to go 21-42 the rest of the way. That team, which held an 8-game lead in the NL East on June 29, finished 20 games out of first.

• Ryne Sandberg, Jody Davis, Leon Durham and Co. going 35-19 through June 11, 1985, then losing 13 straight. A 4-game lead turned into a 4-game deficit and the Cubs finished 77-84.

• Sammy Sosa, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Co. losing seven of the last nine games in 2004, blowing what looked to be a surefire wild-card berth.

The latest avert-your-eyes pileup on Sheffield and Waveland came in the form of an 11-game skid that finally ended Wednesday when the Cubs defeated Philadelphia 8-3 at Wrigley Field.

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The lengthy implosion sent the Cubs tumbling out of a first-place tie with Milwaukee and into third place in the NL Central.

And while we can't say for sure how this story will play out, it seems unlikely to end in a playoff berth.

Especially with the trade deadline looming and players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez eligible for free agency after the season.

Jed Hoyer, the Cubs president of baseball operations, understands this all too well and sounded Thursday like he will go into Sell Mode soon.

"You have to keep one eye on the future and think about what moves you can potentially make that can help build the next great Cubs team," he said. "It would be irresponsible not to take those phone calls and think through them."

If Bryant, Rizzo and Baez leave, sentimental fans will no doubt have a difficult time seeing them play for other franchises. All three were such integral parts of the 2016 World Series champs, each endearing themselves to the city in different ways.


Baez's departure might be toughest to take, considering the infectious energy he brings to the ballpark on a daily basis.

"We've believed in these guys since 2015 and they've had tons of success," Hoyer said. "I would never count these guys out, but 11 days ago we were fully on the buy side ... and everyone was calling about that.

"Life comes at you fast. ... Eleven days certainly changes a lot of things."

It sure does.

Others who could be dealt include catcher Willson Contreras, closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Joc Pederson. The Cubs hold a club option on Kimbrel for 2022, while Pederson's contract has a mutual option. Contreras will be a free agent.

Hoyer wouldn't use the word "rebuild" when talking of shipping out any -- or all -- of his stars before the July 31 deadline.

"The decisions we're making, the processes we're going through are completely different," Hoyer said. "That label is certainly something to be avoided. We are going to have roster turnover. That was inevitable.

"This is certainly not a rebuild by any kind of definition that we'd be using from our past."


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