Keeping Contreras and Happ, Impact of Qualifying Offer, Trading Effross, Cubs Called on Soto-Ohtani, No Davis or Amaya This Year, More

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer on 670 The Score this morning and he shared a LOT — not just about the deadline and the deals the Cubs did or didn’t make, but also the Cubs involvement in the Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto sweepstakes and the chances of seeing Brennen Davis or Miguel Amaya in Chicago this season. I did my best to capture his answers from him live below, paraphrased…

  • We were very well prepared, we went into the deadline saying if we can demonstrably improve our future, certainly that’s something we’ll consider. But you know, we never got close to that line so it made that decision (not to make certain trades) fairly easy at the end. Obviously, you don’t trade really good players unless you feel like you can stand up in front of the fan base and say our future just got a lot brighter.
  • Last year, we felt like we had some deals lined up that we really felt incredibly strongly about. And this year we didn’t. I think we made a couple really good trades. But I think the ones that were maybe more expected obviously never materialized, and that’s because they’re really good players and we never got close to the right price.
  • On the disparity between what the Cubs thought Willson Contreras was worth and other teams: We value Willson a lot given his contributions to the team and what we know he brings everyday. I do think that market is a tight market. The relationship between a pitching staff and a catcher during the course of a year, it builds. And I think a lot of teams are reluctant to change catching mid-season because of the challenges of learning a new pitching staff in the middle of the year. It was a tight market. You know, candidly, we had a feeling it could be. We conveyed that to Willson and his representatives of him — ‘You know, this is no sure thing.’ I think clearly based on the media coverage there was an assumption that this was definitely going to happen. But I think we knew that there were just a handful of teams that might consider such a transaction. But we ultimately knew that it’s not like having a starting pitcher or a having a relief pitcher where everyone can use a really good starting pitcher or a really good relief pitcher. I think people view the catching market differently and that’s how it played out.
  • Jed Hoyer reiterated how bad he felt for Contreras and Ian Happ dealing with cameras in their face all the time as everyone focused on their departure. But he also reiterated that he told them both they wouldn’t be traded for pennies on the dollar. “They knew that.” He also said the “coverage of the trade market,” from the media “contributed emotionally” to how hard it was on Happ and Contreras. Which, love ya, Jed, but gee…I wonder why we thought you were going to trade all of our remaining favorite players.
  • Are contract extensions possible with both or either guy? And how does it affect the big picture plan for the rebuild: Of course that’s possible. Nothing’s changed about how we’re gonna talk about that stuff publicly. We aren’t going to bring that up. Hopefully that doesn’t become 60 days of being asked what the status of those things are. I’ve got a good relationship with (their agents). But we aren’t going to talk about where things are in terms of an extension. As far as the future, with Ian we definitely have him for next year. With Willson he’s a free agent and that process has to play out.
  • To me the biggest and most important thing is my goal is to build something that’s really special, to build something that can go deep in October and win championships. And I don’t want to think that building something you hope can maybe be respectable or maybe sneak into a wild card position, that’s not what snaps me out of bed in the morning. When I look at my career and the memories I have – all the truly great memories are the teams that won a championship or had a chance to win a championship. That’s what I want to build here. So we’re going to work really hard to do that. Sometimes we’re going to make moves to line that up for the future. That’s the goal. Nothing’s changed in that regard… We’re not trying to build something that can just sneak in. That’s not the goal.
  • The ruling on the international draft and the qualifying offer does have an impact. You’re sort of given a floor of that value. You know that if you’re not able to reach agreement and extend Willson, then you know that you have the qualifying offer and you know that you have the draft pick that comes with that. Certainly that is part of the calculus. It’d be crazy not to factor that in as you talk to different teams. The decision to hold both guys, their value to the Cubs, as players as people, far exceeded what we were being offered. It really is that simple.
  • Hoyer says he called the Angels and the Nationals on both Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto: “Obviously, you have to check in, but I think right now, going into 2023 effectively, it did not make sense to be involved in the Juan Soto sweepstakes .” I think you have to have a real structure, a real foundation built to make that kind of transaction. I think with the Padres, they this is their window and believe they are absolutely ready to win the World Series right now with him. And they paid a really heavy price to do that, to get one of the best hitters we’ll ever see. We’re not right now in a position as an organization to do that. Now, would we have entertained that sort of thing in 2016, 2017, or 2018? Absolutely. Do I look forward to at some point in the next few years feeling differently? Absolutely. But right now certainly the time wasn’t right.
  • On trading Scott Effross – Do you guys feel the pitching lab can produce more players like him and is that why it made it easier to trade him? um, yeah. I don’t want to … Scott worked really hard. And he’s a great story of perseverance. We actually talked about that a lot on the phone for quite a while when we made the trade. His career arc of him, his career path of him is just so fascinating…. He deserves so much credit…. But, yes, I do feel like our pitching infrastructure is in a great place. We do believe that we can produce pitching. And for us, it was just a calculation of, you know, right now Scott Effross is a high-leverage reliever. The value of that at the deadline is very high for teams that are trying to play deep in October. And right now we’re not going to play in October this year. So for us to get a starting pitching prospect we’ve really coveted for a long time, who’s very close to the big leagues, that just made a lot of sense… This felt like the right move for the future of the organization.
  • Will we see Brennen Davis or Miguel Amaya in Chicago before the end of the season? Probably not, candidly. I think with Miguel Amaya, he’s been hitting great in Tennessee, but he’s not going to be ready defensively to do that [because of the Tommy John recovery process]. So I think it’s unlikely that we would do that, since I can’t catch it. With Brennen, it’s been a strange year for him. There’s been good news and bad news throughout the course of the year with his injury from him. The good news is that the surgery he had was not on his discs of him, so really it’s something we expect a completely full recovery from. We need to get him back and get him the at-bats he lost in the Minor Leagues and then hopefully we can figure out what he can do this fall to make sure that he didn’t stall in his development by not getting enough plate appearances . The future is really bright for both guys and I do think that it’s exciting to me that so many good things have happened in the farm system this year, and two of our best prospects, Amaya and Brennen have been hurt, and even with that we I’ve still seen some good advances. The future is bright for those guys, but I think it’s unlikely we’ll see them in Chicago this year.

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