Hoyer made Darvish deal to kick-start Cubs reset

    Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers MLB for ESPN.com.

CHICAGO — Cubs president Jed Hoyer didn’t want to become one of those organizations with little talent left at the end of its current window of contention.

So, with a clear eye toward the future, he traded star pitcher Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres earlier this week for four young prospects and starter Zach Davies.

“There are teams that never had that opportunity or chose not to take it,” Hoyer said of retooling. “The Giants and the Phillies and the Tigers are examples.”

Hoyer cited the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as teams he’d like the Cubs to be associated with as they attempt to reset for another run. The Cubs made the postseason in five of the past six seasons but have stalled at the end of each of the past three, mostly because of an anemic offense.

Several core players who helped them to a World Series title in 2016 are coming to the end of the club’s contractual control, further pointing to an organizational reset.

One thing Hoyer won’t do, however, is a full-on rebuild for the second time in a decade.

“I’m not going to run the same playbook that we ran in 2011 and ’12,” Hoyer said. “That would be foolish and … frankly, that playbook has been copied so many times, it doesn’t work the same way anymore.”

Hoyer indicated a change was necessary after more than a half-decade of spending money and prospect capital in order to win. It worked from 2015 to 2017 as Chicago reached the National League Championship Series all three seasons, but offseason and July deadline moves the past three years produced little success in October.

“We’ve been as aggressive as possible for this group over the past six years … with prospects, with money,” Hoyer said. “At some point you have to have one eye on the present and one eye on the future. … We have a lot of really good players, but do we need to make some moves with the future in mind after six years of moves being directed on the present? Yes. I think that’s the prudent thing to do.”

Moving Darvish is likely just one part of a larger plan by Hoyer, who took over in November when Theo Epstein stepped down. The Cubs already non-tendered slugger Kyle Schwarber but still have decisions to make on Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez and Kris Bryant — all of whom will be free agents after next season.

Tuesday’s deal might be the first of several this offseason and next summer.

“The focus on this deal was to try to move a player on the second half of his contract and acquire young talent,” Hoyer said. “We kept trading more prospects. We kept spending money on this team. We’re at that time right now.”

Hoyer won’t discount contending in a weak NL Central in 2021, but he won’t be pushing his chips all-in as the Cubs have done in the past. He’ll also go it alone, for now, as he doesn’t plan on hiring a general manager until next summer.

“I’m never going to be able to replicate the relationship I had with Theo,” Hoyer said. “That trust can never be replicated in the interview process. … I’m going to wait until I have a chance to go through the process in the way I want to go through the process. To hurry that process right now … it didn’t seem like the right thing.”

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