The Chicago Cubs’ franchise renaissance began unexpectedly in 2015. Following three seasons of an aggressive organizational and cultural rebuild that resulted in a 200-286 record on the field over that time, the vision Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer promised in October 2011 came alive.
It all began with sending top pitching prospect Andrew Cashner to the San Diego Padres for now-franchise first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who since his Cubs debut in 2012 has become the face of the Chicago Cubs. Since then, Epstein and Hoyer have placed a significant amount of time scouting and on the trade market to patiently build a Cubs team that won 97 games in 2015.
Cubs fans don’t like patience; nobody would when you spend 107 years without winning a championship. There was frustration when a resurgent Scott Feldman was traded to Baltimore for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop in 2013. There was anger when Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel were sent to Oakland for Addison Russell one year later. But after a season in which Joe Maddon and Jon Lester came to Chicago for a season and Arrieta, Strop and Russell would play key roles in helping the Cubs to their first postseason since 2008, Epstein and Hoyer came out looking like masterminds, and the frustration became ancient history.
And despite being swept in the NLCS by the surging New York Mets to end the magical 2015 campaign, they’re in the driver’s seat in the National League.
The future is bright on the North Side of Chicago, and with a roster poised for long-term success along with the potential of breaking the greatest championship drought in sports history, the Cubs have become a destination for free agents, as evidenced by the offseason haul.