Brewers: How Might Theo Epstein Leaving the Cubs Affect the Crew?
With the Cubs changing up their president of baseball operations, will there be any ripple effect for the Brewers and their NL Central companions?
The 2020-2021 offseason has been relatively quiet for the Brewers so far. Outside of some recent Rule 5 driven additions to the 40-man roster and some 2021 contract option decisions that were made, no free agent signings, trades, or other major moves have taken place.
The same can’t be said of Milwaukee’s divisional opponents across the Illinois border. The Chicago Cubs made some waves last week when it was announced that the architect of the team’s first World Series win in over a century would be leaving the organization this month.
Epstein had been president of baseball operations of the Cubs since October of 2011. After three years of sitting at or near the bottom of the NL Central, he was able to rebuild the team into a contender, reaching the playoffs in 2015 and eventually seeing Chicago win their first World Series in 108 years in 2016.
Though many saw that as the opening of a window for multiple attempts at additional championships, that wasn’t to be. They would only make it as far as the NLCS once in the following four seasons and after winning the NL Central in 2020, the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round by the Miami Marlins.
Now Epstein hands the reins over to Jed Hoyer, who takes over as president of baseball operations. So as the Cubs go through this transition in leadership, what effect, if any, might that have on the Milwaukee Brewers?
A changing of the guard for the Cubs could mean available players for the rest of the league and a more wide open division.
Not much has been divulged yet as to what Hoyer’s direction with the team might be in terms of setting up the roster for the future. But a day before Chicago’s Epstein announcement, some rumors emerged regarding the Cubs’ potential offseason plans.
Buster Olney of ESPN, in a piece that touched on a variety of topics ($), mentioned how Epstein has indicated that the team may end up making some surprising moves over the coming months. According to Olney:
"Theo Epstein, the Chicago Cubs’ head of baseball operations, has acknowledged that the team faces changes this winter. In conversations with other teams, the Cubs are signaling there will be significant turnover on the roster, with a willingness to move almost any veteran — as well as just about anyone from the core group of position players who won the 2016 World Series, including shortstop Javier Baez."
Whether this is in an attempt to blow things up or just make changes in general, the strategy shouldn’t come as a surprise. Many of the team’s key players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber all hit free agency after next season.
If the Cubs do indeed end up moving some of their core players, there’s a good chance it benefits the Brewers in one way or another. Even if Milwaukee isn’t able to somehow capitalize and acquire any of the players – Chicago probably doesn’t want to trade their players within the division, after all – just having some of them potentially out of the NL Central would be a good thing.
If Hoyer actually decides to go into any level of a rebuild, it leaves the division wide open. The Cubs were the only team to separate themselves from the pack in 2020, but without their firepower, any of the other NL Central teams who make the correct offseason moves could position themselves to take over the throne.
Of course, no one knows what will happen in the future with the Cubs after their leadership change until it actually happens. So for now, the Brewers need to just focus on doing what they need to do in order to improve for 2021.