The Cubs focus this off-season has been on improving the roster. The front office has created depth in the bullpen with additions that did not grab headlines, brought back Trevor Cahill and created more buzz by signing free agents John Lackey, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and baseball ops are not finished tweaking the roster. While the heavy lifting is likely done, there will be more additions in the coming weeks.
The Cubs have addressed areas of the team that Epstein and Hoyer set out to in October, but there are two more rather important announcements that should be made before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 19.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are on the last year of the five-year contract they signed in October 2011, both contracts run through the 2016 season.
Crane Kenney recently had his contract extended for the second time. And Jason McLeod received an extension in 2014 when he removed his name from consideration for the GM job in San Diego.
Ownership was expected to extend Epstein’s contract last off-season. Reports suggested in October 2014 that an announcement would be made soon. When Joe Maddon became available, the front office’s plans changed and Epstein’s contract was no longer one of the team’s storylines.
Epstein and Hoyer have maintained they are committed to the Cubs for the long haul and would like to see The Plan they helped put in place produce the ultimate outcome.
Theo Epstein has reiterated the only time he thinks about his contract is when he’s asked about it. And not only is he on the same page with Tom Ricketts, he has a very good relationship with ownership.
In between fielding questions about Jason Heyward and the team’s off-season, Epstein and Ricketts said this past week that they just haven’t had a chance to sit down and iron-out Epstein’s new contract.
“We talked a couple of times over the summer. We haven’t sat down for like the final time. I think we’re basically on the same page. I think that will go fine,” Ricketts said on 670 The Score. There isn’t a sense of urgency for Ricketts or Epstein.
“I think we are kind of on the same page. At some point we need to address it and get it behind us.”
Epstein recently said he’s been trying to improve the team and is not worried about his status.
“It’s certainly on the backburner for me. The contracts I care about are the ones for the players who can contribute to winning a World Championship for the Chicago Cubs.”
“I’m not going to get into too much detail about it, but Tom [Ricketts] and I have obviously talked about the concept generally,” Epstein said on ESPN 1000. “We are just on the same page about wanting to be a part of this, wanting to see it through, wanting to be here. It is only a thought, only a concern when it is brought up by you guys and I appreciate it. But it’s something that will just take care of itself.”
“There is nowhere I would rather be and I feel lucky to be part of this.”
“What we experienced in October was special,” Epstein said. “Even going back and watching those highlights from time to time, can’t fall asleep and just go watch some of those October games. I mean we are just privileged to be a part of this and that is something we want to recreate year after year and ultimately have the big celebration.”
“Who would want to leave something like this?”