(CBS) As the Cubs continue to amass highly valued assets in their minor league system, they continue to preach that when those prospects are ready, they’ll figure out the best way to arrange the puzzle pieces.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has reiterated that time and again, and general manager Jed Hoyer echoed those thoughts Monday morning in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Peggy Kusinski on 670 The Score when asked about the franchise’s blockbuster trade on Friday — sending starter pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for top-10 prospect Addison Russell, 2013 first-round pick Billy McKinney and starting pitcher Dan Straily.
Over the weekend, Epstein called the deal a “no-brainer.” Hoyer added that when you’re not contending, amassing the best talent possible — as opposed to filling needs — is the way to go.
“Right now, we’re not just assembling a team on the field,” Hoyer said.
“We try to take the best guy available. It keeps our options open for later. You never know what’s going to happen. Guys can move positions. Teams can ask about guys in different trades. The other thing is, guys are going to flame out. There’s going to be some attrition from this group. We’re not nieve enough to think every one of these top prospects is going to make it and live up to their potential. Some guys will probably exceed it, and some guys will probably fall short of that. But if you have enough depth, it gives you confidence.
“There’s only a finite amount of talent, and if you start restricting the talent pool in your trades, I think you can make some pretty big mistakes.”
Proposed a hypothetical, Hoyer said that Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro and Javier Baez all could play in the outfield “in theory” if a situation arises in which the infield is too crowded. Currently, Castro is the starting shortstop, and Baez and Russell man the same position in the minors. Russell is considered the best defensive talent of those three by most scouts. Bryant is a third baseman but has played outfield in the past as well.
Hoyer also confirmed that the versatile Arismendy Alcantara will begin playing “a lot more center fielder” at Triple-A Iowa. Alcantara came up as a second baseman and has only been playing center field about once per series.
When asked if Alcantara could be called up to the big leagues, Hoyer said the Cubs are “not sure” and stressed that it’s a “challenge” to switch positions.
“He’s having a great year,” Hoyer said. “I’m glad people are starting to talk about him more.”
Only Anthony Rizzo at first base is locked into a position, Hoyer said.
Hoyer also addressed the Samardzija negotiations that failed, the prospects for McKinney and the goal for Straily. Listen to the full interview below.