(CBS) From the beginning of his time in Chicago in October 2011, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has been as forthcoming with his rebuilding plan as any executive in baseball.
First, he said it will take time to bring a consistent winner back to Wrigley Field, and it has.
Epstein wanted to replenish the minor league system with big bats and position players, and that’s exactly what he and general manager Jed Hoyer have gone about doing.
All along, Epstein emphasized that a free agency splash would come when the Cubs’ baseball operations timeline matched up with the business side’s development. Certainly, patience has been needed and shown on that front.
Now, Epstein’s confidently saying it’s time to pay attention to his Cubs, who have called up three highly regarded prospects since early July and will have at least one more in top prospect Kris Bryant up early next season.
“We’re going to be must-see TV,” Epstein said in an interview with Barry Rozner and Matt Abbatacola on 670 The Score on Thursday morning.
With a new TV deal on the horizon for the Cubs (they recently opted out of a deal with WGN, effective after this season ends, and their contract with Comcast SportsNet expires after the 2019 season), Epstein said he’s “bullish” on it because, “It’s incredible how fans have responded to the young players and how excited they are.”
None of the quality development of players like Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell and Bryant will change the Cubs’ approach, though. The “process” that Cubs executives always talk about won’t be sped up, Epstein said.
“I’m not sure I’d trade our long-term future for anybody’s,” Epstein said. “We don’t want to jeopardize that. We need to be caretakers of that.
“The best thing we can do is set it aside (the outside noise). As much as we care about our fans and how they feel and what they think, we really need to set (their noise) aside when it comes to our decision-making process and create a vacuum. We just assume the fans will be happy if we’re playing baseball in October just about every October … So we focus all our energies into trying to make that happen.”
Still, Epstein is a realist. He acknowledged the Cubs won’t get every perfect piece they want at the right time when it comes to making a splash in free agency one of these seasons. At some point, Chicago must take a gamble of sorts — one that’s likely to come in the next 18 months as the Cubs look to acquire more pitching talent.
“We’re going to make moves at some point that are sort of exceptions that you have to swallow hard and look away and just do them,” Epstein said. “Because baseball’s not a free market place. You can’t find players the right age all the time. You can’t find players on the right contracts all the time.”
Listen to the full interview below. Epstein also talks about Jake Arrieta’s potential as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and the development of slugging prospect Kyle Schwarber.