(CBS) A year after making a big splash ahead of the trade deadline by acquiring closer Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees for highly touted shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, the Cubs are unsure of how they’ll approach the trade market this summer.

Entering play Thursday, Chicago was 20-19 and two games behind St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cubs’ uneven play early in the season is markedly different from 2016, when they started 25-6 en route to a championship. From mid-May on in 2016, the Cubs knew they would be buying big ahead of the trade deadline.

As it sits now, they’re still unsure of their role.

“Last year’s team made it really clear that we needed to be aggressive, with the way they played coming out of the gate, with how balanced the team was,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday on the Spiegel and Parkins Show. “We felt there was one, clear obvious need to be a dominant playoff team, and that was to get that guy in the back end of the bullpen. Sort of our mantra, so to speak, is ‘If not now, when? If we’re not going to do an aggressive move to bolster this team in a year we’re going to win the division, we’re going to win a ton of games, we’re healthy and we have balance, then you’re not ever going to do it.

“I don’t know yet. We’ll have to figure out where we are as a team, how we’re performing. You want to make sure when you do make those big bets, you want to make sure you’re making those big bets on teams you feel can win. And I think this team certainly can. Obviously, we have a lot of baseball left to play and we have to be healthy. And we have to figure out where our holes are.”

Hoyer then delivered a line that he views as important, considering the Cubs are smack dab in the middle of their championship window.

“Ultimately, right now, this is a winning time for the Chicago Cubs, and we need to be aggressive and try to continue that winning,” he said.

With two wild cards in each league, teams are more likely to wait until closer to the trade deadline to decide whether they’re buyers or sellers. As Hoyer pointed out, a good or bad weekend series for a team sometime in July can make all the difference. So for the Cubs, it’s about being patient and prepared.

“We’re still in the process of figuring out who’s going to be available,” Hoyer said. “We’re still putting that board together. Over the next month or month-and-a-half, you end up with a ranked (preference list), both of our own guys and the external guys. This is the time we have to do our work to be prepared, because there’s going to come a day in late June or early July when any phone call you get could be, ‘Hey, I’ve got another deal, if you guys will do X, we’ll do your deal.’ And you have to be able to answer within a couple hours. You can’t wait around. You got to be in that constant state of readiness.”

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