(CBS) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein knows better than anyone that his franchise has parted with a great deal of talent in its farm system in the past 12 months, dating back to the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman a year ago and last week’s trade for Jose Quintana.
Epstein also knows this: There was never a doubt such an approach was what the Cubs needed to take to position themselves for the lone goal of winning a World Series and then trying to do that again.
So please, don’t for a second bring up your worry about the state of the Cubs’ farm system after the exit of top-five prospect Gleyber Torres last year and top-15 prospect Eloy Jimenez recently. Epstein truly has no time for that, other than his minute-long response in an interview with Brian Hanley and Barry Rozner on 670 The Score on Thursday morning.
“First of all, I think we have a ton of talent in our farm system,” Epstein said. “They’re just a little bit earlier on in their development path than some of the players we’ve gotten used to. I kind of laugh when people start to criticize the state of the farm system because the entire goal of a farm system is not to win Midwest League championships or Southern League championships or PCL championships. The goal of the farm system is to get your players to the big league level so that they can win a world championship and 1a) take some of your prospects and trade them for big league players so you can win championships. That’s exactly what’s happened in this organization. The Cubs, we built one of best farm systems — I think for a while there, it was the best farm system in baseball. And that was great. It got a lot of attention. But we didn’t want the credit for the farm system. What we wanted was to see if we could do the tricky part, which was turn a lauded farm system into a World Series champion. And thanks to the efforts of our players and our staff, that’s what happened.
Epstein was just getting started.
“The guys from our farm system, one (Willson Contreras) just hit a three-run home run in the big leagues last night,” Epstein said. “Another (Albert Almora Jr.) hit a solo home run. Going around the diamond, it’s catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field and center field when it’s (Ian) Happ or Almora. So virtually our entire team is a product of our farm system, and that’s what you want.
“If you reach a point where your entire farm system is in the big leagues, you’ve traded a couple guys for players who are now in the big leagues, you know what you do? You start over in your farm system and you keep developing the talented players you have. They become top prospects and you draft well and you sign well and they become top prospects. It’s not a static thing. It’s not frozen in time, where heaven forbid you trade a couple of prospects because you’re never going to have any again. No, you replenish and you move on. We’re hopefully in a long cycle of winning. We want this, you could say it started in 2015, we’d like it to last at least seven years. If we have an unbelievable run — which we haven’t accomplished yet and there’s so much work to do — but if we have a run of contention from 2015 through 2021, I guarantee you at that point we will have fully replenished the farm system, and the cycle starts over again.”
And he had a closing line with a kicker.
“When people talk about our farm system, that’s great,” Epstein said. “I love our player development staff, I love our scouting operation, I know our commitment to young players, but the best part of our farm system right now is at the lower levels, where the talent is emerging, and at the big leagues, where they’re all wearing rings.”
Listen to Epstein’s full interview below.