Sports

Hoyer: Inability to extend stars top frustration

CHICAGO — Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer says his “greatest source of frustration” was the team’s inability to sign any of their stars to long-term contracts before trading them last Friday.

Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez were the talk of the baseball world last week as all three were moved within a span of 24 hours before MLB’s trade deadline. After years of conversations with the trio — attempting to sign them to long-term contracts — Hoyer finally gave up and moved on.

“That will probably be my greatest source of frustration from this era,” Hoyer said on ESPN 1000 radio in Chicago Monday morning. “I put my head on the pillow every night knowing we put our best foot forward. The extensions we offered these guys will hold up exceptionally well…against the open market. I don’t know why guys didn’t want to sign. I don’t know why guys didn’t want to even counteroffer, often times.”

Hoyer wasn’t just talking about Baez, Rizzo and Bryant. The lack of extensions and/or just counteroffers applied to other current and even former Cubs like Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell.

And there isn’t a one size fits all answer to why each of the big three is no longer a Cub. Baez was negotiating with the team in the spring of 2020 but the pandemic shut those talks down.

“We counteroffered then the pandemic hit,” Baez’s agent Nick Chanock said Monday.

Hoyer never indicated that all three refused to counteroffer, only that some didn’t. After suffering huge financial losses in 2020, the team wasn’t ready to spark up talks again with Baez, considering he had a terrible season. The Cubs never made an offer to Baez again as the trade deadline approached, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The same is true of Rizzo and Bryant. In Rizzo’s case, the team made him wait through both of his team option years in 2019 and 2020 before making him an offer this spring to continue as a Cub past 2021. It was well below what Rizzo was looking for and talks shut down.

“Every one of these guys would say they wanted to stay in Chicago, ‘we wanted to be a Cub,’ but then we would sit down and do negotiations, that wasn’t how they acted,” Hoyer said.

Bryant’s is the most confusing case of the three. Hoyer said on Friday that he made fair offers to all his stars but the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and 2016 MVP claims he never saw anything over $200 million — which was the minimum going rate to lock up a player of his caliber on a longer term deal.

In February 2020, Bryant was asked about a report which stated he turned down a contract worth over $200 million.

“Well north of $200 million? No,” he said. “Where are those [numbers]? I’ve never seen them.”

Hoyer referenced a relatively quick contract extension done across town with a pitcher, who was acquired by the White Sox in the winter, as an example of team and player coming together to make a deal.

“I see Lance Lynn, who comes to Chicago and signs an extension,” Hoyer said. “He certainly could have gotten more on the open market this winter but ‘I want to stay here. I want to be a White Sox.’ Other than Kyle Hendricks, who I admire for rolling up his sleeves with us, we didn’t have that.”

Hoyer isn’t second guessing his team’s efforts to sign the players. Unless any of them ink a deal with their new teams before November, all three will become free agents for the first time in their careers.

“I know what was offered,” Hoyer stated. “I know what the dialogue was. We put our best foot forward. We tried our hardest. Those efforts were not reciprocated.”

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