July 30 and 31 will go down in history as the day that the Cubs traded away some of the most popular players in team history. Those were some rough moments for the Cubs and their fans, and it has led to a pretty meaningless last few weeks of the season.
Now that we are more than a month removed from those two days, it seems pretty clear that trading away Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez was the right move to make. It’s still a hard pill to swallow, but those trades were in the best interest of the franchise.
The Cubs still have to make a number of other important decisions over the next few months to capitalize on these trades, but the moves simply had to be done.
Schwindel, Wisdom Are the Future
Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were the cornerstones of this franchise for the last six-plus years, and they shared a bond that was pretty special. Those two players also represented the corners of the infield for the Cubs, but those positions are easily replaceable in the Major Leagues.
The Cubs might not have to look very hard for their replacements as two players on the roster seem to be taking over those jobs. Patrick Wisdom might be the NL Rookie of the Year at third base and Frank Schwindel has been incredible at first base.
It’s hard to know what Jed Hoyer has planned for this offseason, but he should feel comfortable having Wisdom and Schwindel at the corners heading into 2022. They aren’t “Bryzzo,” but both players have been terrific so far this season.
Good Chance For Baez to Return
Javier Baez was the one player that it felt like was always destined to sign a long-term extension with the Cubs, but that just never materialized. Baez has really struggled since nearly winning the MVP a few seasons ago, but he provided so much to the Cubs organization.
The Cubs did Baez right by sending him to New York to play with his buddy, Francisco Lindor, but things have not worked out well. Fans in New York have not taken to Baez like fans in Chicago and it might lead to him being a free agent at the end of this season.
Baez is a player that feeds off of the fans, and he is beloved in Chicago. It’s not a guarantee, but don’t be surprised to see Baez back in Chicago to begin the 2022 season.
Division Still Up For Grabs
The Milwaukee Brewers have ran away with the NL Central Division crown this season, and the Cubs played a major role in that taking place. Milwaukee dominated Chicago all season long, but the rest of the division has struggled to keep up as well.
Even if the Cubs enter the 2022 season without any true big stars, the Cubs are still going to have a chance to win the division title. Milwaukee and St. Louis should be the two best teams in the NL Central next season, but it’s not like they are the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It doesn’t take a complete overhaul to turn things around in this division, and that had to play a role in the decision to trade away the big stars.