When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over baseball operations for the Cubs following the 2011 season, they started a rebuild effort that combined high draft picks with savvy trades in an effort to end the longest title drought in US professional sports. They key to that rebuild, four prospects ranked in the Top 50 by nearly every publication prior to the 2014 season, became known as the Core Four. Javier Baez, the 9th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Albert Almora, the 6th selection in 2012, Jorge Soler, a Cuban defector who signed a 9 year, $30 million contract in June of 2012, and Kris Bryant, the second overall pick in the 2013 draft were expected to lead the Cubs to the promised land and, in 2016, they did, each contributing to the team’s first World Series title in 108 years.
Bryant and Baez were the only two left heading into the 2021 season. Both were traded today.
Kris Bryant is heading to the Giants, with OF Alexander Canario and RHP Caleb Killian coming back to the Cubs. Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2016 NL MVP, has seemingly been on the trading block for years now, ever since the Cubs won his service time grievance. Ironically, he was the last one out the door, following yesterday’s trade of Anthony Rizzo and this afternoon’s moves with Craig Kimbrel and Javier Baez.
Canario, a top 15 prospect in the Giants’ system, showed flashes as a teenager prior to the pandemic, but has seen his strikeout rate increase as he’s gone up to higher levels of competition. Killian, likely rated in the top 40 of the Giants system, was an 8th round pick in 2019 and has seem some success this year coming back from the pandemic.
After winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs, with their young talent, looked to be on the verge of a dynasty. 5 years later, that dynasty is over without ever really starting, having dropped their last 4 consecutive post-season games dating back to the 2017 NLCS. Now, 10 years after the start of the last rebuild, Jed Hoyer has to start again.
Bryant’s and Baez’s numbers in a Cubs uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:
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