Theo Epstein on Cubs' offseason: 'Embracing some change, even significant change, is warranted'

"We have to be honest about our performance," Epstein says.
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- After the Cubs suffered another disappointing ending to a season when they were swept by the Marlins in the wild-card round last week, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein on Monday turned his attention to the future.

“Simply hoping for a better outcome doesn't seem like a thoughtful approach,” Epstein said. “Embracing some change, even significant change, is warranted.”

In a Zoom media session that lasted for more than an hour Monday, Epstein hinted both at an exit for himself when his contract ends after the 2021 season and also roster turnover this offseason. To the latter point, Epstein made clear that the Cubs’ offensive struggles – which culminated in scoring just one total run in two games against the Marlins – have left them in a position in which they need to face reality.

Third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Javier Baez and outfielder Kyle Schwarber all struggled to varying degrees in 2020 and have one season left on their contracts. The Cubs also hold a $16.5-million team option on first baseman Anthony Rizzo for 2021, after which he would be set to hit free agency.

Epstein and the Cubs front office may have no choice but to look for value in in the form of a trade of one or more of the players who are a year away from free agency.

"The situation is still that there are no untouchables for us," Epstein said. “Clearly, some changes are warranted and necessary. We have not performed up to our expectations. This is especially true at the most important times of the year.”

Epstein and the Cubs have made long-term extension proposals to the representation for Bryant and Baez over the years, but nothing came to fruition. Schwarber’s camp will listen to any extension offers, he has said. Epstein and the Cubs informed Rizzo’s camp last offseason that they weren’t interested in a contract extension at the time after Rizzo’s side expressed serious interest.

Of them all, Baez has seemed the closest to signing a long-term extension in Chicago. But after another disappointing finish for the Cubs, the winds of change are blowing and it’s unclear what this offseason holds.

"On one hand, we have to be honest about our performance,” Epstein said. “We have not gotten to the point with the offensive production we expected to get to. A number of our players who are really talented and have done some remarkable things in this game with MVP-type seasons and All-Star performances have not had the years expected. We have to own that. We have guys 27, 28 years old who should be our strength. That hasn't happened. So we must be honest about that. That said, we have a lot to look forward to as an organization and a lot of chips to bring with us this offseason. That is true in building a strong and improved team in 2021 and in some instances being transactional.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.