Cubs

Theo Epstein believes Cubs are selling themselves now

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Theo Epstein believes Cubs are selling themselves now

Jason Heyward didn't choose to come to the Cubs based on a pitch by Theo Epstein's front office.

In an industry where money is the bottom line, Heyward left millions on the table to make Chicago his home and become a big piece of "The Plan."

The upstart Cubs look like a contender for years to come with a young core in place riding on the heels of a 97-win regular season and a visit to the National League Championship Series.

[RELATED - Why Jason Heyward chose Cubs over Cardinals]

And Heyward got to see it firsthand, watching the Cubs clinch the NLDS at a raucous Wrigley Field while sitting in the other dugout as a member the St. Louis Cardinals.

"As far as recruiting goes, they didn't have to do too much," Heyward said. "They let the product on the field speak for itself."

These days, the Cubs are selling themselves.

"That was probably the best recruiting we could have done was having Jason there for the NLDS with Wrigley just going absolutely bananas and our young players putting on a pretty good show and our pitchers stepping up," Epstein said after the Cubs introduced Heyward in a press conference Tuesday. "It was just a wonderful baseball experience.

"As much as we all enjoyed it and our fans enjoyed it, I think the players who were right in the middle of it recognized that it was something special. It really helped.

"We didn't have to heavily recruit Jason Heyward because he's very self-aware. He knows what's important to him and what he was looking for in an environment and he really sort of targeted us as a place of interest."

With the young core already having success at the big-league level, one of the game's top managers in Joe Maddon and a Wrigley Field renovation project that will include a new home clubhouse for the 2016 season, the Cubs sat in an entirely different position in free agency this offseason.

Heyward didn't have to listen to Epstein's front office make a sales pitch about why he should put his faith in the Cubs and sign with a last-place team the way Epstein and Co. sat down with Jon Lester last winter.

[RELATED - Joe Maddon feels like Cubs won baseball lottery again with Jason Heyward]

And this year, the promotional video the Cubs showed free agents had quite a bit more substance with the playoff run leading the way.

"We updated the video again this year," Epstein said with a smile. "We had a lot better material to put in the video this year to explain what we were trying to accomplish as an organization and what we see our future and how we treat players and how we treat families.

"[Heyward] got a copy of it and watched it and I think that sort of laid the foundation for the recruitment. But in the end, I think it was a very intelligent young man making a great life decision. He knew what he wanted and there was mutual interest."

It's quite a progression from the offseason the Cubs had just a few years ago, when Anibal Sanchez used the offer from Epstein's front office to drive his price up and ultimately re-signed with the Detroit Tigers for an $80 million deal prior to the 2013 season.

Now, the Cubs are getting players to put pen to paper and hop on board for less money than they had elsewhere.

The Cardinals and Washington Nationals reportedly offered Heyward a deal in the neighborhood of $200 million total and he opted for the Cubs' $184 million instead.

Ben Zobrist signed with the Cubs for $56 million over four years even though the San Francisco Giants and Nationals offered $60 million over the same span.

Epstein said it was the same thing for John Lackey and even confirmed that Trevor Cahill - who finished the 2015 season with the Cubs and re-signed for one year and $4.25 million - had more money on the table with another team.

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"It's up to each player," Epstein said. "I think players definitely notice how much fun our guys were having this year. It's a credit to our fans for creating a wonderful atmosphere, to Joe Maddon and his coaching staff for setting the right tone for the players and letting them be themselves and then our guys.

"It doesn't feel like settling when you talk about the players that we have and how much they support each other and how much fun they have playing the game. It's obvious from across the field.

"We've had four acquisitions take less ... Lackey, Zobrist and Heyward all really demonstrated their desire to be here. Cahill has experienced firsthand how much fun it is to be here.

"That's really sort of an honor and a credit to the organization that [chairman Tom Ricketts] has built."

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.