One of Theo Epstein's biggest moves that helped orchestrate the Cubs' rise from mediocrity to perennial contenders was acquiring Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop from the Orioles at the 2013 trade deadline.
But looking back on that trade seven years later, Epstein made it clear that general manager Jed Hoyer deserves a ton of credit for acquiring the club's future ace and setup man.
At Tuesday's press conference announcing his resignation as Cubs team president, Epstein highlighted that trade as one of many that stands out to him where Hoyer, his successor, was the driving force.
The Cubs and Orioles were discussing a deal to send starter Scott Feldman to Baltimore in a package featuring Arrieta. According to Epstein, Hoyer was adamant the Cubs could get more back for Feldman.
"Jed kept on pounding the table that we could get a throw-in in that [deal]," Epstein said. "It had to be this guy named Pedro Strop, even though he had like an 11 ERA the year before with the Orioles and was seemingly lost at the time as a pitcher. Jed kept pounding the table saying, ‘Not only can we can we get more, but he's the right guy.’"
The Cubs pulled the move off, getting both Arrieta and Strop in exchange for Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger. The deal turned out to be incredibly one-sided, as Arrieta transformed into an ace and won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award, posting a 2.73 ERA in five seasons.
Strop held a 7.25 ERA in 2013 with the Orioles but became one of the Cubs' best relievers in franchise history and a key clubhouse figure. In seven seasons, he sported a 2.90 ERA and ranks sixth in Cubs history in appearances (411) and first in holds (120).
"That’s one I always think back on because there's no doubt if it weren't for Jed being insistent on that and driving that," Epstein said, "we would not have gotten Stropy in the deal, let alone maybe complete the deal, and then without Jake Arrieta, all of the history here is different."