Theo Epstein On Building Under the Current CBA

Theo Epstein was interviewed on WEEI Thursday night (partial transcript). He shared thoughts on a variety of Cub-related topics alongside musings about the Red Sox. There was nothing really groundbreaking in his comments, but they were infused with an undercurrent of pessimism similar to that which you’ve been picking up around these parts since the current CBA was ratified in late 2011.

We're two years into a building project that's probably going to take a longer time than that…


No More Loopholes

In Boston, we decided that it was going to be fundamental to our approach, that in order to win a World Series, we needed to develop homegrown players, in order to develop homegrown players, we wanted to shift as many of our resources as we could to the draft. So we let free agents walk…

And now…. you can’t really develop a strategy around draft picks. Sure, you might have someone that in a given year you can make a qualifying offer to, in the case of the Red Sox and Yankees maybe a couple, multiple players you can make qualifying offers to and get picks that way, but you only get one pick. You don’t get two anymore. The scope of players who receive compensation is much more limited and most mid-market teams and below will very rarely, if ever have compensatory picks for leaving free agents now.

Mid-market teams like the in-TV-limbo Cubs? That would help to explain why the team hasn’t pursued mid-level free agents on short-term, high-dollar deals in pursuit of future compensatory picks. The front office doesn’t think it makes financial sense.

On the dearth of prime-age talent:

There are lots of teams demanding talented, prime-age players, and supply is really a trickle…. It’s pretty rare that you find a player — maybe one player a year like that through the posting system, maybe one through Cuban free agency… and that’s about it. So, you’re going to see these prices that cause people to shake heads.

Success in The Modern Draft

…And you can’t overpay players in later rounds anymore unless you really go for a bargain in your first-round pick. That’s just really changed the game. You can still quote-unquote dominate the draft, make an impact in the draft, the way we used to try to, but it’s on a much smaller scale… and you have to make due…

You cannot miss in the draft… 

There will be two kinds of organizations, the kind that can consistently produce young players out of the draft and the amateur and international markets, and kind that can't… 

There’s tons more in the audio on Masahiro Tanaka, core players, evaluating health, getting bargains on extensions, improvements in the minor league system, trying to trade for Junichi Tazawa, etc… so do give it a listen.


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