As the Chicago Cubs push for their second World Series title in three years, team president Theo Epstein isn't prepared to part ways with significant prospect capital for short-term help.
"As a rule, we will not be paying premiums for rentals. We just won't," Epstein said during an appearance on the Bernstein & McKnight Show.
"It's hard to build an organization that way. Let's be honest: We've poured a lot of resources into this team and this group, a lot of crazy dollars and a lot of trade resources. We've made a number of trades over the last few years. If we play ourselves into a position where we can benefit from some improvement and we're a legitimate championship contender, absolutely we will be pushing the envelope to try to get better. But that will probably not include paying a significant premium of future assets for a rental, because we have to build this organization and keep our focus on this group and this year's team and the immediate future in the next couple years but also keep an eye on what's going to happen after 2021."
Epstein's stance, though surprising, does come with rationale. He discussed the Aroldis Chapman trade of 2016, which Epstein referred to as a "special circumstance" that saw the team give up prized prospect and current New York Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres in exchange for the hard-throwing reliever. The move paid dividends and helped the Cubs win the World Series, though Chapman returned to New York in the offseason.
The following year, Epstein and Co. acquired Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox, and, while he wasn't a rental, the haul to acquire him cost the team a pretty penny in Eloy Jimenez, who is currently ranked as the White Sox's No. 1 prospect, hitting .353/.397/.559 in Double-A.
"We can't be sacrificing all of our future assets in drafting guys exclusively to trade them. We can't do that. We have to build a farm system," Epstein added. "It's been used quite a bit to support this group, and we need to start growing the farm back as well."
The Cubs (21-15) are still in a good position to make a trade if need be, though it might have to come at the expense of an already established player, such as Kyle Schwarber or Addison Russell. Epstein and the Cubs are also fully expected to be buyers this coming winter, when Bryce Harper, Brian Dozier, and Machado, among others, hit the open market.
The group will look to win its sixth straight game on Sunday against the White Sox.