Amid Cubs' Uncertainty, David Ross Ready To Win

"We got a chance to put another banner out there in 2020," Ross says.

Chris Emma
January 16, 2020 - 2:50 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The enduring image of David Ross' playing career was hitting a home run in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and helping the Cubs win their elusive championship.

Those memories will always be vivid for Ross. What's ahead isn't so clear.

Ross was hired by the Cubs in October as a first-time manager and tasked with leading the team amid organizational uncertainty. Even after the Cubs parted ways with Joe Maddon and brought in Ross, it's possible more changes could be coming, with core players only locked in through 2021 and stars like third baseman Kris Bryant landing in trade speculation.

While it seems the Cubs' championship window is closing, Ross isn't looking at it that way.

"There's a lot of talent," Ross said Thursday. "There's no ceiling for this team. I really think this team can win the World Series. That's the way I'm looking at things.

"I kind of enjoy looking at that roster every day and it looking the same, because I know there’s a chance to win the World Series right there."

The Cubs have made no additions of consequence this winter to a team that won only 84 games and missed the playoffs in 2019. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein and his front office are working amid financial restraints this offseason, which has led the team to explore trade possibilities of key players to cut payroll and restock the farm system.

The Cubs have appeared more focused on what happens a few years down the line than in 2020. Bryant, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Javier Baez and outfielder Kyle Schwarber are all currently set to become free agents after 2021.

After the Cubs' championship in 2016, it seemed they were poised to win for many years to come and that their stars would remain for the long term.

Of course, it's never that simple.

"This is a business," Rizzo said. "This is as cutthroat as ever now. We're talking about trading the MVP of the league a couple years ago who's done a lot for this franchise. So, it's just a whole different ballgame."

When the Twins signed Josh Donaldson to a four-year deal earlier this week, it brought some clarity to the trade market for third basemen, which will offer Epstein and the Cubs a chance to further gauge interest in Bryant. Ross stated Thursday he believes Bryant will be part of his roster for spring training and Opening Day, but if the Cubs struggle ahead of the trade deadline in late July, Bryant could again be part of discussions for a deal.

Despite the Cubs' murky future, Ross is only focused on how he can help the team find its best form, which he believes is better than 84 wins.

"It's just a little bit more of getting back to what we found important and some of these guys where their minds were when I got to play with them," Ross said. "Maybe the lack of attention to detail at times. And getting back to some of those winning ways that I've seen in my career as a player and being on winning teams. 

"Reset the mind, refocus on our work, just a little bit of attention to details. That's all I feel can take us to the next level."

On Tuesday night, Ross and Rizzo met for dinner. The occasion could be viewed through two prisms. It was two friends and former teammates sharing stories of their time together but also a rookie manager and established team leader looking ahead to a new season.

Rizzo may not be a Cub for the remainder of his career as he once hoped, and the same goes for players like Bryant, Baez and Schwarber. But what the Cubs have now is a manager hoping he can reveal the best of what he's working with.

Ross stands confident the Cubs still have enough to win.

"We got a chance to put another banner out there in 2020," he said. "I'm excited about that."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.