Epstein On Cubs' Offseason: 'Don't Think We're Done'

The Cubs are working vigorously to add to their bullpen, Epstein says.

January 18, 2019 - 5:56 pm

(670 The Score) As the Cubs' offseason of inactivity continues with no movement, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein envisions more additions coming, though not of the high-profile variety.

"I don't think we're done," Epstein said as Cubs Convention opened Friday evening. "We're working hard to finish off the team. I don't think the team is complete yet if you look at it. I think our position group is pretty darn close to done. We can certainly break camp with what we have right now and feel good about the depth and overall talent and the way the pieces fit together. And yes, certain players need to grow from last season and make adjustments. But we think they have the talent and makeup to do so.

"We feel really good about the starting rotation, think it's going to be a strength of the team. The possibility of adding some depth down the line to add in case you suffer two or three injuries, making sure you have the right kind of guys and support the staff from Iowa, that remains a possibility. 

"But I think the real focus for us in the bullpen. We have a lot of talent there, but I don't think right now the bullpen is complete. I know we're working extremely hard to try to add to it, whether it's through trade or the right free-agent signing or the right small acquisition that might pay a huge dividend. We don't want to have the year we're looking for from our position player group and our rotation and have our bullpen let us down. That's something you have to be concerned about."

Kris Bryant miffed by limited markets for star free agents Bryce Harper, Manny Machado

The only notable move the Cubs have made this offseason is signing utility infielder Daniel Descalso to a two-year, $5-million deal. The signing of right-hander Kendall Graveman, who's rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, is the only other free-agent addition to their 40-man roster.

Epstein explained the lack of movement isn't reflective of what's going on behind the scenes.

"I understand the way things sometimes look from the outside in," Epstein said. "And especially in the winter. We can't go out and win games in the winter. We can't go out and play hard in the winter. All we can do for our fans in the winter in terms of being public facing is adding players. And we haven't added as many players as we normally have. But behind the scenes, there's a lot we do. I promise you and I promise our fans, this is as hard as I've ever worked in an offseason. The results in terms of adding players aren't there, but we think we've done a lot of good behind the scenes to learn some lessons from last year."

Nearby Epstein, third baseman Kris Bryant stated star free agent Bryce Harper, his good friend, wouldn't be signing with the Cubs. It echoed what the organization has been suggesting all winter but was nonetheless as direct of an answer as any Cubs member has given regarding the Harper sweepstakes. 

On that note, Epstein wouldn't speak directly to Harper, though he spoke generally.

"When asked about adding a monumental contract to our books this offseason, I said and it continues to be extremely unlikely given the totality of the circumstances," Epstein said.

Epstein stressed that he understands why some fans would be impatient as they see how the Cubs' offseason plays out.

"I completely get it from a fan's standpoint," Epstein said. "I know there are a lot of questions out there. I actually appreciate that, just to have fans who are as passionate about baseball and about winning and about the Cubs as we are. We can't take that for granted. Even if the tone isn't what you always want it here sometimes, it's coming from the right place and it also reflects the fact that standards have been raised around here quite a bit.

"I'm not blind to that. I get it. We've had meetings the past few days internally talking about the guys we do have and the incredible talent that does exist in this organization."