There was no doubt the Cubs were going to be sellers at the trade deadline, but they didn’t wait until the deadline to make a seismic move, trading franchise cornerstone Anthony Rizzo to the New York Yankees for a pair of prospects.
The trade officially closes the chapter on the golden era of Cubs baseball as moving the face of the franchise signals the dawn of a new day at the corner of Clark and Addison.
When the former president Theo Epstein and current president Jed Hoyer were building their championship core, one name was the foundation of the roster they envisioned for years to come.
After acquiring the young first baseman from the Padres in 2012 to be the cornerstone of what they were building, they continued to add, turning what was an organization devoid of talent into one of the most coveted cores in the sport. The curly-haired kid with potential became a three-time All-Star, four-time Glove Award winner, Silver Slugger award winner and the vocal leader of some of the best team’s the franchise has ever had.
Rizzo along with third baseman Kris Bryant, who the team drafted to be the other pillar of their core, quickly turned one of baseball’s worst teams into one of its best.
Together they were the anchors of a lineup that not only carried the team to sustained success, but the ultimate goal of capturing the franchise’s first World Series title in 108 years.
Fast forward to Thursday and things are drastically different and that feeling of inevitability has been around for some time. As Hoyer said following the team’s 11-game losing streak and shift into sellers weeks ago, “Life comes at you fast” and if there was a move that echoed those sentiments, it was this one.
The possibility of either of the Cubs’ two superstars being traded would have been considered laughable years ago, but times have changed and what was once unfathomable has now become a reality.
“Change is inevitable in our game at some point,” manager David Ross said. “There’s a lot of pride these guys should have and respect for one another. I know this fanbase has appreciated what they’ve done here. So I think that’s something that should be recognized.”
Rizzo didn’t play in what turned out to be his final game wearing the blue pinstripes. Unfortunately for him and the fans, there was no warm embrace, no standing ovation. His time in Chicago, like the team’s window, just ended.
The mass exodus from the North Side isn’t over yet as Bryant could also be on his way out the door.
While the former NL MVP talks has been up front about how he’s gotten better with dealing with the dark cloud of rumors and questions on his future. This week, he was honest about what may lie ahead for him in what has felt like his final days in Chicago.
“Some of the stuff is just exhausting. It really is,” Bryant said on Monday. “I’m just trying to do my best to keep my focus where it needs to be and help whoever I can along the way here and just take everything in stride. And whatever happens, it’s out of my control.”
But what will end up being the lasting moment from Thursday was nothing that happened on the field, but off of it. Following the final out of the Cubs’ 7-4 loss, Bryant sat in the dugout alone and was clearly emotional in what was likely also his final game in a Cubs uniform.
Those are likely being felt by not only by Cubs fans, even players and people in the organization as they realize that a major chapter in the franchise’s history, for now, has come to an end.
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