Before the 2015 season, the Chicago Cubs landed left-hander Jon Lester and picked up backup catcher David Ross. In December, they signed right-hander John Lackey to a two-year contract. Then, on Friday, the Cubs brought in outfielder Shane Victorino on a minor league deal.
Wait a minute. Is Cubs president Theo Epstein trying to get the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox back together?
Well, it’s really a yes and a no. It’s not entirely uncommon to see a team trying to poach players from one of the latest World Series winners, especially from a team such as the 2013 Red Sox. Just like the Kansas City Royals, the Red Sox didn’t necessarily need a roster full of stars to win — it had a lot to do with the way those players worked together. And speaking of the Royals, the Cubs also took in veteran utility man Ben Zobrist, who performed well for Kansas City down the stretch last season.
The Cubs just want the veteran guys who have shown they can help a team win when it counts.
But, while we don’t know what’s going through Epstein’s head, his familiarity with the Red Sox from being their general manager for nine seasons beginning in 2003 probably plays a role here. He brought Lackey to Boston as a free agent in 2010 and worked with Lester for his entire tenure there. And as someone who wasn’t shy about bringing in guys for their clubhouse presence rather than their talent, it makes sense that Epstein would like how Boston used Ross and Victorino, too.
At the end of the day, the Cubs are hungry for some hardware. It has been 108 years since the last time the team won a World Series, and they came close in 2015, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series before falling to the New York Mets in the NL Championship Series. And they don’t want it to happen again.
The Cubs don’t need to copy the Red Sox. They have a great young core and a Cy Young Award-winning starter in Jake Arrieta. But when you want that team to take you all the way to the top, it certainly doesn’t hurt to bring in a few guys who know a thing or two about being there.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports Images