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Cubs’ president Theo Epstein sees opportunity with the additional wild card

Mar 3, 2012, 12:25 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein speaks at a news conference at Wrigley Field in Chicago Reuters

MLB made expanded playoffs official yesterday, a decision which will undoubtedly have a major impact on how general managers will approach things leading up to the trade deadline this year. We are likely to have more buyers than ever before while players on the handful of sellers could come at a premium cost.

New Cubs’ team president Theo Epstein talked about the new dynamic with Patrick Mooney of yesterday:

“We still set out with the same goal of winning the division, but clearly it makes the bar of qualifying for postseason play lower and more attainable for teams that are kind of in that building phase. It’s a good thing.”

The Cubs plan to discuss a contract extension with Matt Garza during spring training, but he could be a major trade chip if the two sides fail to make progress. The 28-year-old is under team control through the 2013 season. However, Epstein is hopeful that the Cubs could be position to be buyers at the deadline.

“Hopefully, we’re in a position at the trade deadline where we’re looking to add that final piece to get us in a better position for postseason play,” Epstein said. “If things don’t go our way, and we’re not, then the landscape is always defined by how many teams are looking to add and how many teams are willing to move a piece.

“Does an additional playoff team change that? Sure, sure it does. It changes that dynamic. But I’m not going to go into it expecting the club to be sellers. I think we’re trying to play our best possible baseball we can to put ourselves in a position to be in contention at the deadline. But if you’re selling at the deadline, by definition it’s been a failed year.”

Head over to for more of Mooney’s exclusive interview with Epstein.

  1. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - Mar 3, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    At what placement in the standings will participation trophies be awarded?

    • paperlions - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      Every team already gets those….they are called profits.

  2. jwbiii - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Because the Cubs were a mere 18 games out of fifth place (Braves) as opposed to an insurmountable 19 games out of fourth (Cardinals). Step away from the Kool-Aid.

  3. paperlions - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Let me ask: if your team gets a wildcard, and loses that game, will you feel like they made the playoffs? I certainly won’t.

    • jwbiii - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      I wouldn’t view the one game playoff as any different than this game.

      • paperlions - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:48 PM

        Exactly. It is more like the right to play your way into the playoffs, which are composed of actual series and not a playoff birth in its own right.

  4. randygnyc - Mar 3, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    It’s not the play-offs, by definition. They’re calling it a play-in, although they’re going to sell it like the former. With that said, it still has nothing to do with the Cubs.

  5. ponsonbybritt - Mar 4, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    The Houston Astros see an opportunity, too.

  6. ray1950 - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Theo hopes to be a buyer at the trading deadline. Of course he does! Given blank checks by the Red Sox, he spent like crazy and left Boston with a few terrible contracts to absorb. I, for one, am glad he’s gone.

    Theo’s so-called ability to build a farm system is going to be tested. The new Basic Agreement has a tax system in place that severely penalizes teams that go over a limit for spending in the first 10 rounds and more penalties on bonuses over $100,000 from the 11th round on. So even though we all know Theo loves to spend, he’s going to be in a bind.

    As for the new playoff (play-in) plan, I don’t like it. A third of the teams will now make the playoffs. It’s beginning to resemble the NHL.

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